Laser Masters Worlds day 4. With the ebb tide going against the 15 to 20 knot westerly wind, the wind and waves are up again, making for great downwind surfing in the Laser Masters on San Francisco Bay.
Thirty sailors 65 years and older, make up the Great Grand Masters Fleet, and they started their first race a little later today, in hopes of bigger breezes, which they certainly saw. Great Britain’s Keith Wilkins is in an enviable spot: In eight races, he’s had six firsts, a tenth, which is his dropped race, and a fifth in his last race today. He’s 21 points ahead of James Quinn (NZL) in second place. 'My goal,' he said, 'is to arrive at each regatta happy, relaxed, and confident.' To achieve his wins he practices meditation and yoga, which keeps him relaxed and focused. Wilkins, a sailing coach and owner of a holistic office in Shropshire, has been in the Laser since he was 29 and won the Masters Worlds a staggering 11 times.
While the surfing was great, the downside of bigger breeze and waves is the higher risk of a capsize, and there were more than a few today. Paul Heineken (StFYC), another Great Grand Master with loads of sailing under his belt, laughs, as he’s lately come be known as the father of Kite Board World Champ, John Heineken. He said while the conditions were fantastic, he capsized in his first race missing a potential third place finish, and then again in his second race. 'There were plenty of opportunities today,' Heineken said, 'but I didn’t keep the bottom under the top.'
In the Grand Master fleet, the racing started really tight today with American sailors Bill Symes and Bruce Martinson just one point apart. After the first race, they were tied and by the second race Symes edged out over Martinson. 'Bill (Symes) is truly fast upwind,' Martinson said, 'and he extended on the downwind, which is exactly what he’s supposed to do.' 'It’s a virtual tie between Rob (Lowndes, GBR), Bruce and I,' Bill Symes said, 'and it’s not over ‘till it’s over. It is nice,' he said, 'to have a day where everything just goes your way.' It certainly did for him, with two wins today among a tight fleet.
*Correction from the Day 3 report: Al Clark (CAN) was reported as changing to the radial due to the depth of the standard fleet, but in fact, he is sailing with two broken ribs he sustained in a sailing accident and felt he could better manage the radial in the forecasted San Francisco breeze and current. Clark had a great first race today with a second place finish, putting him back on top yet again.
In the Standard Masters, leader Arnoud Hummel is just three points ahead of Brett Beyer, so the next four races will be key for them and defending champ, Scott Ferguson who is 11 points behind first. Scott Leith (NZL) and Benjamin Richardson (USA) are at the tops of the leader boards in the Radial and Standard Apprentice fleets.
Racing continues through Saturday and results are posted here: http://www.sflaserworlds.com/page/Laser-Masters
Worlds. A special thanks to Svendsen’s Marine, Exclusive Onsite Retailer of Laser Parts for the 2011 Laser Masters Worlds.