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Laser Open at Maidenhead Sailing Club

by JL Heward-Craig on 11 Oct 7 October 2017

Low water levels, late-season weed, and the forecast of wind speeds of 14 gusting 31 did not deter twenty sailors from around the Thames Valley taking to Summerleaze Lake in Maidenhead Sailing Club's annual Laser Open. Nine visitors joined eleven local sailors to make up the two racing fleets – Standard and Radial – and the standard of competition was high.

The first race of the day, and the weather, while cool, was fairly gentle, with a Force 2-3 south-westerly. All the racers got away cleanly, with Adam Meekings (Maidenhead) leading by the first mark. He continued to lead the race until the third lap, when Chris Nash (Maidenhead) passed him on the last downwind leg to take the first race. Sasha Mayhew (Maidenhead) rounded off an MSC triple by coming third. In the Radial fleet, Alison Stevens (SESCA) lead from the front and was never headed, while the battle for second between Leila Moore (Docklands) and Mark Fowler (Littleton) was won by Moore.

After lunch, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Some boats found staying upright at the windward marks much harder, but his capsize at the first mark didn't prevent Gary Bullock (Maidenhead) from coming from the back of the fleet to a very close second in the second race, just failing to pass Rob Beere (FPSC) who took first, but well ahead of third-placed Colin Carver (Aldenham).

In the Radial fleet race, Moore was ahead by the end of the first lap and finished in that position. Second throughout the race was Fowler, while the tussle for third between Stevens and Paul Barnes (Maidenhead) was resolved by Stevens sailing away from Barnes on the last leg.

By the third race, the wind had increased to Force 4-5, and the balaclavas were on. Mayhew won a tight start, and by the end of the first lap was in the lead, followed well back by Meekings, Beere and Dave Killey (Maidenhead). His lead was gradually cut by Meekings, who passed him on the reach on the second lap. Mayhew continued to harass him throughout the rest of the race, staying close on Meekings stern but, in the end, not able to pass, leaving Meekings to take line honours. Beere came in a close third.

Drama attended the end of the third Radial race. Natalya Williams (Datchet Water), despite being in second for most of the race, caught a good wind and passed Stevens, gaining a comfortable first. Stevens and Moore, competing vigorously for the minor placings, rounded the last mark, with Moore attempting to steal an inside line around the mark. Both boats collided. Stevens continued sailing for the line, while Moore immediately protested and did a 360 for hitting the mark. After the protest went before committee, the result was in favour of Stevens – leaving her in second, and giving Fowler third.

So there it was: two fleets, 3 races, 6 different winners.

After points were calculated, Meekings took out championship honours, only one point ahead of Beere, and two points ahead of third place Nash. The Radial fleet results were much closer: with two sailors on equal points for first place and two for third, it came down to finishes; and with their better finishes, Stevens and Williams gained the honours. This gave the results as Stevens first, Moore second, and Williams third overall.

Despite being concentrated in the Radial fleet, it was good to see women made up 25% of competitors on the water. This doesn't happen often. And competitive juniors! Next year should be just as exciting – but with hopefully less weed!

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubR1R2R3Pts
Standard Rig
1st181358Adam MeekingsMaidenhead2‑413
2nd209411Rob BeereFPSC‑4134
3rd210356Chris NashMaidenhead1‑645
4th192530Sacha MayhewMaidenhead3‑825
5th189402Gary BullockMaidenhead62(DNF)8
6th209002Colin CarverAldenham53‑78
7th210360Dave KilleyMaidenhead‑95611
8th164566Darren HeslinBroxbourne7‑10512
9th75075Graham ReeceBroadwater‑87815
10th72222Chris Ryder RichardsonMaidenhead‑109918
11th142884John SweeneyMaidenhead(DNF)111021
12th118148Jacob BurfieldLittleton1112(DNF)23
13th189093Thomas WeekesMaidenhead(DNF)DNCDNC28
Radial Rig
1st177861Alison StevensSESCA1‑323
2nd202543Leila MooreDocklands21(RAF)3
3rd211322Natalya WilliamsDatchet Water4‑515
4th176285Mark FowlerLittleton‑3235
5th2011Paul BarnesMaidenhead‑5448
6thGBRJoanne BarnesMaidenhead‑66511
7th154738Emily LewinMaidenhead(DNF)7613
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