Great Britain’s Nick Thompson won his second Laser World Championship and has now joined an elite group of sailors who can claim back-to-back titles in what many consider one of the world’s toughest sporting events.
The wind on the final day was only 15 degrees south of the typical direction but caused the biggest place changes seen during 14 race series in the waters of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. Big gains and losses affected both the championship leader and those further down the leader board. As Thompson said, “It was definitely very stressful!”
Most of the top sailors started near the pin, but the wind shifted right and never allowed them to tack and cross to the right side of the course. It was not clear what had happened until the fleet rounded the first mark and Giovanni Coccoluto ITA led his teammate Marco Gallo out of the chasing group.
Thompson was back in 25th position but surprisingly his nearest rivals, Jean-Baptiste Bernaz of France and Croatia’s Pavlos Kontides found themselves in 41st and 50th places respectively.
But Thompson almost let his victory slip away when on the next upwind leg he dropped to 40th place while Bernaz amazingly clawed his way up to the top of the fleet. Robert Scheidt also dropped from the top-10 down to 30th on the leg.
At the finish, Coccoluto held on to his position to lead Wannes van Laer of Belgium and Dutchman, Rutger van Schaardenburg, across the line. Bernaz held on for fifth place and with Thompson’s 41st place finish, it was all down to the last of the 14 races to decide the title.
“I had to do some quick calculations” said Thompson. “I worked out that I had to watch Jean-Baptiste and Matthew Wearn in the last race. That was impossible so I decided to sail my own race. I started near the committee boat and crossed off Matthew at the start and then had a close cross with Jean-Baptiste just before the first mark. At that point I felt back in control although there was still a long way to go. Jean-Baptiste was ahead of me until the second upwind when we split tacks and I was able to pass him and stay ahead.”
When Thompson pulled ahead of Bernaz on the second upwind leg, he had essentially sealed his victory as he successfully covered Bernaz to the finish.
Rutger van Schaardenburg won the final race, and combined with his third in the first race of the day promoted him from an overnight position of tenth to third overall, showing how close the racing was in the gold fleet.
Bernaz held on to his second place overall position and with the regatta win, Thompson became only the fifth person in 42 years to successfully defend a Laser World Championship title.
Final overall results after 14 races and 2 discards.
1. Nick Thompson GBR 61pts
2. Jean-Baptiste Bernaz FRA 73pts
3. Rutger van Schaardenburg NED 88pts
4. Matthew Wearn AUS 90pts
5. Marco Gallo ITA 93pts
6.Tom Burton AUS 101pts
7. Tonci Stipanovic CRO 118pts
8. Philipp Buhl GER 123pts
9. Jesper Stalheim SWE 123pts
10. Robert Scheidt BRA 127pts
For more information:
Event Website – http://www.laserworlds2016.org/index.php/competitors-2/laser-standard-men
Results – http://www.laserworlds2016.org/index.php/mstand-results
Photos – http://jldigitalmedia.zenfolio.com/f161465080
Video – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQj9rPN_fgFBw49XBZTLb4p56WPzOhx9m