40 year old Laser World Champion
Robert Scheidt was crowned 2013 Laser World Champion in Oman for the ninth time today after winning the final race of the regatta then proclaimed this Laser World Championship title as his best so far.
The 40 year-old Brazilian sailor started the last race just one point ahead of rival Pavlos Kontides but put in a flawless performance to win by two boat lengths, raising the Brazilian flag as he crossed the line to a round of cheers and applause from spectators and other competitors.
“This feels more special than any of the other Laser Worlds I have won,” said Scheidt, who returned to the Lasers after nine years in the Star class to compete at an Olympic Games in his home waters in Rio de Janeiro. “I am at a different stage of my life – being a dad and being away from Laser sailing all these years makes it more special. I didn’t know what to expect when I came back into the Lasers but winning the Worlds after a tough seven days means a lot.
“Rio is still a long way off and I shall have to see how my body holds up over the next few years but the next Olympic Games in Rio is definitely how I want to end my career.”
Had there been no racing at Mussanah Beach, his one point lead overnight would have earned him the championship and with ten minutes to go before the 3pm cut off time, there was no sign of any racing due to the light and shifty breeze.
But at 2.56pm the start gun was fired and Scheidt, Kontides and third-placed Tonci Stipanovic from Croatia all made good starts
“I had a good start which was key," he explained. "Started in the middle and played the first shifts well which put me in the leading group at the top mark. I managed to get ahead and protected my position. It was a tense race because the breeze was very flukey going right and left and the race committee did well to wait for the breeze to stabilize. The moment we started we had the best breeze we'd had all day but it was still very shifty.”
Kontides finished the race in 13th place to take the silver medal, trailing Scheidt by 13 points and while paying tribute to the Brazilian said he felt the odds were against him continuing to dominate in the way he had in Oman.
“He sailed a perfect race so well done to him,” said the 23 year-old Cypriot who was completing his studies in Ship Science at the same time as preparing for the Worlds. “But with some consistent training, I will be able to up my game and I know next season I will be much better. I am still learning and developing and Robert is at the peak of his game. Age wise he is 40 and at some stage will start to decline whereas I am 23 and on the up so the odds are against him.
“I decided the conditions were too tricky for any tactics – we have seen all week how the conditions demand proper sailing and a respect for the oscillating shifts so I thought the best thing to do was to do my best. I really wanted to taste the gold medal but I will be trying my hardest again next time.”
Germany’s Phillip Buhl won the bronze medal after finishing 10th in the final race which put him level on points with Rutger Schaardenburg from the Nederlands. Better results over the week gave him the advantage but it was bouncing back from being BFD in the final race on Friday that gave him most pleasure.
“I had a bad day on Friday so I’m very surprised to finish third,” he said. “I am not the best light winds sailor or at least I wasn’t but I’ve improved and I am better now in all conditions. Having Robert Scheidt back in the fleet is good fun – beating him is more fun than beating anyone else and we can learn a lot from him. He really deserved to win here.”
The prizegiving at the Al Mussanah Sports City where Scheidt, Kontides and Buhl were all presented with their medals, brought the curtain down on a tough but highly successful Laser World Championships, the first sailing championships to be hosted in Oman.