2019 Laser Masters Florida Champs

Published on March 10th, 2019

Sixty-eight Laser Masters sailors aged between 35 and 81 came for the 2019 Laser Masters Florida Championship on March 8-10 in Palm Beach, Florida. Competitors for the 43rd edition of the Jack Swenson Memorial Trophy represented Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and USA.

Conditions for the 1st day were brisk with a constant 12-15kts from the East throwing up a lumpy swell. In the Laser full rig class, Ernesto Rodriguez from Miami Gardens scored 3 bullets to lead, with David Heibert finishing 2-3-4 to end the day in 2nd place. On the water, Apprentice Master Christine Neville from Newport led the Radial fleet with 3 1st place finishes; however, 81 year old Legend Great Grand Master Peter Seidenberg slept soundly with a 1 point lead over Christine after applying the Masters handicap

Day 1 results (3 races scored) with Masters Handicap:

Rodriguez – 9
Hiebert – 15
Shope – 18

Seidenberg – 11pts
Neville – 12pts
Clifford – 21pts

Day two did not deliver the promised SW breeze for the scheduled 11:15 start time, resulting in a delay for the wind to fill in. PRO Karen Tenenbaum from Marblehead was able to get the fleet off at 12:35. As the wind built to a steady 10+kts 3 more races were completed. With the discard coming into play, Rodriguez and Neville continued their winning ways. In the full rig, Rodriguez was in the envious position of discarding a 1st place while Hiebert and Shope traded places from their day 1 positions. In the radial fleet, Seidenberg continued to dominate with Clifford making ground on Neville who held onto 2nd place.

Day 2 results (6 races scored) with Masters Handicap:

Rodriguez – 15
Shope – 25
Hiebert – 28

Seidenberg – 18pts
Neville – 20pts
Clifford – 22pts

Day 3 started with classic Palm Beach conditions forecast at 80º+ temperature and SSE 12 knots, and 2 races sailed in almost perfect conditions. In the full rig, Rodriguez continued his dominance and closed out the series discarding a 2nd place in race 8, closely followed by Shope and Hiebert. Neville places 1 and 2 on the final races, but was pipped by Canadian Grand Master Paul Clifford on handicap by just 2 points after Seidenberg had a bad 7th race.

Final results (8 races scored) with Masters Handicap:

Rodriguez – 21
Shope – 33
Hiebert – 44

Clifford – 27pts
Neville – 29pts
Seidenberg – 34pts

Full results: https://www.regattanetwork.com/clubmgmt/applet_regatta_results.php?regatta_id=17142&show_laser_masters=1

The famous Green Jackets were awarded for the second year in succession to both Ernesto Rodriguez and Paul Clifford continuing the tradition started by the late Jack Swenson and the Royal Turkey Yacht Club.

This event proved the slogan on this year’s regatta shirt “From Apprentice to Legend…Masters Racing Never Gets Old” with the oldest competitor placing 3rd in the Radial class just behind one of the youngest. There is no doubt that the Laser class have the Masters handicap formula right regardless of the controversy that has surrounded this iconic single handed boat in recent years. The heart and soul of this class is clearly the Masters sailors and they will continue regardless.

Source: Geoff Jarvis, Regatta Chair, Palm Beach Sailing Club

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