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Laser Pico Nationals at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club

by Mike Thomason 9 Jul 2009 09:29 BST 4-5 July 2009

The 2009 Laser Pico National Championship was held at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club over the weekend of 4th and 5th July.

Light conditions greeted the 56 competitors over this 2 day event with helm ages ranging from 9 to 59 and with the youngest crew age 4.

This is the second year Thorpe Bay has hosted this successful event with a strong turnout of enthusiastic youngsters and adults from across the UK sponsored by LaserPerformance and Westway Travel.

Competitors were held back on shore by beach masters Garry Ellis and Scott Weller in basking sunshine on the Saturday morning watching a very quiet and flat Thames flood. True to form the sea breeze kicked in over an hour and a half later and professional race officer Alan Willis gave the go signal to release the eager competitors.

The first of the three scheduled races started cleanly in 5 knots of breeze on the last of the flood tide with Robbie Southwell (Gurnard) quick off the line closely followed by Tom Endacott (Shropshire) and Alex Farrall (TBYC) in hot pursuit. Alex and Robbie demonstrated their fast downwind speed with several position changes over the traditional triangle / sausage course. Alex pulled into the lead on the final beat to record his first win with Robbie second and local talent Chris Clarke third.

The second race was called back after a general recall as the Thames ebb pushed a third of the fleet over the line. Bob Binnedijk (TBYC) made a flying start and led the fleet to the finish ahead of Alex Farrall, Robbie Southwell and Tom Endacott.

With the tide fast disappearing, Alan Willis raised the black flag to ensure the last race was completed before the committee boat grounded on the Thames mud flats. Robbie Southwell took the gun from Alex Hadley closely followed by Alex Warrington / Teddy Elmore (TBYC) in third and Alex Farrall in fourth a second ahead of Jonny Snow (TBYC) in fifth. A brisk dash back to the beach with raised dagger boards followed with the BBQ prepared by the club’s in house caterers.

The overnight position after one discard saw Robbie and Alex tied on 3 points each with Robbie taking the top slot on count back..

Cyclonic light winds on Sunday was a testing time for the race officers and support boats.

Race 4 got underway on schedule with Ben Green (Gurnard) coming back on form (4th in 2008) to stay up with the front pack of Alex and Robbie. Several wind shifts saw the leaders taking opposite sides of the beat with Alex coming out a clear winner to take his second win of the championships on equal points with Robbie.

The course was re laid three times for the start of race 5 in a fading breeze. 45 minutes after the start, with competitors making little headway into the fast ebb the race was abandoned.

The final race started an hour later in very light but manageable winds. Chris Clarke took a comfortable lead off the line showing his true race form to lead to the finish with Alex Farrall second, Jack Sharland third and Ben Green fourth. Robbie Southwell was caught in the ebb and was knocked down to 31st.

Alex Farrall was declared the Laser Pico 2009 National champion as well as winning the top place under 15 trophy.

The Designers Trophy was awarded to Chris Clarke / Maddie Shields for first adult / cadet combination and the Isle of Wight Trophy for a combined under 21 to Alex Warrington and Teddy Elmore.

Our special thanks to Simon Ogden and Dan from LaserPerformance in presenting a brand new Pico to a delighted Molly in the prize draw as well as numerous other prizes of race sails.

Our thanks to Shaun Christian and Simon Bown for organising this fantastic event, Race Officers Alan and Sally Willis supported by Linda, Lisa, Will and Sue.. Also to Tony Clarke and crews for their ever presence and commitment in running the support boats together with Nick, Steve and Martyn for providing their own ribs and a final thank you to all the competitors who took part.

The Laser Pico has and will continue to be the preferred junior and adult sail training boat at Thorpe Bay with 63 Picos now sailed and raced on a regular basis. The Pico has undoubtedly been the inspiration and reason why Thorpe Bay Yacht Club continues to thrive and the Pico has done more for youth and family sailing than any other boat in the clubs history.

Overall Results: (top ten)

1Alex Farrall-TBYC12-4126
2Robbie Southwell-Gurnard2312-318
3Chris ClarkeMaddie ShieldsTBYC35.5-73112.5
4Bob Binnedijk-TBYC8184-4221
5Bruce SprattPeter SnowTBYC6-1997628
6Jonathon Snow-TBYC7-959728
7Tom Endacott-Shropshire44-19.551528
8Charlie MetcalfTom MetcalfTBYC513681332
9Alex WarringtonTeddy ElmoreTBYC-2283111133
10Alex Hadley-TBYC12102-141034

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