Thursday, December 05, 2013

Come Back Kid

A few days ago I left a comment on Doug Peckover's Improper Course blog to encourage him after he had some less than stellar (for him) finishes in the Radial Grandmaster fleet on the first day of the Laser Master Worlds in Oman. I pointed out that, in a long regatta, there is often someone who struggles a bit in the first few races, but who then masters the prevailing conditions and puts together a string of good finishes to win the regatta. The early leader doesn't always win. And you should never count yourself out - or a fellow competitor out - especially if a known contender and former champion has a couple of bad races early in a long regatta.

What I described is exactly what has been happening in one of the other fleets in Oman, the Radial Great Grandmasters. My sailing buddy 76-year-old Peter Seidenberg has been leading the 38 boat fleet every day so far and is still leading after four days of racing. His nemesis in the GGM Radial fleet at the Master Worlds in the last few years has been the 69-year-old British sailor, Keith Wilkins who, like Peter, has won a gazillion world championships. In 2010 at Hayling Island in England, Keith was first and Peter second, a result that was repeated at San Francisco in 2011, and then in 2012 at the Masters Worlds in Brisbane Keith beat Peter by one point to take second overall.

This year, Keith got off to a slow start at the Master Worlds with a 14th and a 15th in the first two races. But then he put together an excellent series of six races over the next three days and has clawed himself back to second place. He is currently 10 points behind Peter. But if the second throwout is taken into account, he is effectively only 2 points behind Peter - and there are still four races to go. It's going to be an exciting finish.

So I was right. You can be a "come back kid." Even at 69.

Keith Wilkins


White Horse said...

Never give up

Tillerman said...

Exactly. Keith and Peter are both amazing sailors and an inspiration to us all. My guess is that they are going to be battling each other at the front of the GGM fleet in Laser Masters Worlds for at least another 10 years. I sincerely hope so.

/Pam said...

Doug has a fantastic story about how Keith arrived late for a Worlds and as Doug was leaving to head for the racecourse, Keith was wandering around asking Doug if he's seen his boat. Doug had been held up as well and was one the last to leave shore. Keith was still scavenging parts trying to assemble something to race as Doug shoved off. Keith was completely unphased and taking his time. The starting sequence for his race began and he was still on shore. Doug was secretly excited because he actually stood a chance of beating Keith this way. General recall and the sequence starts again and Keith is finally leaving shore. Not only did he just barely make it to the start line on time, he won the race and then the regatta.

Tillerman said...

My best Keith Wilkins story is the night I got a massage from his lady friend. See the postscript on Losing It.

Tillerman said...

Well, in the end the comeback kid didn't come back far enough. In the final 3 races after I wrote this post, Keith scored 10,10,4 to Peter's 3,2,2 and Peter won the Radial Great Grandmaster World Championship by 19 points. Amazing!

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