Laser class spring series report
Exciting times this season for the Laser class. Many new members of the fleet including at least 3 youths. These newcomers do look like the real deal and the older members of the fleet are going to have to up their game quite a bit to compete.
Turnouts have generally been into double digits or very nearly except on the really horrible day. The first two races sailed in a NW 2-4 showed the value of brutal winter training at the Alton frostbite series. James Deaton took 1st and 2nd, Graham Ireland came in with two 3rds and Josh Richardson ran away with the 2nd race. Will Finch showed that a more comfortable approach to winter training in a gym can yield nearly similar dividends with 2nd and 4th.
After the first weekend there was a gap for the short sharp series round one. Here James Deaton really showcased his starting skills, honed on the Topper training squads and championships. In a light easterly he took bullets in 4 out of 6 races. Graham ran out 2nd and now really understands the scale of the challenge from our youth members.
The 2nd spring series race day was a very cold wet affair with only 3 out racing, Simon Ruffles showed the way round with Graham 2nd and Tim Power bringing up the rear and retiring from the second race.
With improved weather for the 3rd day of the series the bulk of the fleet returned. A turnout of 10 finally reached the double figure level that has been a target for a number of years. Simon & James D shared the spoils equally with Graham just behind. A lovely day for racing quite a bit of north westerly wind and sunshine, Graham ran away with the first race and Simon the second, James “Mr consistent” D got two 2nds.
The 4th Sunday of the series produced real champagne sailing and more double digit turnout. Those who missed this missed a real gem. Racing in a light up river wind the course was again one that gave Graham's local knowledge a chance to get him to the front of the fleet, albeit briefly. This day introduced us to a new young helm who like James D. seems to have missed my memo from last year (that I have a devine right to win every race), James Russell turned out in his dads boat with a 4.7 rig. In the standards Graham led and after giving Jeremy Halfhide course directions not once but twice then proceeded to overlay the weather mark on the 2nd lap allowing Jeremy to pounce, and whilst keeping his boat in one piece (just) he took 2nd place to James R, who had not really been noticed coming up fast in the middle of the fleet. James D. also beat Graham but by just one second on handicap and 6 seconds behind Jeremy. So some extremely close racing and further notice from our younger members that they are a force to be reckoned with. Race 8 gave us a battle royal to watch between the two younger members who duly came 1st and 2nd with James D getting the bullet by just 19 seconds from James R. Dave Sheppard finally got his act together to take 3rd. We are now selling tickets for the ultimate race that will probably define the future of Laser racing at RHYC between James R. and James D. in a steady force 4 and both sailing 4.7 rigged boats. I will hopefully have a ringside seat for this one in the near future. If you have a Laser then you too could be there for the big showdown, all you have to do is turnout for every race and wait for the right conditions and both our up and coming stars to turnout as well. This really is worth waiting for.
The last Sunday of the series was a light weather day where the wind did one of it's summer tricks of shifting right by over 90 degrees. Due to a starting mix up Graham was able to get a jump on the fleet and run away with race 9. In race 10 another 1st time attendee this year showed that he has forgotten nothing about going fast in light airs. Having got the start sorted Peter Richardson ran away with the race leading from start to finish as Graham fought through from mid fleet to take 2nd. Will Finch helped by trying too hard down the run from the start to the first mark, capsizing by overdoing the heel to windward, a lot.
In the absence of James D who was taking part in the Topper open meeting Graham sneaked the series again but this time by the very narrowest of margins, and even had to check the rules to ensure that Sailwave really had got the right result. In the end with both James D & Graham on 2 wins three 2nds and a 3rd to count the result was decided on a last race countback and because James was in the Topper open he missed the chance.
Written: Graham Ireland
Laser Sailing at 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 2017 will be held on Saturday 7th 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!
Graham Ireland, Laser Class Captain