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Tom Burton kicks-off 2015 by winning Australian Laser National title

by Cora Zillich, Australian Sailing 5 Jan 2015 10:38 GMT 27 December 2014 - 4 January 2015
Tom Burton kicks-off 2015 by winning the 2015 Australian Laser National title © Perth Sailing Photography

It was a successful kick-off of the New Year for members of the Australian Sailing Team (AST) and Squad (ASS) with Australian Sailing Team's Laser World #1 Tom Burton (NSW) taking home the Open Laser Nationals win and Australian Sailing Squad's runner-up Matt Wearn (WA) winning the Laser Youth Champion title over the week-end.

Ashley Stoddart (QLD) won the Laser Radial Female Champion title, with the raising youth star and 2014 Australian Sailing Youth Team member Alistair Young (WA) winning the overall Laser Radial Nationals at the 2015 Open Laser Nationals, which wrapped up in Mandurah, WA on Sunday (4 January 2015).

On Saturday (3 January 2015), the 2014 Australian 9er Championships finished at the Jervois Bay Sailing Club, WA with Australian Sailing Squad's U21 World Champions Joel Turner (QLD) and Lewis Brake (QLD) winning the regatta ahead of AST's David Gilmour (WA) and Rhys Mara (VIC). Tess Lloyd (VIC) and Caitlin Elks (WA) were the top ranked female 49erFX crew.

2015 Open Laser Nationals

The Laser Standard title was already locked away on Saturday, after Tom Burton had won seven out of the twelve races ahead of local Matt Wearn and posted three second places behind Wearn. These results allowed Burton a rest day on Sunday before continuing on to the Moth Worlds in Sorrento, VIC this week.

19-year old Matt Wearn took advantage of Burton's absence to win the last two races on Sunday finishing the regatta in second overall as well as with the National Youth Champion title.

All week Tom Burton and Matt Wearn were exceptionally close in leading the fleet. This made for exciting world-class laser sailing and Tom Burton was very complimentary about his training partner who gave him value for money throughout the race week:

"We've had some of the closest races I've ever had. Matt is probably one of the fastest guys in the kind of breeze we had all week. And I was really happy to beat him and to beat him in more races than he beat me. We were the two fastest guys out there and kept an eye on each other, which showed in the results. Every race was within a few seconds, maximum 20-30 seconds. It came down to the wire in nearly every race", Tom Burton said after the regatta.

"I didn't sail between Sail Melbourne and Nationals and it ended up being a great fitness week. I couldn't have had any better training, couldn't have gone any harder and it couldn't have gotten more intense. To race like that for five to six consecutive days straight is very hard and going into Miami this was probably the toughest and best training we could've done."

About the value of the Nationals, which also served as a national selection event for the Laser World Championships in Canada at the end of June, Burton added: "You always want to win the national titles. You want to be known as the best sailor in your country for the year. We also had to secure our spot for the World Championships here and it was good to seal this off with a win."

The national title tops off a very successful year for the World #1 ranked Laser sailor Tom Burton, who most recently won the ISAF Sailing World Cup final in Abu Dhabi in November as well as the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Melbourne in December.

Burton knows he will be chased this year and relishes the situation he is in:

"I like everyone expecting me to be in front of them and that's where I want to be. It's good to be chased by others as it means I'm in front of them and that's a good place to be."

Australian Sailing's strong laser squad athletes all finished in the top five of the Laser Standard fleet. The squad is progressing strongly under Olympic bronze medallist coach Michael Blackburn.

In the Laser Radial, ASS's Ashley Stoddart came fifth overall and first female, securing her the Laser Radial Female Champion title – her first national title:

"It's the first time I've won the national title, which is pretty cool. And it's a qualification event for our Worlds in Oman, so I'm very happy about this result. We've had lots of wind, lots of hiking and it's been great to race in a mixed fleet with the guys raising the bar and it's been good to keep upping and upping my game too."

2014-15 Zhik AUS 9er Championships

Held at Jervoise Bay in Western Australia the regatta saw all skiff teams revealing high levels of skill with fresh to frightening breezes pushing new boundaries on many days, in combination with a couple of tricky lighter days interspersed in the series.

The top U21 crew at the 2014 U24 World Championship, Joel Turner and Lewis Brake put in an impressive event winning ten out of fifteen races, outsailing runner-ups David Gilmour and Rhys Mara, who finished the event in second, and securing national title bragging rights.

After racing Lewis Brake declared that the week had produced some of the best sailing conditions he had experienced:

"We've never sailed over here in Perth before but we enjoyed the sea breezes and the conditions in general. It's been a great place to sail. And of course it's great to win the regatta and take home the trophy and bragging rights."

And about the strength of the 49er squad and plans ahead Joel Turner added, "It's great to win an event in our home country and race against our training partners, like David and Rhys. The whole Australian squad is really strong at the moment and it's great that we have such good competition amongst the team. Pushing each other lifts the level as a whole, which should help all of us once we head overseas again."

George Stent and Ben Robinson won the 49erFX with Australian Sailing Squad members Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks following in second and first female crew, securing them the 49erFX women's title.

"We didn't win the fleet but the female category, which is great. It means a lot to win the national title as we've worked really hard last year." Caitlin Elks said at the end of the regatta. "We've progressed a lot and keep making gains and it's a nice way to finish off last year's season and to kick-off 2015. We'll be racing at the Oceania regatta this week here in WA, before heading to Miami."

Haylee Outteridge with new 49erFX partner Sarah Cook came overall fourth after leading the regatta at one point. The pair was happy with their overall state of preparation after having sailed together only for three months as Haylee Outteridge explained:

"We were really excited to race at the nationals and have enjoyed racing the other girls. We are a new combination and put a lot of value on the time we can race the other crews. We've been doing a lot of training on our own so to have three to four races a day has been a really good opportunity for us to work on our racing and technical skills. We've come a long way since we started three months ago, which is very exciting."

World Champion Kurt Hansen and new crew 2014 Australian Sailing Youth Team's Jim Colley's won the 29er class.

Next year's Australian 9er Championships, following the Yachting Australia rotation policy, will be held at a venue in New South Wales, while the Laser Championship

ASS – AST Results:

Laser Nationals (Mandurah, WA 27 December 2014 – 4 January 2015)

Laser Standard (top five)
1 Tom Burton, GSC, NSW, 13 pts
2 Matt Wearn, FSC / RPYC, WA, 15 pts (1st Youth)
3 Ryan Palk, NYRC, QLD
4 Luke Elliott, FSC/RFBYC, WA
5 Mitchell Kennedy, MYC / RQYS, QLD

Laser Radial (top five)
1 Alistair Young, FSC/RFBYC, WA (1st Youth)
2 Tristan Brown, FSC/RFBYC, WA
3 Conor Nicholas, SoPYC/FSC, WA
4 Finnian Alexander, DBSC, NSW
5 Ashley Stoddart, RQYS, QLD, (1st Female)

All results for 2015 Laser Nationals at www.yachtingaustralia.com.au/site/yachting/event/65398/default.html

Zhik AUS 9er Championships (Jervois Bay, WA, 28 December 2014 – 3 January 2015)

49er
1 Joel Turner/Lewis Brake, SYC, QLD, 17 pts
2 David Gilmour/Rhys Mara, RFBYC, WA/NSW, 26 pts
3 Logan Dunning Beck/Jack Simpson, WBC, NZL, 45 pts
4 Harry Price/Harry Morton, B16'SC, NSW, 56 pts

49erFX
1 George Stent/Benjamin Robinson, WSC, NSW, 27 pts
2 Tess Lloyd/Caitlin Elks, FSC/SYC/PYC/SSCBC/RBYC, VIC/WA, 37 pts
3 Griselda Khng/Sara Tan, SIN 33, SIN, SIN, 41 pts
4 Haylee Outteridge/Sarah Cook, AUS 14, WASC/CYC, NSW/ACT, 45 pts

29er
1 Kurt Hansen/Jim Colley, RPAYC/GSC, NSW, 26 pts
2 John Cooley/Angus Williams, WSC/M16'SSC, NSW, 36 pts
3 Kyle O'Connell/Tom Siganto, SYC, QLD, 40 pts

All results for 2014-15 Zhik AUS 9er Championships at www.yachtingaustralia.com.au/site/yachting/event/64871/default.html

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