New World Champion as Aussies take Sailing 1-2
10 July 2019
SAILING: Australia’s reigning Olympic Laser champion, Tom Burton has taken out the Laser World Championships in Miho, Japan, with compatriot Matt Wearn taking silver; an encouraging result with the 2020 Olympics just a year away.
Burton’s win wasn’t without a last minute scare, with 14th and 51st places on the final day of races making it a much tighter finish than initially expected. Burton’s 18-point buffer going into the final day however proved to be the difference, getting him over the line to claim his first World Championship.
Burton was ecstatic to overcome a less than ideal final day of racing to emerge as World Champion.
“I’m fortunate that I’ve won an Olympic gold medal already and I wanted to win a Worlds,” Burton said.
“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.
“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.
“Championships are long events and consistency pays more than winning races, so being pretty consistent all week helped me.”
Having compatriot and eventual silver medallist Matt Wearn right behind him in the standings helped push Burton to the gold medal.
“Matt is always there keeping me honest and vice versa,” Burton said.
“Is it a pressure situation? Yes and no. Obviously Matt jumped me last time (at the Laser Europeans). I unravelled on the last day and he won.
“We have different strengths and weaknesses and learn from each other. It’s a great way for Australia to finish; top two. And it’s nice to share it with a fellow Australian. We want to show how dominant Australia is in the class – which it has been for around the last 10 years.”
West Australian Matt Wearn completed the Aussie one-two, jumping from third to second on a tight final day of racing.
“At the start of the day, Tom had a pretty handy lead on the rest of us. It was close from second to 13th places,” Wearn said.
“I was in third coming in, so second was a plausible goal, but it was a pretty hard order to win in the conditions today.”
Throughout the race, Wearn faced stiff competition with previous Olympic medallists and world champions closely trailing him.
“You go out there and sail like you usually do and try and win the race; you don’t think about the others. This Worlds was more cut throat than usual though. People were willing to push the limits more. There were 10 or 15 guys capable of winning a World Championship here and that makes it harder.”
Mitch Kennedy was next best placed of the Aussies in 35th overall, while Luke Elliott climbed up the board to 38th overall, courtesy of fifth and 30th places on the final day, while Finn Alexander finished 44th overall.
Australian sailing president Matt Allen spoke glowingly of the team’s efforts.
“What a fantastic result for Australia to get 1, 2 and a terrific reflection on two great athletes and amazing result for Michael Blackburn, their coach.” Allen said.