Nick Thompson Repeats As Laser World Champion
Published: Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Nick Thompson from Britain won his second Laser Standard Men’s World Championship in Mexico May 10-18.
(Photos: John Pounder)
The wind on the final day was 15 degrees south of the typical direction but caused the biggest place changes 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. “It was definitely very stressful!” Thompson says.
Most 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,” says 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 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 10th 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 the fifth person in 42 years to successfully defend a Laser World Championship title.
Korean student candidate Jeemin Ha gained 22nd place and Colin Cheng from Changi Sailing Club in Singapore finished the race at 26th.
Final overall results after 14 races and 2 discards:
Nick Thompson (GBR) - 61pts
Jean-Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) - 73pts
Rutger van Schaardenburg (NED) - 88pts
Matthew Wearn (AUS) - 90pts
Marco Gallo (ITA) - 93pts
Tom Burton (AUS) - 101pts
Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) - 118pts
Philipp Buhl (GER) - 123pts
Jesper Stalheim (SWE) - 123pts
Robert Scheidt (BRA) - 127pts
Check out the regatta and speech from Nick Thompson: