Mastering It

Mastering It

Our friend Bill Symes, the Commodore of the CGRA, sends us this report from Halifax, Nova Scotia  the site of the Laser Master Worlds. We slacked on getting this one up yesterday, but as of this moment, Bill is in 6th place in the Grand Master division. Photo from the amazing Argentino, Matias Capizzano.

First, some clarification. We’re not actually in Halifax. We’re in St. Margarets Bay, a 45-minute drive west of Halifax. It’s a deep water inlet about 10 miles long and 3 miles wide ringed with impossibly picturesque coves. A beautiful place to sail. (Morbid note: it was at the entrance to St. Margarets Bay that SwissAir Flight 111 went down in Sept. 1998.)

Also, the Laser Master Worlds are not to be confused with the Laser ”Senior” Worlds that wrapped up here last Wednesday (won by 2008 Olympic gold medalist Paul Goodison). The “seniors” are elite athletes who compete at the professional and Olympic level, and very much our junior. All you need to do to sail in Master Worlds is to be at least 35 years old and still breathing. That’s it.

Not that Masters aren’t serious. Among the ranks of the 295 entrants are a lot of big names from Laser legend: Bertrand, Neilson, Cockerill, Pimental, Tillman, Seidenberg, and more. The field includes Olympic medalists and former world champions. Most of these guys still work very hard at it. There will be no slackers at the front of the fleet.

Laser masters are divided by age into 4 divisions: Apprentice (35-44), Master (45-54), Grand Master (55-64), and Great Grand Master (65+). They are further divided by rig (standard and radial) and gender (male and female). Great Grand Masters and women sail only in radials. So, at the end of the week, we will crown not one, but 11 champions. I’ll let you do the math.

In my division, Grand Masters, the man to beat is 6-time (and defending) master world champion, 2-time Olympian and former World Champ in the Soling and J-24 classes Mark Bethwaite from Australia. He’ll be hard pressed by former Finn Gold Cup winner and German Olympian Wolfgang Gerz, plus a whole bunch of very good sailors you never heard of. My goal is to break the top 10. It won’t be easy, and I’ll try to keep you posted.  You can check out results here.