Nick Thompson Repeats as Laser World Champion
Published on May 18th, 2016
Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico (May 18, 2016) – Defending champion Nick Thompson of Great Britain stumbled out of the gate today at the Laser Standard Men’s World Championship but ultimately got the job done on the final day to secure the 2016 title.
After posting a 41st in the first race, Thompson’s 19 point margin over Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) shrank to six points. But in the second race and final test of the championship, Thompson’s 9th and Bernaz’s 15th secured the order. Rutger Van Schaardenburg (NED), who posted a 3-1 today, jumped up from 10th to take the bronze.
The wind on the final day was only a 15 degrees south of the typical direction but caused the biggest place changes seen during 14 race series. 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 the 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. Thompson became only the fifth person in 42 years to successfully defend a Laser World Championship title.
Racing was scheduled daily May 12-18 on the waters of Banderas Bay.
Source: Laser class