Australia’s Laser Team will begin racing at the 2018 Laser European Championships on Monday buoyed by a gutsy effort in unfavourable conditions at the World Cup Series regatta in Hyeres.
Coach Michael Blackburn conceded that his five-strong squad was displeased with aspects of their performances in light winds in the south of France earlier this week, but drew confidence from their determination to finish strongly.
“All the guys were angry at themselves at times, getting some big scores,” Blackburn said from La Rochelle, which will host the Euros next week.
“But after a while they realised it was spread around the fleet a bit. Everyone had their bad days in the light winds. But what it offered them was the chance to practice a bit of mental toughness, and they did well with that.”
Tom Burton and Matt Wearn each sailed discards inside the first four races, but steamed home in the latter parts of the regatta. Burton claimed a bronze medal and Wearn finished ninth in the 68-boat fleet. Squad member Finn Alexander was four places further back, but picked up a 2 in his final race. Luke Elliott and Mitch Kennedy came 39th and 40th, respectively, and they, too, improved as the regatta progressed.
Blackburn has been joined in La Rochelle by Australian Sailing coach Tristan Brown, who is working with Alexander, Elliott and Kennedy, while Blackburn concentrates on Burton and Wearn.
“We’ve certainly analysed what went well and where the major points were lost at Hyeres,” Blackburn said.
“It was a light wind regatta so the starts for everyone were a key part of the regatta. It was a very good fleet and it was hard to get off the start line well. That’s something we’ll spend a bit more time practicing at La Rochelle in the lead-up to the Europeans. We have the chance here to get back involved in some group training and take advantage of there being a lots of boats here to practice with. There are 70 boats here from the World Cup and there’s 160-something entries overall so it’s going to get pretty busy.
“The Euros is an important event, particularly because the Europeans take it very seriously. They regard it as No.2 to the Worlds, so it gives us a great chance to have some good competition.”
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