With the new year came strong winds and large waves for the fourth day of championship racing at the Peter Lehmann Wines Australian Laser Championship at Adelaide Sailing Club. A nice southerly of 15 knots gusting 18 started the day with it later building to 20-plus by the end.
Today was also the first day of championship racing for the Radial fleet with the Gold and Silver fleets now finalised. The sudden change of conditions proved difficult for the sailors with many in the Radial Silver and 4.7 fleets capsizing at the top mark or on the downwind trying to find their path through the steep waves.
Matthew Wearn finished the first race of the day in the Full Rig fleet quite a way in front of second. With the rest following quite close together and only a few sailors falling behind and finishing amongst the 4.7 fleet.
It became clear that the 4.7s, when set up correctly, can be just as fast as the full rigs on the upwind legs, making for some interesting racing on the course and for the finish boat trying to track who was who as they crossed the line.
Ashley Stoddart finished in first place on the second and last race for the day with close competition from some other sailors until the final leg where Ashley showed us her skills, finishing the race well ahead of the next lot of boats with a large smile and laugh as she crossed the line and sailed past the media boat.
All in all it was a challenging day for the first day of competition in 2017 in the complete opposite way than the start of the regatta in 2016.
May the strong — or at least nice — winds prevail for the final two days of the event.