Rio gold medallist Tom Burton (NSWIS) has won the Laser Worlds in Miho, Japan while fellow Australian sailor Matt Wearn came second overall.
It’s an outstanding result for Australia and the Australian Sailing Team (AST) with the 2020 Olympics little more than a year away.
Tom Burton did not have the best day with 14th and 51st places in the final two races. However, going into the day the NSW Institute of Sport athlete held an 18-point buffer over his nearest rival and was 20 points clear of Wearn, who was sitting in third. Burton, from Sydney, also carried an affordable race drop of 14th, which was replaced with today’s 51st.
It meant a win by four points for Burton over his teammate. Wearn, who won the Laser European Championship in late May, sailed consistently to sixth and fifth places in the final two races to end the Worlds in second place.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. Not the best final day for me, but it didn’t have to be in the end” said Burton.
“It’s pretty difficult to make big comebacks in the Gold fleet – I made one in the first race though. I was 40th and came back to 14th. I’ve watched others do that, and I finally I managed to do it, which is why I held on in the end,” he said.
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“In the last race, at the last minute, I was working on a nice gap at the start near Matt, but a guy stuffed my start up completely. That wasn’t great; a bad time to happen. I knew I needed to get a better result, but it didn’t happen. Fortunately, I had a good enough break on the rest to carry me through to win.”
“Championships are long events and consistency pays more than winning races, so being pretty consistent all week helped me.”
“I’m fortunate that I’ve won an Olympic gold medal already and I wanted to win a Worlds. I’ve come very close a couple of times, but it’s fallen apart at the last minute. It nearly happened again today, but I was able to pull through. It a great feeling to hang on and finish it off,” an elated Burton ended.
Australia has long had an abundance of talent in the Laser class, resulting in top results on the world and Olympic stage. Australian Olympic selectors have been spoilt for choice and have had to make difficult decisions through past Olympic cycles. Selection for Tokyo will be no different.
This Laser team is fortunate to be coached by Michael Blackburn, a former world champion in the class and double Olympian with a bronze medal from the Sydney 2000 Games. Blackburn coached Tom Slingsby to Laser Gold at the 2012 Olympics and Tom Burton to his Olympic gold medal at Rio. His background and coaching skills hold the team in good stead.
Full final results: https://2019worlds.laserjapan.org/standard/results
Laser Australian Sailing Team results after 12 races (156 boats)
1st Tom Burton – 2,(21),4,4,3,4,8,2,5,13,14,(51) = 59
2nd Matt Wearn – 13,7,3,1,2,1,(19),18,(30),1,6,5 = 63
35th Mitch Kennedy – 4,15,7,7,(17),3,2,(52),34,48,40,37 = 197
38th Luke Elliott – 29,13,(BFD),10,12,16,(48),31,25,30,5,30 = 201
44th Finn Alexander – 12,(BFD),14,19,4,14,20,41,24,(43),36,53 = 227