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BVI Sailors Compete at Laser Midwinters East  –  Coming off the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, many sailors choose to part from the respective classes they race in or take on new challenges elsewhere. Some, who may not have qualified in 2008, will look towards 2012 in London; while the ones who have competed may look to attend again four years down the road.  With 2009 being year one of the four-year cycle until the next games, it is always interesting to see which athletes decide to stay and which decide to go. 

Over the 19th—22nd of February, the 2009 Laser Midwinters East took place in Clearwater Beach, Florida. This marked one of the first Laser regattas for the 2009 North American season. It showed who from the area and abroad was back from 2008, as well as back from the recent Olympic Games, to compete in the Laser Radial and Laser Standard, two of the ten classes that make up sailing in the Olympic Games. 

 

The field of competitors ran deep with Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) and Lisa Ross (Canada), both Female Laser Radial representatives in the Beijing Olympics, taking part in the event. Anna is the 2008 Female Laser Radial World Champion as well as a Beijing Olympic Gold Medallist. The class also had Paige Railey, 2005 and 2006 Female Laser Radial World Champion, racing in the field of 110 sailors. The Laser 4.7 field also saw up-and-coming Laser stars from different states in the US.

The 2009 BVI Youth Sailing team competed in both the Laser Radial Class as well as the Laser 4.7 Class. The first two days of competition saw conditions ranging from light wind to heavy 20-22 knot breezes and a large swell. The Laser Radial class was split into two divisions, Gold Fleet (top half overall) and Silver Fleet (bottom half overall), after five races had been completed. Going into the final two days, BVI sailor Alec Anderson put up five results in the top ten to sit in twelfth in the Gold Fleet. On day two in the Laser 4.7, DonTae Hodge earned two top-three finishes, placing third overall, and BVI’s Inigio Collins was in thirteenth out of the 15-boat class.

 

Days three and four brought a mix of light, shifty conditions that resulted in large inconsistencies within the fleet. At the top of the Laser Radial fleet, Lisa Ross (Canada), Paige Railey (USA) and Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) battled it out with Netherlands sailor Ben Kopplear for the top four spots. Going into the final day, the fourth through fourteenth positions were separated by a small margin of 19 points. Alec Anderson went into the final day sitting ninth overall in the Gold Fleet. DonTae Hodge dropped an “over early” start which meant he scored last plus one point, to drop down to seventh. 

On the final day, three races were held in tricky, light conditions with strong currents which made the course a difficult challenge for the sailors. The Laser 4.7s finished with two races in the day, and BVI’s DonTae Hodge finished eighth overall with teammate Inigo Collins in thirteenth overall. In the Laser Radial Class, many sailors within the top 14 scored their worst race of the series which caused them to drop in the standings. Alec Anderson boasted a sixth and a tenth in the first two races of the final day, leaving him in sixth overall before the final race. In order to move into the fourth spot, Alec needed to score a top-three finish as well have both competitors above him who were in fourth and fifth to score worse than fifteenth in the race. An incredible start to the final race left Alec in second at the first mark and both of his competitors in the deep 20’s. Alec went on to finish third in the race, resulting in the best race of his in the ten-race series. The two competitors who were in fourth and fifth going into the final race both scored worse than fifteenth, leaving Alec Andreson in fourth overall, and first Junior sailor out of the 110 sailors competing. Olympic Gold medallist Anna Tunicliffe finished second overall to Paige Railey and third place went to Ben Kopplear of the Netherlands. By finishing fourth, Alec earned one of his top international results to date and greatly improved on his finish of 28th overall at the same regatta last year.

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The 2009 BVI Laser Team was selected by sailors in December 2008 to focus on for training and competition. The team was accompanied by BVI Sailing Team coach Chris Watters from the Royal BVI Yacht Club. The Royal BVI Yacht Club is a member of the National Authority for the Sport of Sailing in the British Virgin Islands and works directly with the International Sailing Federation and the British Virgin Islands Olympic Committee. 

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