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Laser Stratos Nationals at Leigh-on-Sea Sailing Club

by Sally Emmerson & Tom Sallis 30 Oct 2003 07:10 GMT 25th-26th October 2003
Action from the Laser Stratos Naitonals © Pippa Cordell /

The weekend over the 25th and 26th of October saw the Laser Stratos National Championships hosted by the Leigh-on-sea sailing club. The competition consisted of eleven entries with crews from as far a field as Dorset and Norfolk and with favourable weather conditions all weekend successful sailing was had by all.

The event certainly emphasised the fact that the Stratos is a family boat as both first and second places were awarded to father and son crews. Thanks to Doug Rivers (LSC) for organising the event and to Laser for sponsoring the prizes.

Alternate Report by Tom Sallis:

The increasingly popular Laser Stratos class contested its third National Championships on the weekend of 25/26th October hosted by Leigh-on-Sea S.C. The fleet was welcomed with excellent sailing conditions that with plentiful wind alongside sunshine.

After a brief practice race that enabled the mixed ability fleet to have a measure of the location and an opportunity to prepare for the racing ahead, Race 1 commenced. A triangular course was set, providing the chance for two long legs of kite-flying downwind for those who dared! After a close start and long beat, Jon Sallis sailing with sons, Tom and Jacob, rounded the windward mark in the lead, closely followed by Doug Rivers, crewed by sons, Chris and Michael, and MikeBeggs, crewed by Amanda Eastwood with Brian George and Ian Vance in a Keel also doing well. The boats at the front of the fleet revelled in the thrilling downwind conditions and were achieving incredible speeds as the breeze had increased slightly; some further back in the fleet decided it was hard enough keeping the dinghy afloat on white sails. Sallis pulled away upwind, however, Rivers was always close on his tail. When Sallis decided not to fly the spinnaker on the tricky final leg thinking his lead was sufficient, Rivers took full advantage and motored across the course resulting in a tense finish where Sallis just managed to hold on. Close behind the front two boats was Michael Beggs, followed soon after by Jim Thomas and Trevor Brown, and Mark West with John James. The boats then headed for the shore exhilarated by the day’s fantastic sail and the tales from the sailing were recalled that evening over more than a few drinks and an excellent curry!

The wind had dropped slightly for day two, with the wind now coming from the north instead of the west. This meant that gusty, shifty conditions were in store enabling big gains to be made in little time throughout the fleet. A reaching start was enforced due to the different wind direction and this produced a spectacular sight for onlookers as they watched the largest collection of Stratos boats at a regatta ever flying their spinnakers in close proximity. Doug Rivers timed the start perfectly, getting away in the lead, although this was short-lived as he was quickly passed by Michael Beggs and Jon Sallis. A tactical tussle developed between these two boats, with Sallis developing a lead upwind that was rapidly shortened on the downwind legs by Beggs and this pattern continued for the remainder of the race. Both boats were extremely close and Sallis took the race by a matter of seconds from Beggs, with Rivers claiming third place. This win meant that Sallis took the cup with a race to spare leaving Rivers and Beggs to fight it out for second place, with both sitting on five points at this time.

In the last race, there were scores to be settled further down in the fleet with more boats taking risks, thus providing spectators with some spectacular capsizes from crews caught out by the harsh gusts. Doug Rivers led again at the first mark with Beggs close behind hassling him for the lead. During the run however, Beggs experienced problems with his spinnaker that led to it trawling in the water, stopping the dinghy immediately. Consequently, a delighted and relieved Rivers consolidated his lead to win by a comfortable margin, landing him 2nd place overall despite Beggs’s heroic efforts to catch up, with Mark West, Jim Thomas and Brian George doing well behind him. Beggs’s excellent results in the prior races enabled him to take the remaining 3rd spot.

The venue was excellent, providing waves big enough to get your Stratos charging down the faces with or without the gennaker up and with legs out to the wing mark so far away you almost needed a compass bearing to find it. The weekend proved to be a resounding success with everybody enjoying the excellent racing and friendly atmosphere. Excellent prizes courtesy of the Class Association and Laser were awarded throughout the fleet, the most memorable going to Alister Beveridge who was deservedly awarded the prize for the most capsizes!

Overall Results:

PosBoat TypeSail NoBoat NameHelmPts
1st Stratos C/B 300 Sky Walker J Sallis 
2nd Stratos C/B 296 Strarosphere D Rivers 
3rd Stratos C/B 161 Red Devil M Beggs 
4th Stratos C/B  Laser Weasel 
5th Stratos C/B 635 4D Signs M West 
6th Stratos C/B 273  J Thomas 
7th Stratos C/B 302 Stratovarios B George 12 
8th Stratos C/B 180 Simply Red S Meadowcroft 14 
9th Stratos C/B 483  A Beverage 19 
10th Stratos C/B 343  M Jezierski 19

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