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Laser 5000 Inland Championships at Rutland Sailing Club

by Thomas Sauvel 24 Oct 2008 09:09 BST 18-19 October 2008

Rutland Water SC held the Laser 4000 and Laser 5000 Inland Championships on 18th and 19th October in tandem with a Laser 2000 ‘Millennium’ event and a Laser Vago Open meeting – the result of which was a lot of dinghies on the water! This included 8 Laser 5000s that had made the effort to get to the venue.

Lulled into a false sense of security, the fleet headed up to the eastern end of the lake where the committee had set up the start line. ‘Army’ was one of the first boats on the water and headed downwind towards the start. It soon became apparent that this was going to be a ‘hair on fire’ event in a fresh to frightening wind! Already at force 4 and building! We past all of the slower boats travelling down with ‘Army be the Best’ spinnaker flying proudly at about 16 – 18 knots!

The first fleet (Laser 2000) was due to start at 1230 hrs, but after 2 false starts, the committee started using the black flag, keeping the boats back off the line until the last few seconds of the start sequence.

9 minutes later, the Laser 5000 fleet started, with ‘Army’ going for a start in the middle of the line. The 5k fleet then split, with half going toward the left of the course, and the remainder, including ‘Army’ going right. This, as it turned out was the best choice and after passing 3 of the fleet and a couple of port/starboard calls with the Thomas, ‘Army’ made it to the top mark in first place – this was a whole new experience!

The boat that made the least mistakes in these winds was going to win the race – there was a line of upturned boats behind us! The downwind legs were incredibly exciting and fast, gybing was a challenging affair and during the first leg, the speed so fast that before we realised it we were well passed the lay line and had to drop the kite for a VERY scary two sail reach to the downwind gate – by this time miles in front of the rest of the fleet – crikey! The race continued in this vane with one small/fast capsize whilst rounding at the downwind gate which we managed to retrieve quickly (we’re getting used to it!). However, with a huge lead – having lapped most of the fleet, we managed a massive, almost pitch pole capsize on the very last downwind leg, at which point the boat turned turtle! The 5K is a huge, heavy dinghy, by the time we had righted the boat, Craig had passed us and the remaining fleet catching fast. After our arm sockets were nearly pulled out whilst hanging off the dagger board, the boat finally came upright and we managed to limp to the finish with the kite around our ankles but we managed it – a 2nd place, fantastic.

Unfortunately, that was more or less it for Army that day. During the first downwind leg of the second race, one of the two spinnaker pole brackets on the bow pulled out of its fittings – tearing a large hole in the kite in the process.

In the 2nd race, Thomas in Ronstan 5231 had a great start on the right of the line and got in the lead right away. Pulling away from the other boats after a blistering kite run and a good gybe. Ronstan reached to bottom mark only to get caught by a gust in the kite drop. This was starting to look like the Beijing medal race with its chain capsizes. We were wondering if it was actually worth hoisting the kite for an actually very short course. Craig took the bullet on that race followed by Nimby/Mark&Nicky.

By the 3rd race, you could see that the muscles were straining from 3 hours on the water with strong gusty winds. Especially since we had all gone out on light wind settings.

So – off to the bar for some grub, beer and our AGM at which discussions were had for next years programme – including some training at Thorney Island! We did all this before the club laid on a quiz night (the prizes for which was lots of chocolate – we needed the ballast for the next day!).

Sunday began with a great, steady force 4, with the first race scheduled for 1030 hrs. We hoped to get two races in out of the 3 before we had to leave for work commitments that night! By the time the race committee had finished laying the course and waiting for everybody from all the fleets to get to the start line it was already 1100 hrs and the wind had increased to the top end of a force 5! In ever increasing hairy conditions, the fleet got off to a good start, with Army once again starting in the middle of the line. By this time however, the old timers – Thomas, Mark and Craig had got their eye in and were off like a shot, Army had a slow start, but managed to pull past Niall at the upwind mark, and once again shot off down wind passing ‘Dog’ Hulls going higher and a lot faster! Eh Hah! We managed to retain 4th place for most 2 of the 3 laps, but a big tactical error (ok, I should have listened to Andy!) resulted in a capsize. The kite was in a mess on the foredeck, which Andy managed to sort, but not before both Dog and Niall passed us. It was now a struggle to catch them both on the upwind leg. We managed to eat up the distance and passed Niall before the mark. Dog was now in 4th with Army in 5th, if only we could get the kite up – we knew we were a lot faster than them downwind. Unfortunately, the kite was so twisted after the capsize that we were unable to hoist it and had a very uncomfortable ride to the finish line, finishing in 5th! In the front group, the tight race continued all the way to the finish line with Ronstan closely followed by Infocube, managed to sneak just in front of Nimby in a furious downwind leg.

The wind was still building to force 6 and the sailing was getting extreme. Three last 5000s braved the wind and started the 2nd race steaming upwind. The racing was quite exhilarating until Infocube had to abandon with rudder problems and Nimby crashed downwind, letting Ronstan 5231 sail on to a final win. Congratulations to Thomas & Alistair on GBR5231 who 1st place to win the overall top place for the 2008 Laser 5000 series.

Well, that concluded the Association events for 2008. The next class meeting will be at Thorney Island in May for a Training Weekend before the racing starts. It’s hoped to hold the Nationals on the NE coast next year to allow some members from both Scotland and the Continent to attend. Who knows we may get up to 20 boats on the start line. The Laser 5000 continues to be a great value boat for the money. It is a very demanding boat but the thrill and joy of powering down the race course, with the kite up in a force 5 is superb. Anybody seeking further information should go to the Laser 5000 Class Association website.

Happy Sailing for 2009.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1st5231Thomas SauvelAlistair FarmanGrafham-332117
2nd5287Craig JohnsonGareth LincolnBlym1132(DNC)7
3rd5249Mark RushtonNicky RushtonGWSC5213(DNC)11
4th5233Richard OwensAndy MountArmy SA2(DNC)DNC5DNC25
5th5301Niall FergusonRobin WilliamsDraycote SC4(DNC)DNC7DNC29
6th5151DogJonathan HullsQueen Mary SC(DNC)DNCDNC4DNC31
7th5113Findlay MacDonaldThomes HillRoyal St George YC/RSC(DNC)DNCDNC6DNC33
8th5269Paul BurnsJohn MorrellGrafham Water(9 DNF)DNCDNC9 DNFDNC36

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