Tom Slingsby takes a step towards sailing greatness with fifth Laser world title
Australian sailor Tom Slingsby has won the 2012 Audi Laser World Championship with a race to spare in Boltenhagen, Germany.
The 2012 title was Slingsby’s fifth in six years as he cements his position at the top of the Laser class in the final run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“This could be my last Laser World Championship and it’s great to finish it so well,” said Slingsby. “I sailed my best this week in conditions that I traditionally haven’t done well in, so to win it like this feels really good. This is my fifth Laser world title but it’s my first in light conditions which is really satisfying.”
“Hopefully this win sends the message that I’m definitely no light wind pushover,” he said. “Heading into the Games I know that I still need to improve and that I still have work to do. The rest of the fleet is going to be trying to topple me so I’ve got to be on my game and keep pushing.”
Slingsby went into the final day with a 20-point lead over Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic knowing that a strong opening race would be enough to seal the title.
“I knew that I had to beat Tonci and have a few boats in between us to wrap it up, I went out and did that and was able to sit out the final race,” said Slingsby. “I rounded somewhere between 15th and 20th and had a good first downwind to get back to seventh or eighth at the bottom.
“I was fifth by the top mark and then pulled a few boats back on the downwind to get up to second,” he said. “I saved my best till last today, this morning’s race was easily my best of the regatta and it was when it counted.”
While Slingsby was all smiles after his win his regatta nearly came to a grinding halt after injuring his ankle on Wednesday evening.
“Last night after racing I rolled my ankle. It was pretty sore overnight so we went off to the hospital this morning to get it x-rayed,” he said.
“Luckily there was no fracture so I got it heavily strapped and got back in time for racing, getting out to the course with about 35 minutes to spare,” he said. “Things were a bit tight for a while there but everything came together in the end.
“Now it’s time for some rest and recuperation, get the ankle sorted out and do some training in Italy before heading to Weymouth for the final regatta there before the Games,” he said.
Slingsby led the event from start to finish, winning five of the 14 races and finishing in the top 10 in another six.
“I’ve been saying for a while now that if I sail well I know I can win, whether it’s a World Cup event, a World Championship or an Olympics,” said Slingsby. “I know that if I’m sailing well I’m the only person that can beat me. I’ve managed to beat all comers in the last few years.
“Heading into the Games everything’s on track and I’m preparing the best I can,” he said. “Winning here is a great build up for London, I wouldn’t want to be in any other position at this stage.”
Fellow Australian Tom Burton had his best ever result at a Laser World Championship, finishing the week fifth overall.
Burton was in the mix all week, picking up eight top 10 finishes from the 14 races and showing good speed off the line in the light, shifty conditions.
His 11th and sixth on the final day moved him up to fifth overall, just 11 points off the podium.
“My performance was solid this week,” said Burton. “I read over my notes from the worlds last year and made a point on trying to fix some major errors that I made then.
“I was up there all week and was sitting in third on two occasions but had two very bad days and against this fleet having even one bad day will knock you out of contention to win the title,” he said. “Although it was a very tough series and even with two really bad days I was able to get up to fifth and am very happy with that result.”
Ashley Brunning finished the event in 13th position, sailing well as he continues to return from a back injury sustained last year.
Ryan Palk was 30th, ahead of James Burman in 46th and Matthew Wearn in 53rd.
Jared West was 30th in the silver fleet, with Ki-Raphael Sulkowski and Klade Hauschildt 27th and 51st respectively in the bronze fleet.
The nine Australian sailors were supported in Germany by Australian Sailing Team Laser class head coach Michael Blackburn.