2019 Barfoot & Thompson Laser Nationals Preview

Entries are still open but with less than 2 weeks to go until racing gets underway at Manly Sailing Club in the 2019 Barfoot & Thompson Laser Nationals a large fleet is expected, with strong fields shaping up in all divisions.
 
In the Open Standards 2016 Olympic Bronze medallist and current World No 1 ranked San Meech must be the favourite but he will face challenges from several other NZ aspirants for the 2020 Olympic spot. These include Tom Saunders, also currently ranked in the World Sailing top 10, last years World Youth Champion Josh Armit, who has moved into the Standards for the first time this season after dominating the Radial in recent years and Wellingtonian George Gautry. 
 
Excellent Radial fleets at this season's early regattas show that the Radial division is extremely strong and promises to be a close and interesting battle. Recent Sir Peter Blake Trophy winner and women's Olympic aspirant Olivia Christie will probably rank as favourite but is facing strong challenges from many directions including fellow women's Olympic hopeful Annabell Rennie Younger, top youth sailors including Luke Cashmore, Harrison Baker, Caleb Armit and Samantha Stock and multiple World Masters champion Scott Leith, who has again chosen to sail in the open division and keep the younger sailors honest.
 
In the Masters Standard a strong local contingent led by 2018 winner Andrew Dellabarca (M) and runner-up in the recent Fiji Oceania Master Championship Dave Ridley (A) will be facing multiple international challenges. Top expat AusKiwis Matt Blakey (A) and ex-Grand Masters World Champion Gavin Dagley (GM) are entered together with a couple of top US Masters sailors, Charlie Buckingham and Mike Matan, who have obviously decided summer racing at Manly is just too good an opportunity to miss!
 
In the Masters Radial 2018 champion Ed Tam is back to defend his title and is sure to be well prepared and hard to beat as usual. He is again expected to face challenges from several of last years top 5 including South Island Radial GM Hamish Atkinson and fellow top Masters Mike Knowsley and Werner Henig.
 
The contest will be preceded by a two-day free coaching clinic open to all contest entries. With coaches including World No 1 Sam Meech and top women's sailor Olivia Christie its got to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to get the winning formula from the best Laser sailors in the world right now so get your contest entry in and get to Manly Thursday morning to be part of the coaching clinic.
 
Nick Page