London 2012 – Laser champion Tom Slingsby tracks towards Gold
by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World team on 1 Aug 2012
Five times Laser World Champion, 27 year old Australian Tom Slingsby, unbeaten in Weymouth in recent times, has signalled clearly he intends to preserve that record in the 2012 Olympic regatta.
Tom Slingsby (AUS) Laser onEdition © http://www.onEdition.com
The Laser fleet sailed races three and four today in Portland Harbour.
Slingsby was second in race one behind Cypriot Pavlos Kontides.
Slingsby’s second race sixth place was a very impressive comeback after he rounded the top mark, buried in the mid 20’s.
The World Champion told the story of that race. ‘I had a pretty good start and half way up I thought I was around the top ten but I was trying to get a cross on a guy and couldn’t quite cross him and then I got forced back into the pack and when you are battling away in the pack people attack and you are getting caught on starboard. You are never sailing full speed. I got caught in the pack.
‘I was around 26th around the top. I was deep in the pack and you can’t really see much in there.
‘I stayed pretty conservative and just tried to use my speed and get every little shift. I did not want to take a big risk and it seemed to work.
‘It was a three lap race and a couple of boats each leg. Each time I did well each leg. I was going ok I am on a roll here. Let’s keep it going. Sometimes you can pull back ten boats in a leg and then the next one lose ten.
‘Everyone wants to get back but some people go about it different ways.
‘A lot of people will take a big risk to try to get back whereas that is not really my style.
‘I know I have got good boat speed. I know I can sail well and I have just got to get clear air and get going. I know if I can do that I can pullback a few boats each leg.
‘I didn't want to take any big risks because that can go wrong. I could have gone from 26 to 40.
‘There weren’t too many overtaking lanes so I had to really sit there and chip away.
‘The day of the Portland Harbour course is a danger day really. We are used to sailing offshore in the waves were you can get a bit of separation and get into a rhythm. The harbour can be very tricky. I am just happy that I got through the danger though with a good score.
‘If you told me a couple of days ago that I would be leading after two days with a four point gap I would be over the moon. I think I was about quadruple the points at this stage four years ago so I am really happy. I am sailing well. I have got four good scores.
‘This regatta so far has been a big contrast to Beijing. Perhaps because I am four years older and a bit smarter and wiser but the big thing is the venue for me. I was never comfortable in China. I could never get into sync with the shifts of weather or anything. Here in Weymouth I feel good.
‘But there is a lot of regatta to go. Pavlos is in great form. He had two great races today. When he turns it on he is really good. Sometimes he can sail pretty high risk but when he gets it right he really gets it right. He is very strong. He has top five at worlds and if he gets it right he is hard to stop.’
It’s hard to imagine that Slingsby will not prevail. Particularly as back in fleet, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Gold Medallist Paul Goodison is struggling with a back injury and may have to withdraw from the Olympic .
While it was the Goodison of old in race four today, his results so far of 10,23,16 and 2 put him in 12th place overall and one more bad race might mean the end of his defence.