Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mike Leigh becomes Canada's Olympic Laser Contender

Report from CYA News. Click pic to enlarge, it's worth it! Crash photo from regatta website

- Ralph, Montreal Sailing

2008 Laser Worlds – Final Day

Defending champion Tom Slingsby of Australia successfully defended his crown and is the 2008 Laser World Champion. Although the event did not end as anyone would hope with a day long postponement and finally an abandonment of the final races the Slingsby is a quality and deserving champion. With 10 races in the books no one can question the validity of his title it was well earned and hotly contested. Slingsby posted a pair of bullets in races 9 and 10 to wrestle the championship away from week long leader Julio Alsogaray of Argentina, whom ultimately ended up with the Silver Medal followed by Spain’s Javier Hernadez who wins the Bronze.

Radical seas and winds that posted recorded averages in excess of 25 knots with gusts to 30 knots ultimately forced regatta organizers to abandon racing for the day. The finality of the event hit home in many ways as this was the final country qualification event leading up to the Olympic Games and also an individual selection event for some countries. Canada was among those countries using the event as an individual qualifier.

The impact on Canadian sailors results in Mike Leigh qualifying to represent Canada at the 2008 Olympic Games. Mike’s 23rd place performance was top amongst the Canadian contingent that included Abe Torchinsky (35th overall), Bernard Luttmer (40th overall), and David Wright (46th overall) as the other Canadian’s in the hunt for the Olympic berth following the division of fleets into Gold, Silver and Bronze after the first six races. As an early front runner Abe Torchinsky set the pace for the Canadians, but as the event wore on the consistency of Mike Leigh won out. Each and every Canadian Laser sailor should be pleased by the efforts they put forth over the duration of this campaign. It has been a long time since Canada has had as many quality competitors amongst the worlds best. At present Canada has 5 athletes amongst the top 50 in the World rankings including Mike Leigh 5th, Bernard Luttmer 15th, David Wright 30th, Mike Kalin 34th and Abe Torchinsky 41st.

The focus for Mike now turns to the Olympic Games. A series of solid scores throughout the down under circuit give reason for optimism. Mike’s score line includes, a Gold Medal at the 2007 Sydney International Regatta (Dec 07), a Silver Medal at the 2008 Australian Nationals (Dec 07 - Jan 08) and a 5th place finish at the Sail Melbourne Asian Pacific Regatta. Stay tuned to the CYA pages as we follow our athletes preparation and ultimately their performances at the 2008 Olympic Games.