Harken UK Laser Nationals at South Caernarvonshire Yacht Club
The final two days of the week were in some ways the easiest. The wind swung from Southwest to Northwest and remained steady and the sun came out. The Radial fleet completed their full qualifying series on Wednesday and raced in Gold & Silver divisions for the final two days.
In the Standard fleet overall leader, Alex Mills-Barton, having had a relatively poor day on Wednesday when he was 10th & 2nd returned to the front of the fleet on Thursday with a 3rd behind James Gray & Martin Evans in the morning and had a win in the afternoon giving him a commanding lead going into the final day’s races. The remaining two podium positions were between Jack Wetherell, James Gray & Martin Evans. On Friday morning the wind was variable in strength and by the time that the committee boat had managed to set a fair course there was only time for one race before the 1400 cut off. This was won by Alex giving him an overall score line of seven wins and two 2nds. He won the Holstein Trophy as Open Champion and the Dunhill Spike as National Champion.
In the Radial Gold Fleet Hannah Snellgrove and Jack Preece had counted nothing but 1sts & 2nds from their qualifying series and held a narrow lead over Chloe Martin, who had also sailed extremely consistently throughout the first four days. It was these three, together with Christopher Eames, who dominated the final two days. Hannah won both of Thursday’s races, in the best conditions of the week, with the others close behind. The only interruption was when Edward Jones managed 3rd place in the afternoon and Chloe sailed a ‘poor’ race to discard her 13th place. In Friday’s only race Kieran Hill, who had started the week well but then had a couple of poor placings, finished in the best possible fashion by taking the final gun ahead of Hannah and Ireland’s Darragh O’Sullivan.
As always in the Silver Fleet the picture was less clear going into the final series. Matt Whitfield would probably have made the Gold Fleet but for a couple of premature starts. He started the final series well but had to take a penalty in the first race on Thursday, which dropped him to 6th. He recovered well in the afternoon to take the gun. Meg Backhouse, Ross Sullivan and Megan Adams all finished in the top 5 on Thursday to challenge for the overall title. It was Meg Backhouse who won Friday’s only race ahead of Suzanna Flannigan and Matt Whitfield. However the overall title went to Megan O’Brien, who had sailed very consistent through the qualifying series and then scored 6, 6, 4 in the finals.
Several of the younger helms had strung together good results in the Laser 4.7 fleet without being able to dominate the rest of the fleet. So going into the last two days there was no clear leader. With Monday’s second race having been discarded the near perfect weather on Thursday was an ideal opportunity for the fleet to catch up. After their two scheduled races the fleet was held afloat and a third race was sailed. Ireland’s junior helm Aisling Keller stole the limelight by winning all three races. That improved her overall position immensely and put increasing pressure on the helms above her. Friday’s lighter conditions resulted in the front runners having a relatively poor day and gave race wins to Jack Rockett (no puns please) and Caitlin Tweedle. Ireland’s Conor O’Beirne used both his discards on Friday to record an overall series win using all Top 10 scores. Aisling finished 3rd behind Will Creavan.
A full report on the week, together with all the prize winners, will be published in the next digital issue of the GYBE magazine, due to be published shortly in late August.
The Association would like to thank everyone at South Caernarvonshire Y.C. for all their hard work. Also the support from Harken UK as Title sponsors was greatly appreciated, as were the donated sails from LaserPerformance (Europe) and the continuing support from Noble Marine.
The eyes of all UK Laser sailors now turn to Weymouth and next week’s Olympics. Our very best wishes go to defending champion Paul Goodison (Standards) and Alison Young (Radials) at her first Olympics.
Full results can be found on the UKLA website.