Our new class captain Graham Ireland has spent the winter, with up to 4 of the keenest other members of the class, racing in the windiest frostbite series at Alton water that has ever been recorded. Results have been mixed but in the end although our en masse assault on the series failed to secure top spot we filled the next 3 places. Well done to the young guns Ashley Deaton, Harry Wallhead and the old codger Graham for 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively. Broken spars twice prevented Alex Davey from getting into the to positions although he showed race winning form to beat the eventual winner a couple of times when his boat stayed intact.
The home winter series was also very windy and became a real survival series as well, where the most persistent gradually gravitated to the top although being an all in handicap the Lasers did not quite make top spot.
The Boxing day open meeting was another very windy day and attracted a couple of visitors.
The notable attendees were Graham, Ashley, Patrick Cooney from Waldringfield and Rich Williams. All except Rich sailing radials and after about a lap the radials were still level pegging with Rich. Rich had taken a swim upwind and Patrick had made huge gains on the left of a beat to no7. The race then became a steady grind into an ever increasing wind with some fairly violent gusts at times. Rich finally began to make the standard rig size pay and was moving away but possibly not far enough to hold handicap. Behind him the radial pack was being led by Ashley with his newer boat with Graham and Patrick swapping places every now and again. Graham was making progress each lap with a leeward attack down the run from about ODM to the special gybe mark and that was local knowledge of the wind lane that was very evident with the prevailing wind direction on the day. Coming to the last gybe mark there was a particularly vicious gust tracking down the run which looked like it might hit just as the 3 of us would be gybing. Ashley was first up just as the gust hit and fell straight in with a violent splash. Graham followed and lost control ending up tacking round once he could regain some control. Patrick roared in hoping to upstage us both only to nearly make the gybe and just tip over to leeward of the mark as Graham bore off to round having executed his tack. Patrick was very quick to right and set off in pursuit. Graham’s rounding of the last mark onto the final beat could have been a lot better and Patrick took full advantage to tack quickly to leeward. So now both competitors were dead level on starboard heading for the line with Graham to windward closer to the committee boat. At about twenty yards to the line Patrick was arguably leading but another gust filled in to windward of Graham and lifted him by about 2 or 3 degrees and he was just able to hear Gordon note that he had won by about a foot. So a very close finish with Ashley finally getting up and finishing.
Attention now turns to the new season, we have our spring series starting on April 10th then the Wednesday evening series starting on April 27th. In the event that the bulk of the fleet were to turn out together there would be competition on a truly open meeting scale were success would require nearly championship standard skills to win. This could be the most exciting season for many years as the young guns finally challenge the old codgers, if they turn out often enough to stop the more persistent competitors from taking advantage of absence to get winning results on the board.
Laser Sailing at the RHYC:
The Laser fleet is the largest dinghy fleet at the RHYC (over 30) and is made up an eclectic group of individuals. We have sailors from all ages and sizes, reflecting the Laser national squad training fleets, with Grand Masters, Masters, Radials and increasing numbers of 4.7s.
We sail nearly every Sunday and Wednesday evening during April to December, racing in our own class with our own start. In 2015 our fleet grew with both adults and juniors joining in with the regular competition in the fleet. The Laser open for 2016 will be held on Saturday 1st October and we’re aiming to attract as many sailors from the East Coast as possible to this event! It will be the final event in the 'Three Rivers Laser Series', following behind Aldeburgh and Waldringfield. More details soon!
There are ongoing discussions about a “buddy” system which is hoped to run as an ad hoc race day pairing of the top end of the fleet with those from lower down so that pre race briefing and post race analysis can be done with a view to identifying and correcting the errors that cause the lower sailors to lose touch with the top end. I find that quite often when those from the lower end are close to and competing directly with the top sailors they do sail a lot better by virtue of having an immediate role model to copy. Imitation maybe a sincere form of flattery but it is also the quickest way to learn the right things to do to win races.
We are a friendly fleet and plan to have some socials and training during the season as we are very keen to give everyone an opportunity to increase their sailing ability, eat and drink amongst a group of fellow club sailors.
If you have any questions or want to get involved with the Laser fleet, do not hesitate to get in contact!
See you on the lawn!