Gold and silver for Australia at Laser Worlds
21 September 2006
Michael Blackburn and Tom Slingsby have finished one-two at the Laser World Championships in Jeju, Korea. The Australian Sailing Team members finished ahead of Swede Rasmus Myrgren who won the bronze.
For the first few days of the regatta, Slingsby and Blackburn were in equal first place, until Typhoon ShanShan wrecked havoc over Jeju and stopped the competition for two days.
The two days which followed resulted in no wind, with the competition again halted. However, on the final days of competition the wind picked up and yesterday the gold fleet finally got away under a black flag, just 30 minutes before the cut off time for starting.
Going into the race Blackburn had the luxury of a fourth place as his discard whilst Slingsby was already discarding a 20th. Blackburn only needed to be in front of Slingsby or have Slingsby finish worse than ninth.
The Championship was sealed early on in the race with Slingsby rounding 28th and Blackburn 56th. Slingsby recovered to finish 17th and Blackburn finishing 36th.
“I can't quite believe it. I kind of got used to finishing big regattas anywhere other than 1st. But now, after some 16 years sailing a Laser and 12 years competing internationally, I've finally won the Worlds. Wow!" Blackburn commented after the win.
He went on to say, ''I matched raced Tom a little before the start(s) but he slipped in front of me. He needed to finish ninth or better. I followed him up the beat to see him round the top about 28th. By the next top mark he was about 22nd and got up to 15th at the finish, not quite enough."
Blackburn is a three time Olympian (2004, 2000, 1996) and bronze medallist from the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
In 2006 has won the Singapore Laser Trophy as well as the Asia Pacific Laser Championships. He placed third at Kiel Week in Germany in June this year.
Tom Slingsby has had an outstanding year with wins in the Laser class at Sail Melbourne, Princess Sophia Trophy in Hyeres, ISAF World Sailing Games in Austria and the Holland Regatta.
“I was disappointed not winning the Championships, however I am really happy for Michael and that Australia has won gold and silver at this regatta. It’s an excellent way to cap off the 2006 season for both of us,” Blackburn said.
The pair will now head back to Australia and prepare for the Australian Sailing Team Training Camp at Hamilton Island in October.