Age no barrier at Laser Masters World Championships

Published on December 2nd, 2013

Mussannah Sports City, Oman (December 2, 2013) – Robert Scheidt proved last week that age is no barrier to success in Laser racing and this week at the Laser Masters World Championships in Oman, and Japan’s Haruyoshi Kumera is defying his 81 years to tread the same path.

There will be no Olympic gold at the end of this path for Haruyoshi, who hails from Osaka, but judging from the wide smile on his face as he tacked nimbly towards the finish line to cross in fourth place this afternoon, the sense of achievement – and pride – would equal Scheidts.

Haruyoshi is visiting Oman for the first time and has brought his wife along to share the experience. It is only every four or five years that he attends a Laser Masters – his last competition was in Halifax in Canada in 2009 but he has been racing Lasers since 1985 and taking part in the Laser Masters all that time.

His best result, he says proudly, was at Melbourne in 1999 when at the age of 67 – already competing in the Great Grand Master fleet – he finished second.

Watching him manoeuvre his boat smoothly around the course is probably reminiscent of 1999 – no sign of stiffness, no evidence that old bones are interfering with tactical decisions and no holding back in the aggression required to get onto the podium though 80 year-old aggression is perhaps more genteel.

His fitness regime comprises a programme of daily squat training and push ups, swimming and Nordic walking as well of course as his Laser racing though he only managed to get in his boat around five times this summer.

Back home, he sails out of the Ashiya Marine Centre, a community sailing centre at Ashiya City between Osaka and Kobo where there is a large fleet of Lasers. In total there are 600 Laser racers in Japan, six of whom are competing in Oman and his commitment to the class has seen him in charge of Japan’s Laser Class Association as President.

“The Laser class community is very friendly which is why I like it and the level of competition is high which is the reason why so many sailors come to the Laser Masters,” he said.

“I didn’t know much about Mussanah but I think it is a great venue with good accommodation and facilities though the race course does seem very large.”

After two days racing, the octogenarian was lying in 11th place overall in the Radial Great Grand Masters fleet, 20 points behind 76 year old leader Peter Seidenberg from America who won the last race after an exciting tacking duel with Australian Robert Lowndes on the final upwind leg to the finish.

All eight fleets had to stay patient as the sea breeze took its time to fill in but race management finally started them at 2pm and managed to fit in two races as wind nudged over 10 knots.

Kiwi Edward Tam remains top of the Radial Apprentices after fending off a challenge from Fabio Suyama Ramos of Brazil while Bruce Martinson from USA followed up a win in the Radial Grand Masters with a 19th which he will hope to discard to stay top.

Another Kiwi Scott Leith managed to hold off a strong advance from Swede Niklas Edler who took a first and a third in the Radial Apprentice division to go within three points of Leith while Brit Ian Jones continued his excellent form from Day 1 to put five points between him and second placed Joao Ramos from Brazil in the Radial Masters.

Greg Adams is proving difficult to beat in the light airs and now has an eight point lead in the biggest fleet of the regatta, the Standard Grand Masters and another Aussie Mark Bethwaite posted a first and second to lead the Standard Great Grand Masters leaderboard.

Things are looking too close to call in the 30 strong Standard Masters though Arnoud Hummel from the Nederlands has a two point advantage over Canada’s Al Clark with Ted Morgan from the USA two points behind him with everything to play for.

Racing extends daily December 1-7 with a rest day scheduled for December 4.

Complete results: http://omanlaserworlds2013.com/eng/championship.php?id=24
Event website: http://omanlaserworlds2013.com/eng/index.php

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