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Laser 5000 Inlands at Grafham Water Sailing Club

by Niall Ferguson 9 Nov 2009 14:11 GMT 24-25 October 2009

The weekend of the Laser 5000 Inland Championships dawned with a good Saturday morning breeze and a promising forecast to build for the day.

Numerous teams made the trip to Rutland from Grafham, Draycote and Queen Mary. After a busy morning rigging up with the Laser 2000s, 4000s and Vagos, the fleet made their way to the course, testing spinnakers as they went.

The 5000s started first and with GBR5113 trailing behind after a missed start the fleet got settled in to an upwind leg. The course was an outside sausage for the 5000’s and Mark and Nicky in 5249 led the pack for the first reach across with the last boat of the pack no more than 20 seconds behind. Some boats opted to go high to pop the kite early while others went straight for the mark and watch what happened. Turned out the reach mark was within kiting distance so all boats went for the hoist before the top mark. However Paul and John in 5269 managed to give their kite a wash and the whole boat followed as their hoist wasn’t as successful. As Mark and Nicky of 5249 came to the bottom gate, confusion led to a protest being launched from the chasing Radii 5301 Niall and Matt on the grounds that Mark had sailed up through the gate not round the ends. This protest led to a disqualification and the rest of the race ran it’s course with most boats getting a feel for the course and not becoming too risky in their decisions.

The second race saw Niall Ferguson in 5301 leading the pack t the first mark followed by Mark and Nicky in 5249 and Tom and Mike 5113, who managed to start on time, then John and Dog in 5151. Tom and Mike elected to play it safe for the reach and observed as Mark and Nicky launched the kite and jet off into a comfortable lead, leaving the crews of 5113 and 5151 desperately getting their kites up to stay with the pack. However a capsize at the bottom mark by 5249 meant they slipped down to fourth and with Niall and Matt in 5301 finding extra speed to the right of the course downwind, their lead was extended. The positions were consolidated for the rest of the race, with Niall and Matt taking line honours, Tom and Mike holding Dog and John off for second and third respectively.

With all teams tiring from the fresh breeze, the final race was a last push as the teams all lined up for the start. Tom and Mike were just ahead off the line and chose to go for the clear air to their right, only to be mixed up with some 2000s. All the other teams tacked into their own clear air with Mark and Nicky coming for the left challenging Tom and Mike from the right for the top mark. Tom and Mike rounded first but some quick hands from Nicky saw 5249 kiting over the top of 5113. John and Dog managed to keep up but a late drop meant they remained in third for the rest of the race. Mark and Nicky got round the final top mark just before the bedlam of the 4000 fleet to secure their only first place for the day.

With a disqualification and a fourth, Mark and Nicky knew they would have to step up their game and dominate the course on the Sunday to be in with a chance of winning. Niall and Matt in Radii 5301 and new team Tom and Mike in 5113 were sharing the top spot and most other teams were still in with a shout overnight, meaning everything was to play for on the Sunday.

After a postponement to wait for the wind to fill in, the fleet took to the water hoping for extra breeze to come in. By the time of the start, the breeze had built to twin wiring conditions.

The fourth race started with all six competitors reaching on the line heading up as the gun went. A decision had to be made between the lighter clean air to the left and the shifty stronger breeze to the right. The whole fleet went their own ways, but still converging on the windward mark close together. With the lead pack of 5249, 5231 and 5151 reaching away, Tom and Mike of 5113 chose to try the kite to gain some ground, only to discover the reach was too tight. So as quick as it came up, crew Mike ‘bagged and tagged’ the kite away and they rejoined the back of the fleet chasing desperately for some ground, at the finish 5249 took the bullet, 5151 a keen 2nd and a hungover team on 5301 gifted 3rd to Paul and John in 5269, after having to go back a leg having missed the final spreader mark; a salient lesson not to get involved in drinking rounds with Niall!

After a long wait to move the course, the fleet started the second race of the day, again with all 6 boats screaming down the line before the gun. The breeze had built for this second race, and helms found themselves sheeting out in some of the gusts. The fleet got to the top mark with some shifty winds making the layline hard to judge and patchy gusts making it luck for the reach across to the kite hoist. Some gusts were too much Thomas and Dave of 5231 who capsized just after the bear away and fought to get it back up to stay in touch with the pack. Clean hoists from all the boats saw everyone getting to the bottom mark the right way up but decisions for gybes meant the fleet split at the bottom gate, 5249 ‘Nimby’ leading the fleet on the right. The wind was building again and an uncoordinated tack saw crew John of 5269 in the water and Paul unable to prevent a capsize. The fleet spread out further when Tom and Mike of 5113 started trawling for Rutland Trout after their kite wouldn’t stay up. Another clean race from 5249 ‘Nimby’ saw Mark and Nicky retain their lead all the way round the course and take their 2nd bullet of the day.

For the final race of the weekend, the fleet got off well, all going for boat speed to the left. Niall and Matt underestimated the wind shadow of the Rutland Water Tower and proffered a comical capsize. Then Tom and Mike forgetting the course on the second upwind leg, meant the fleet split in two. Mark and Nicky were comfortably leading the main pack, Thomas and Dave getting a good race in and Dog and John in their usual consistent placing. Knowing that Mark and Nicky could win this event with another top spot placing, Niall and Matt fought to gain extra places downwind sailing over the top of Tom and Mike despite their efforts to head them up. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough laps in this race for them to climb above 5th. With Mark and Nicky commanding proceedings and another first, the Inland title slipped away from 5301 into 5249 Mark and Nicky’s well deserved hands.

The weekend’s racing was tight and interesting for the whole fleet, with lead changing almost constant for the whole weekend. A good final event for the year as the class looks forward to the busy schedule of racing and training next year, and also a good showcase for the European trip to Mohnesee next year. For all of you 5000 owners or those interested in joining the Association you can get more information at

Overall Results:

PosSail NoHelmCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6Pts
1st5249Mark RushtonNicky RushtonGrafham Water SC(DSQ)411118
2nd5301Niall FergusonMatt IsherwoodDraycote Water SC11443-513
3rd5151DogJonathan HullsQMS-33322313
4th5113Tom HillMichael AndrewRutland Sailing Club22254-615
5th5269Paul BurnsJohn MorrellGrafham Water SC4-5535421
6th5231Thomas SauvelDave Turner (DNC)DNCDNC66228

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