In a tense climax to the Laser Master World Championships in Dun Laoghaire this afternoon, Mark Lyttle won his first World Laser Title when he clinched the 66-boat Grand Master division on Dublin Bay, some 22 years after representing Ireland in the Laser class at the Atlanta Olympic Games.
Although Lyttle started the day with a six-point margin eeked out after a week of clever racing, home waters provided little local comfort for the Blackrock sailor who had to contend with an abandoned race when he had all his rivals safely behind him. Instead, in the dying airs of an Autumn afternoon, Lyttle finished just two points ahead of Spain's tenacious Carlos Martinez who won the final race of the 11-race regatta.
Lyttle, who hails from the National Yacht Club and who was a race winner at the Atlanta Games, hit this Worlds event in an age sweet–spot (he’s just turned 55) and qualified for the GrandMaster division (the biggest fleet in the event) to win it on the first occasion.
The Multi Irish champion won the UK Laser Masters Championships in June in some style, with six firsts in eight races but today's World title will easily eclipse that and its made all the sweeter by winning on home waters too!
After a touch and go battle with light winds on Dublin Bay, both course areas delivered a final race to round off the Laser Masters World Championships.
The eleventh race did little to alter the leaderboards with emphatic class wins in all but two fleets.
As reported above, Lyttle emerged victorious in the Standard Grand Master class despite placing seventh in the final. Sweden’s Tomas Nordqvist had been challenging for the top spot but had a 14th place that dropped him to fifth overall.
There was a similar battle for the overall win in the Standard Apprentice class that ended the week-long match-race between Spain’s Leandro Rosado and Canada’s Gord Welsh with the Iberian sailor edging ahead by two points.
A race win for Roger O’Gorman sealed third place in that 14-strong class and settled the four-way battle between leading Irish boats after previous overnight leader David Quinn had a discarded ninth for the day.
Of the lady helms competing in the championships, the biggest grouping was in the Radial Grand Master class where Lyndall Patterson emerged best of the seven sailors, beating fellow-Australian Camilla Graves into second overall.
Of the five women racing in the Radial Master class, Canada’s Caroline Muselet was best in addition to placing eighth in the main class.
Amongst the ‘slam-dunk’ classes that saw impressive consistency all week, there were few surprises despite the light winds offering to shake-up the standings.
Australia’s Brett Beyer had a tenth in the final to win comfortably as he discarded the result as his worst of eleven races; all his other races were top three finishes. In the Radial Grand Master class, the other big fleet of the event, Britain’s Stephen Cockerill had a second place and secured the title with over 20 points to spare.
In the 37-strong Radial Grand Master class, there was little doubting the vice-like grip on the fleet from Bill Symes of the United States after seven race wins. Ireland’s Christopher Boyd won the final race to secure third behind Sweden’s Lasse Wastesson.
New Zealander Scott Leith won his eleventh world title after easing into second place thus ending a series of all top three results for the week. And with only one race in prospect as the time-limit for the day ran down, Germany’s Wolfgang Gerz sailed ashore and still won the Standard Great Grand Master class.
Amongst the Radial Apprentices, Ben Elvin from the Britain also dropped the final race after a brace of race wins leaving Dubliner Andrew Byrne to take the race win and third overall behind Optimist coach Thomas Chaix from France racing under his adoptive Irish colours.