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International flavour to Australian Laser Championships in Melbourne

by Laser 2020 Media 30 Dec 2019 23:22 PST 1-8 January 2020
Laser Australian Championships 2019 © Beau Outteridge

As another Olympic year dawns, sailors from 17 different nations will do battle in the Australian Laser Championships at Sandringham Yacht Club, beginning on New Year's Day.

Olympic hopefuls from northern hemisphere countries have been training in Melbourne since early December, taking advantage of warmer weather and learning the race course which will be used for the World Championships in February.

Among the countries represented are Great Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Estonia, the Netherlands, Croatia, Turkey, USA, Canada, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and New Zealand.

Headlining the Women's Laser Radial Championships are 2016 Olympic gold medallist and 2017 World Sailor of the Year, Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands, along with 2017 World Champion Alison Young (GBR) and Annalise Murphy (IRE), the silver medallist from Rio.

These and other internationals will face stiff competition from a strong Australian contingent, led by two rising stars. Queenslander Mara Stransky is just 20-years-old but has achieved several top 10 finishes against the best of the world, while 19-year-old Zoe Thomson from WA qualified Australia for the 2020 Olympics at the test event in Japan earlier this year.

Stransky and Thomson will be challenged by other aspiring Olympians in the Australian camp, including Paige Caldecoat from NSW and WA sisters Elyse and Jaci Ainsworth.

In the absence of Rio Olympic champion Tom Burton, who was controversially overlooked when the first sailors to compete at Tokyo 2020 were announced, his replacement Matt Wearn (WA) will go head-to-head with New Zealander Sam Meech. They are ranked second and third in the world respectively.

Tom Burton recently placed third in the World Moth Championships in Perth, behind 2012 Olympic Laser champion Tom Slingsby. Laser fans will not have long to wait for the grudge match between Burton and Wearn, as the pair are both entered for the Oceania Laser Championships to be held during Sail Melbourne later in January.

As well as the Radial and Standard Laser rigs, the Australian Championships include the youth 4.7 rig, giving young Australian sailors a chance to mix with their heroes in the boat park and watch the best in the world in action on the water.

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