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Three of top 10 ranked Laser sailors battle at Manly - Day 1

by Nick Page NZLTA 11 Jan 23:30 PST 12 January 2019
Sam Meech - NZL - Laser - Sailing World Cup Enoshima, August 2018 © Sailing Energy

Three of the worlds top 10 ranked Laser sailors joined 112 others for two great races to kick off the 2019 Laser Nationals at Manly Sailing Club in Auckland.

The first race was held in a light SE breeze, which faded and shifted during the race, to be replaced by a lovely 8 to 10 knot NE sea breeze for the second race of the afternoon.

Kiwi Olympic bronze medallist and world No 1 ranked Sam Meech took out the first race of the day, but had to settle for 2nd overall after the days second race, with compatriot and world No 8 Tom Saunders win in the second race of the day going with his second in race 1 to narrowly lead from Meech. Several of the other favourites including World No 2 Philipp Buhl suffered UFD's in race 1 so they will be looking to keep clean for the rest of the contest and get into the mix.

In the Radials three sailors stood out with consistent results in both races. Youth Harrison Baker had a really strong day, backing up a runaway win in race 1 with a 3rd in race 2 to lead overall. Womens U21 Olympic hopeful Annabelle Rennie Younger, with a win in race 2 coupled with her 6th in race 1, holds second overall by 1 point from 14 year old rising star Caleb Armit, who's pair of 4th put him well and truly in contention. All the others struggled for consistency but it's early days and the likes of Womens Olympic campaigner Olivia Christie, 2nd in race 1, and this seasons leading Youth to date Luke Cashmore are sure to push the current leaders hard in coming days.

The Standard Masters fleet suffered the brunt of the dying breeze in race 1 before the sea breeze filled in, leading to many sailors having at least one dodgy result. Apprentice Dave Ridley however mastered the conditions all day and had a blinder with 2 bullets to lead from AusKiwi visitor Matt Blakey (A). Leading Master is Cris Brodie in 3rd overall, leading GM Gavin Dagley in 5th while Gary Lock is the leading GGM in 9th. Defending champion Andrew Dellabarca had a tough start to the regatta with a 16th in the opening race so has some work to do to defend his title.

In the Radial Masters defending champ Ed Tam (M) carried on from last year with a pair of seconds to lead from Onerahi's Kevin Jenkins (GM), with a consistent Stew Taylor in third. Both race winners, Steve Harris (M) in race 1 and Richard Blakey (M) in race 2, struggled in the days other race to finish the day a bit further down the order. Leading GGM is Gill Waiting from Napier.

It was great to see a 4.7 fleet on the water for the first time in several years, featuring several graduates from the host club commodore Russell Coutts O'pen Bic initiative, but it is Napier sailor Jacob Goodall who leads after day 1 from Manly's Daniel Brodie while Aidan Gordon all the way up from Queenstown in 3rd.

Tomorrow looks promising but challenging for the race committee with a moderate but clocking breeze forecast.

Complete results are on the NZLA website nzlaser.org/content/2019-nz-laser-nationals-results

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