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Laser 5000 Nationals at Weston Sailing Club

by Matt Topham 3 Jul 2008 07:42 BST 21-22 June 2008

The Laser 5000 is the forerunner of most of the modern day skiffs that can be seen on the UK sailing scene, including the 49er and RS800. Its weight equalisation system make it accessible to crews across the range of weight and size and the huge power generated by over 50 ms of sail area can give the ride of a lifetime. The challenges this boat presents and the rewards of sailing it well are immense.

With these characteristics in mind, 10 intrepid crews/boats, gathered at Weston Sailing Club near Southampton on Friday 10 June 2008 for the Laser 5000 National Championships, which were being run concurrently with a Skiff Open Event by the Club. This is a noteworthy increase in numbers from the previous 3 years when less than 6 boats were being entered. This is a reflection on the enormous work that the Class Chairman and his committee have put into promoting the class and the incredibly cheap prices of the boats on the second hand market currently. Those that attended were also armed with the knowledge passed onto them from the RYA Top Mark Weekend at Grafham in April run by Peter Barton, a passed Laser 5000 sailor and current RS 800 Nationals and Series Champion.

On Saturday the 21st the fleet were welcomed by the Commodore of Weston Sailing Club and the briefing given by the Race Officer. The first race at the second attempt started at just after mid day in a fresh force 4 to 5 after a general recall. The Race Officer decided that a black flag was required which kept most people away from the line at the start. From the offset it was obvious that the series of races would be headed up by one of 3 boats – Thomas Sauvel in GBR 5231, John Tinnams in GBR 5302 or Mark Rushton in GBR 5249. Thomas got away well for the first race after a particularly confrontational start with the racks of the boat being caught up with those of an RS 800 and lots of strange language being bandied about! He soon showed a great ability to get his boat to travel fast upwind with a great show of how a 5000 should be sailed in such windy conditions.

On the other hand, ‘Army’ (GBR 5233) was doing well until one particularly hairy gybe on the second downwind leg of the first race where the requirement to ensure that the main sheet is released coming out of the manoeuvre was not observed! After about 5 minutes of swallowing some of Southampton Water’s finest salted water and swearing, the boat was upright and back in the fray! However, the lead 3 boat were nothing more than specs in the distance.

After the first race, the ‘Army’ team were in the groove, and the second race was particularly hair raising, but no dent could be made in the lead set by the first 3 boats. John Tinnams in GBR 5302 made a particularly fine start and led the way throughout the race with Thomas coming second and once again Mark Rushton getting 3rd.

With no sign of the wind letting up, the fleet lined up for the final race of the day. After two races already sailed in the upper end of a force 4, arms and legs were beginning to feel the effects of all the huge power of the Laser 5000! Once again, Thomas got away to a bullet and never looked back after a short sharp battle with Mark Rushton during the first lap. John Tinnams lost the pace slightly and had to settle for a 3rd place in this race. ‘Army’ once again sailed a consistent, but slightly slower race than the first 3 and had to settle for 4th place as the first day came to and end.

Sunday loomed large, however, the wind loomed larger, with gusts of over force 7 and the Race Officer made the decision to cancel the days racing, which did not stop a couple of 12 foot skiffs and a Cherup from going out on the water to give an excellent display of sailing in some extreme conditions!

The result of the Race Officers decision meant that the final places of the Saturday were the final results for the Laser 5000 Nationals. All in all, the event was a success with 10 boats from the fleet on the water. Well done to all of those that made the effort to attend the event in what were some testing conditions. The fleet is now in the ascendancy and with luck perhaps over a dozen boats will enter the next Open event at Hayling Island on 27th and 28th of September prior to the Inland Championships in October.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmR1R2R3Pts
15231Thomas Sauvec1214
25302J. Tinnams2136
35249Mark Rushton3429
45233Taff Owens55414
55069Olly Love73515
68Crawford D66618
75301Niall Ferguson411722
85189Adam Rutter9111131

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