Monday, September 20, 2010

2010 Laser Masters Worlds - Bronze Medal (Laser Cube) Finish

on the way to the race course for the final day

The final day of the Laser Masters Worlds was filled with drama including broken gear, a capsize, and a penalty turn in a three-way battle for the silver and bronze medals in very physical and challenging conditions. The ebb tide produced very big, choppy waves that compounded the challenge in the 17-20 knot winds. The tide also created an adverse effect at the starts by pushing the fleet towards the starting line, dramatically increasing the risk being over early and possibly getting black flagged for the race. Scott Ferguson had a big enough lead that after finishing 3rd in the first race and didn't sail in the final race. So the day would turn into a three way fight for the last two podium spots.

My day started locked in a battle for the bronze with Christian Pedersen from Denmark. It was going to come down to who beat who in the two windy races. With conditions similar to the first day of the championships where Christian posted a 3-4 finish to my 7-9 placing, I knew he was going to be hard to beat. I also knew it would be physically taxing pushing my fitness to its extreme. I relished this opportunity to justify all the training in the gym over the past year.

I started the first race just above Tracy Usher from San Francisco who is big and fast in the big breeze and waves. Normally he would grind me into the dust in no time but I was going well enough to ride his quarter wave for quite some time. In essence he was "towing" me upwind faster then I would go being on my own. After about three minutes he hit a nasty set of waves and I actually rolled him. This was a huge bonus because he was starting to spit me off the tow. Christian sailing fast came out of the right to round the mark just a head of me.

On the run I let it fly and quickly over took Christian and moved into 4th place approaching the leeward gate. As I pulled on my downhall to the maximum setting, it broke with a big bang! Laser sailors know the significant performance difference between a super tight downhaul, and maximum tight is only a few millimeters difference in pulling the tack of the sail up tight against the boom. My tack was now 4 inches above the boom and I've never seen a sail look so ugly. I limped upwind as best I could and overtook some boats on the final run to salvage an 8th. More importantly only one place behind Christian. The other thing that happened that race was Arnoud Hummel, who was second going into the day, capsized on the run and posted a big score. Now the final race would determine who would finish second.

with a broken downhaul the you can see the wrinkle cut through the sail numbers - very slow!

The final race I again got a quick start in the middle of the line and was able to sail free and clear the whole beat. Half way up the beat on port tack I ducked behind Christian letting him go left electing to minimize my tacks in the huge waves. It worked out he gained a couple of boat lengths and got two boats in between us, but I was still very close. Arnoud was a few boats behind both of us and the race was now on. We overtook Christian downwind and I move forward in the lead pack to rounded the gate in 3rd. Unfortunately it was right behind Tracy Usher, the heavy air speedster who proceeded to drop me like a cheap date. Arnoud soon passed as well, being faster upwind. Christian was threatening to pass until he fouled a starboard tack boat and ended up doing penalty turns. On the final run I closed up to round the final mark on Arnoud's transom and that is how we finished.

Arnoud Hummel finished 2nd overall, one point ahead of me in 3rd place. I finished one point ahead of Christian Pedersen.

a coveted Laser Cube

I will do a wrap-up blog soon about my overall impression of these Laser Masters Worlds.

final results worlds website


  1. Great Job, John, both sailing and reporting. Then Steve Cockerel called the last day a "walk in the Park". I will have to go back and read that again-- of course he was sailing a radial and has been sailing in England most of the time.

  2. That was pretty cool. You had a great comeback. I can't wait to read the next part!

    John, 10 year old Bryanna wrote the above. Your story made for excellent bed time reading. Thanks! You rock!

  3. John, I read the story to Emmett too. Inspiring!

  4. Congratulations. Excellent sailing and reporting. I look forward to your wrap up.