by Di Pearson
Laser Worlds 2008 - Waiting for the off
No Breeze and then thunderstorms have put the Laser Worlds start on standby. Light and shifty breezes peaking at 4 knots have forced race officials at the Laser World Championship to postpone racing on the very first day of racing.
All the Lasers are rigged and sailors waiting by their boats or sitting in the Terrigal Trojan Rugby Club waiting for the AP flag to drop, signaling the fleet can leave The Haven and head out for Races 1 and 2 of the Championship at this ISAF Grade 1 event which will make or break the Olympic fortunes of many.
Competitors do not seem too worried, all looked relaxed. “I don’t mind waiting,” said Simon Grotelüschen from Germany. “You get used to this at regattas; it is a normal part of sailing life. It doesn’t make us nervous,” he said.
The lone Singapore entry, Seng Leong Koh, spent the spare time acquainting a small group of sailors with Chinese culture and traditions.
“This is a big deal for me today. It is the start of Chinese New Year,” says Koh hoping the Chinese New Year may help him qualify Singapore for the Olympic Games in Beijing.
“It goes for three days. Married men must give money to single men. I am waiting for my coach (Australian Brett Beyer) to hand me a packet of red money. “Where is my money,” he questions Beyer, a top Laser sailor himself.
“He feels deprived because I won’t hand over money, which must be wrapped in red paper,” respond Beyer, laughing.
“He is teaching the other sailors here all about Chinese tradition – it’s taking all their minds off the start delay,” adds Beyer.
Andrew Lewis from Trinidad is also hoping to qualify for the Olympic Games and like Koh, is the lone competitor from his country.
Laser Worlds day 1 - checking the gear
“I have to qualify here,” says the 18 year-old. “I think I can do it.” A big call for the former Laser Radial sailor who has only sailed in the Laser Standard for the last four months. A bigger call considering he is 10 kilos under the average Laser sailor’s weight.
“I have been training here at Terrigal for eight days and I did a lot of training in Sydney. I am better in light winds because I am light, but I am happy to sail in all conditions,” he says.
Lewis is up against 25 others for the last 10 Olympic qualifying places. Fernando Alegre, his coach, says: “I have coached Andrew since he sailed Optimists. He is a very good sailor. He knows who he has to beat at the World’s, and knows he just has to do his best against the others.”
“I cannot control what my competition does, so I just have to look out for myself,” says a confident Lewis, who is a four-time Caribbean Dinghy champion. “I am only 18, so there are many opportunities in front of me,” he adds.
Just after 12.30pm, the AP flag was lowered, and the signal sounded, telling sailors the race was on. All got to their boats quickly, keen to get out for Race 1 of this very important Championship event, the first World’s ever held at Terrigal, a picturesque holiday destination on the NSW Central Coast.
A short time later, a call from Sydney warned of 25 knot sou-easterly winds, which did hit the fleet shortly after, bringing all back to shore at 1.30pm to wait.
For all information on the Gosford Sailing Club hosted Laser World’s, including mark roundings, photos and more on the Laser World Championship go to: http:⁄⁄aus08.laserinternational.org/