The ICLA 6 (laser radial) Master’s Worlds were held on Banderas Bay on the west coast of Mexico. The lure of warm weather, a daily 12 to 15 knot sea breeze with good waves, and the yacht club being based in a resort at Puerto Vallarta make this a pretty hard venue to beat. The occasional turtle popping its head up or dolphins playing were an added bonus.
My approach to racing was to have fun, not overly presume what the wind would do, keep my eyes out of the boat, and manage risk as much as possible while digging into one side of the course (yes – it does sound contradictory but the middle of the course rarely worked).
The first few races were in 8 to 12 knots and I was spotting the pressure better than most and had a boat speed advantage on the fleet upwind. I was first or second to the top mark on the first upwind, was able to maintain my position or gain a bit on the downwind legs and was able to extend on the top reach.
By the end of day 2, I had two wins, a second and a third and was leading the regatta. For the next few races I had a 4, 3, 3 – however, the Canadian sailor Al Clark beat me in each of these races. The next couple of races weren’t so good due to picking the wrong side of the course or being on the the wrong side of a large shift – I had a 7th which I had to carry and an 8th.
In Race 10, I started down towards favoured pin end, avoided the chaos at the pin itself (boats hitting the pin boat and/or over the line) and was soon able to tack in a line of pressure and cross the fleet to the favoured right hand side. With the wind in my now favourite 8 to 12 knot range I was able to extend and win the race.
Going into the final day, I was in second overall with Al Clark having a 5 point lead over me and an Argentinian sailor behind me by a similar margin. Racing was tight in the first race with myself second, the Argentinian third and Al Clark fourth.
The equation going into the final race was that I would win the regatta on countback if I won the race and Al Clark finished fourth or worse. I got a good start and knew that Al Clark was buried. I then heard a loud expletive and saw that Al had capsized while tacking. I was in the first few boats for the majority of the race but had a few boats camp on me on the last upwind and ended up with a fourth – meaning Al won the regatta by 3 points and I was second.
Next master’s worlds are in Thailand in February and the flights are already booked!