Sensational Australian Tom Slingsby sailed to his fourth world Laser crown on Sunday (18 December), cruising home comfortably to win the Medal race for a 19-point victory at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships.
In the final race of the regatta, Slingsby somersaulted from his boat into the water and lifted the host nation to a table-topping three world titles, leaving a handful of other sailors to battle it out for the other two podium spots.
For Slingsby, a winner of six races off Fremantle, it was a fifth visit to the Laser dais having won the crown in 2007, 2008 and 2010 after collecting silver in 2006.
Now just the Olympic crown beckons before he heads off to America’s Cup sailing with BMW Oracle.
On his fourth world title, Slingsby said: 'This is definitely one of the best. Sailing, you’re often off in the ocean and no one can see but to have it here and a grandstand all cheering your name chanting ‘Tom’, I haven’t had that happen before so it’s a pretty amazing feeling. You feel like a real sports star.
'I’m really happy with the way I’m going. To me, I feel like I’m improving all the time. I’m a lot better sailor than I was four years ago and I think it’s going to show this time around.'
On how he won the race: 'The start didn’t really go according to plan, I was just a bit too cautious to get up on the line and I got caught between a guy who goes low and a guy who goes high, and just got squeezed out. As soon as I got clear I felt the shift pattern and got in synch. From there on I sailed well.
'I showboated a bit, I’m not too happy about that. I was lucky I didn’t capsize.'
With Australia finishing the top nation in Perth on the number of gold medals won, Slingsby said:
'We are such a good team, we are a small team but we bat up the order, we bat well, pull really far above our weight ... we did that here, we did it in front of our home country and home fans.'
Silver medallist Nick Thompson (GBR) had nothing but praise for Slingsby.
'Tom has sailed a fantastic event, from start to finish, with six firsts and some very good results in all the other races. He thoroughly deserved to win the event and I am very pleased for him as well because he is a very good friend of mine. I couldn’t think of anyone else I would rather lose to.'
On conditions in the Medal race: 'It was a nice breeze but would have preferred more. I am a little disappointed that we didn’t get that (Fremantle) Doctor but it was still a fantastic event.'
'The points were so close, it was almost the case of from seven all the way up to two were pretty much even, so I wasn’t really thinking about the third position that I had at the time. It was just about getting on with the race out there and seeing what I could do.'
Thompson was rapt with his silver medal.
'I’m over the moon. It would have been almost impossible to beat Tom and that was the best result that I could have come away with, so I’m absolutely ecstatic.'
On being boxed in at the start, Thompson said: 'My tactic really was to just get away, the waves were almost allowing you to surf upwind so I was just trying to get away from the group and get my groove going and go from there and it worked out great.'
New Zealander Andrew Murdoch was elated with the bronze medal, his third world Laser bronze to go with a silver from 2007, saying he would now celebrate by starting his summer holidays.
'It was so close, it was like starting all over again,' he said. 'I just had to keep a boat between me and the German (Groteluschen),' he said.
Groteluschen was unhappy not taking home an expected medal after starting the day second on overall points.
'I was very disappointed because I had a big crash with the Austrian guy (Andreas Geritzer), and then I fell back and it was hard to come back.'
On the collision, he said: 'Well he (Geritzer) said afterwards, that he had a knot in the main sheet, so he couldn’t bear away.
'It was quite hard for me to come back and after the second round I was so exhausted.'
Perth 2011 website