Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Amongst Canada's Best Sailors are Single-handers Focused Down Under

The Finns in action in Melbourne

If you wanna race against the best, in the most exciting, competitive class in Canada and internationally, who are ya gonna call?

Well, I think the answer is not exclusive, but becoming increasingly evident. It is Canada's most formidable sailors in the Laser classes. These successful racers are placing well in all the big international regattas. They are Canada's very strong Olympian contenders in the upcoming games. This thought came to mind while reviewing the early results of Sail Melbourne Asia Pacific Regatta 2008. Here are the Canadians competing down under at Melbourne:

Lisa Ross is currently in 10th overall, with a 4th in the most recent race at Melbourne. She is ranked as the 26th best Laser Radial sailor in the world according to ISAF. Her best showings this past year would have to be the 8th overall in the North American Championship, and 4th at the Radial Midwinters East in the U.S. Both are grade 1 events.

A competitor to keep watching is youth sailor Isabella Bertold, currently in 34th at Melbourne. she is the 4th highest ranking youth competitor in the current Melbourne standings.

Right now, Michael Leigh is the top Canadian in the Men's Laser Standard, in 6th overall, with a 2nd place in the 2nd race. At the Sydney International Regatta just last month, Leigh won the event. That was an ISAF grade 1 regatta. Last summer, in the Medemblik regatta (NED), he took 3rd, the Euro championship at Hyeres, he took 3rd overall, 32nd at the ISAF World's, then 3rd at the Qingdao Olympic Test Event.

Bernard Luttmer is currently 8th overall after 4 races in Melbourne. he also has a 2nd place in one of the races. In the last year, Luttmer sailed 6 grade 1 events and scored 14, 2, 14, 5, then at CORK Luttmer won the show, and at Sydney Int'l Regatta he grabbed 3rd overall. Wow.

Michael Kalin sits in 17th overall at Melbourne with a best so far of 5th. He has been buried at times, but is showing great strength now with a 9th overall in Sydney, and 4th at CORK last summer.

Abe Torchinsky started Melbourne like he was on fire, placing 3rd and 1st in the first two rounds. The next two races he was caught out and sits in 25th overall. Torchinsky is achingly close to making the medal rounds of grade one regattas.

David Wright is currently ranked as the 35th best in the world. At Melbourne, his first race was an OCS, but he has come back forcefully with 7th, 2nd, and 4th in the following races!

Aside from the Laser sailors above, Chris Cook had a tough time with 2 DNFs to start Melbourne in the Finn Class, but has blazed back with a 22nd, then a 3rd.

Andrew Wong sailing a Laser Radial is doing superbly placing 6th overall in Melbourne. Oskar Johansson and Kevin Stittle got nipped by a an OCS in the Tornado Class but are sailing very well with their best so far being a 6th in the first round.

The results indicate that any of the Canadians above, in Melbourne, could be medalists in the Olympics. There is a chance for huge success in Canadian sailing with these competitors. I doubt many Canadians realize what a strong team of Canadian sailors are likely to go to the Olympics this time round.

This leads Montreal Sailing to ask a local question! Regular readers of this blog might be able to guess my preoccupation. Why are we not following the lead of yacht clubs in Nova Scotia, Kingston, Toronto, Vancouver, and developing high performance single-handed sailing in our sport. Why don't we even have more single-handed just for fun for all ages. It is the most affordable for all, day sailors, and high performance oriented alike. Old and young can enjoy it, from Optimists to catboats. They are the most accessible of boats. Those wanting to travel to events out of town can do so far more easily than with a keelboat. Of course, no panic over crew makes things simple. I think the total focus on the Club 420 for teaching, and the huge expense of membership dues on these boats has been perhaps a bit too narrow of focus. In my mind, the opportunity to develop a wider, more fun base for sailing, as well as grow high-performance sailing is in Lasers, and any other one design single-hander we want to have fun in .

For racing in Montreal and the contribution it could make to the quality of our programs, including future keelboat fleets, for the future of the sport, its accessibility, our numbers of competitors, and buddies to kibbitz with after the races, we should begin by reviving the Laser class!