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MS Amlin 2019 - 728x90

Laser Qualifier at Newhaven & Seaford Sailing Club

by Mark Powell (Standard) & Alison Young (Radials) 8 Sep 2009 11:09 BST 5-6 September 2009

Just over a week after the 2009 Senior World Championships were completed in Canada the qualification for next year’s event at Hayling Island began. On Saturday the 54 Standard and 89 Radial helms were greeted by a decent 15 knot Westerly breeze and a significant onshore swell. The first challenge was to get afloat. The entire fleet had to walk ten minutes up the beach to find a more sheltered area closer to the breakwater. It then took a team of four people per boat to lift them over the surf and get the fleet out. It seems appropriate here to say a huge thank you on behalf of the Laser fleet to the club members who valiantly lifted so many Lasers in and out of the water over the weekend!

Standard Fleet

Saturday’s schedule of three races were sailed over the conventional triangle, sausage, triangle course. The swell produced classic south coast conditions and with the wind building slowly through the afternoon it paid to get the laylines right as the tidal flow slackened and then reversed. In the first race Mark Powell’s extra downwind speed enabled him to pull through after Max Holloway had initially led at the first mark. Nick Thompson, Bronze Medal winner in Canada, pulled through to 2nd. Even with a strong weather going tide the fleet got away cleanly in Race 2 and a group of four boats established a clear lead with many of the pack mis-judging the tide and overstanding the mark. The reaches became particularly interesting as the wind over tide conditions increased. Huge gains were made by those that got it right. Powell recorded his 2nd win with Oli Tweddell 2nd & Robert Godwin 3rd. By the start of the day’s final race everyone was feeling tired. Holloway was first to the top mark but Powell again got through on the reaches. Thompson pulled through to 2nd on the next beat leaving Stuart Godwin to take 3rd. Holloway found out later that he had been called OCS.

The excitement was by no means over. The waves were now breaking some 25 metres from the shore and there was some damage to both hulls and spars as helms tried to ‘land’ safely. The efforts of the shore team were heroic.

Sunday morning saw a postponement to allow the breeze to arrive and settle. The first race was started in a patchy SW’ly of 10 kts and again those who got the tide right profited. Thompson led at the top mark, Powell had to fight his way past a few boats for 2nd and these two then established a good lead over the rest. In the final race Powell was ‘black flagged’ but had done enough to win overall. Thompson took his 2nd win of the day ahead of Greg Carey and the Mon brothers, Eifion & Dyfrig, 3rd & 4th.

Radial Fleet

With 89 helms sailing the fleet was divided into four groups and Saturday’s three races were sailed in two flights before the fleet was re-assigned into Alpha & Beta Divisions for Sunday’s final races.

Race 1 - In the first start Andrea Brewster established a winning lead early in the race with Holland’s Marit Bouwmeester 2nd ahead of Scotland’s Charlotte Dobson. The 2nd start was more closely contested with Max Robinson early lead being lost to both Ali Young & Jon Emmett. They were then bested by David Jessop on the next beat before Young recovered to take the gun.

Race 2 - Elliot Hanson led the first flight at the top mark before capsizing at the gybe mark. Jessop & John Booth took up the challenge and became too engrossed in their own world allowing Young to catch up and then take the lead at the end of the final beat as they overstood the lay line. In the 2nd flight Emmett took the win from Brewster and Bouwmeester.

Race 3 - Was a very tiring experience with ‘bodies all aching and racked with pain’ (Old Man River). Flight 1 saw Young record her third win after she had chased down Booth and Bouwmeester, whilst in the 2nd start Emmett won again but Dobson had a real battle with Jack Wetherell for 2nd.

The fleet eventually got afloat at 13:30 on Sunday. In the Gold Fleet Junior Tom Britz, recently back from the Laser 4.7 Worlds in Brasil, built up a good lead on the first lap. Cameron Douglas and Emmett made inroads into his lead but he managed to get to the line ahead of them. In the Silver fleet the two leading boats didn’t realize that the course had been shortened and started up the beat. This gave Ben Robinson his first race win and Ben Dancer to take the runner’s up spot. Ken Falcon, the Race Officer, tried to get a second race underway but after a general recall the cut off time of 1500 passed and no further racing could take place. This meant Young took overall honours with Emmett second and Dobson third.

The next major event in the Laser Calendar is the Sail for Gold regatta at Weymouth next week and then the Series moves along the coast to Eastbourne in three weeks time for the second of the three Qualifiers.

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