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Arnold Metcalf: Laser Racing in his Eighties

There are many who feel their dinghy sailing days are behind them when they reach their 20s. But don’t tell that to Aussie octogenarian Arnold Metcalf.
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There are many who feel their dinghy sailing days are behind them when they reach their 20s. But don’t tell that to Aussie octogenarian Arnold Metcalf.

Born in the UK in 1929, Metcalf later emigrated to Oz, where he bought his first boat in 1966 and began sailing a Laser at the age of 48 on Narrabeen Lagoon near Sydney. He has since made his way through the Adult, Master, Grand Master and Great Grand Master levels, where he still races regularly.

“Lasers are a wonderful class. They cater to all ages. There are few sports where I, at age 84, can compete against teenagers,” Metcalf says. He admits he sometimes wonders if he isn’t “being ambitious each year as I order a new sail,” but adds, “I’ve said that for the last 15 years.”


Arnold Metcalf at the helm of his son’s boat


Peter Seidenberg on his way to victory in Oman

Meanwhile, over in Oman this past winter, it was 76-year-old U.S. sailor Peter Seidenberg who came out on top of a fleet of 38 to win the 2013 Laser Great Grand Masters World Championship.

“This is my ninth championship win, but it is particularly sweet because I have never been able to beat [69-year-old British sailor] Keith Wilkins,” said Seidenberg. “We sailed against each other in the Grand Masters division, and he always beat me. Then I won a few championships when I moved up to the Great Grand Masters, but when he joined too, the game was over for me, so today I was able to take revenge.”

May their bitter rivalry continue for years to come!

Are you still sailing into your 70s and 80s? Do you know anyone who is? SAIL wants to hear from you! Email us at Sailmail@sailmagazine.com

Photos courtesy of Alastair Metcalf (top and above left);

courtesy of Oman Sail(above right); 

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