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Laser 5000 Open Meeting at Loch Lomond Sailing Club

by Taff Owens 6 Sep 2011 11:28 BST 3-4 September 2011
Laser 5000 open meeting sponsored by Glengoyne Distillery © Alister Kinsman

Once again, the Laser 5000 Association came together to hold an Open Meeting at the stunning venue of Loch Lomond as part of the Loch Lomond Dinghy Weekend (Sponsored by Glengoyne Distillery), with the results counting towards the Laser 5000 Travellers’ Series.

The club did a sterling job, with over 103 dinghies entering into a very tight fought and tactical weekend’s racing, with two courses for fast handicap and slow handicap fleets, which where once again split down to the various competitions.

Of the Laser 5000 fleet, entries made the effort to drive up from as far as Plymouth, Poole, the Midlands, North Wales, Cambridgeshire, Pembrokeshire and of course Scotland and all were made welcome on the Friday evening by Paddy, the Club barman, Lasagne Cook and Laser 5000 sailor (is that wise making him the barman!?). Boats were assembled, lasagne eaten and beer quaffed on the Friday evening before the rain arrived and the wind disappeard! (Note to self – check tent for leaks before you leave for an event nearly 400 miles away!). The highlight of the weekend for me was seeing GBR 5000 – the original production Laser 5000 once again on the water after a lot of very hard work by Ben Julian and she looked in a great condition considering the state she had been in some 3 months earlier.

So, Saturday morning presented itself as wet with not much wind; however as the morning progressed and we got into our wetsuits, the clouds began to break and the wind built. At ¾ of an hour before the start, the wind was such that heavy settings were applied and a screaming two sail reach to the start area was much enjoyed! Oh, what a mistake, that was the most of the wind throughout the weekend and it slowly subsided to around a very fluky and hard to read force 2 to 3 at best. However, the Race Officer did a sterling job to lay a course in an ever shifting wind and the races got underway.

It soon became apparent that Mark and Susie in GBR 5300 had lost none of the boat speed that they demonstrated at Poole in the early part of the year and soon got off to a striking lead, with Alister and Paddy in GBR 5307 chasing hard. Indeed, these two boats held pretty much the same position for most of the racing, with most of the change of positions being made mid fleet. There were some interesting tussles between Mark and Nicky in GBR 5246 (Nimby) and Ben and Chris in 5000 showing that the older boats remain as competitive as the higher sail numbers. Taff and Ade GBR 5233 (Army), Alan and Alister in GBR 5235 and Paul and Ed in GBR 5269 (Shaken not Stirred) were having a great battles for the mid fleet positions with GBR 5235 getting the slightly better in the light conditions and Army struggling to maintain boat speed – until an almighty gust came down the course! Army managed to capitalise on the wind and held a very tight reach to the downwind mark and on upwind before the wind died again to take a very lucky 3rd place behind Mark/Susie and Alister/Paddy, with a trail of other boats wondering what had just happened and why the metal wasn’t in the sky anymore!

The shifting and testing wind conditions became the order of the day, with the Race Officer having to change the course each time between races and those that had applied heavy weather settings at the start of the day began to seriously regret that decision with some boats taking a chance and changing the rig settings on the water. Not a move for the feint hearted! However, the dye had been cast, Mark/Susie and Alister/Paddy were showing the rest of the fleet a clean pair if heels and gave brilliant demonstrations of how to keep the boat going in the right direction with speed in the lightest of conditions.

So, after 3 races, it was back to the club for some more beer, fine tales and good food and some stunning views of the Loch and the surrounding hills.

Sunday appeared, but the wind didn’t and in even less wind than the day before, the fleet set off for the race area and the Race Officer decided that there was sufficient (and more consistent) wind to start Race 4.

Now, in light airs, within 30 seconds of the gun, with boats all around and not going fast, it’s never a good idea to gybe away from other boats and expect to be able to accelerate across the line with backed battens, but I tried! Stopping, watching the rest of the fleet get away to a clean start and still being on the wrong side of the line half way through the next fleet’s start sequence is never a good idea and after having a word with myself (with the crew piping in), GBR 5233 managed to get going again! Typically, Mark/Susie were about rounding the upwind mark by this stage, with Ben/Chris (GBR 5000) showing brilliant boat speed in the light conditions not far behind and in real competition with Alister and Paddy, good for them! Alan and Ed in GBR 5196, being quite new to 5000 sailing had just got the hang of making sure that Ed (the crew) was staying well forward in front of the mast, great. What came as a surprise to Alan was that when some wind did come through and Ed not easily able to ‘spring’ out onto the wire that the boat would go from underneath him and so they decided to wash the sails! Still, another lesson learnt. Thankfully, Alan/Alister (GBR 5235) also decided to hang the washing out with a rather tied up kite, which allowed Taff/Ade to squeeze through to take 6th position, which was a real bonus and not expected.

Time for the 5th race of the series and this time, the whole fleet managed to cross the line in reasonable competition with each other and once again, GBR 5000 getting a brilliant start and were doing well up the windward leg, with GBR 5300 slowly reeling them in. As the last boats in the fleet managed to get around the upwind mark, the last of the wind gave up! Kites that had been flying were now a hindrance as they trailed in the water and were soon put away one by one. The RO shortened course at the downwind mark and it was now a test of who could drift the fastest. The leading two boats – Mark/Susie and Ben/Chris were almost within touching distance of each other as they passed the mark and finished with Alister/Paddy not far behind. However, there was a large gap to the next 3 boats – Mark/Nicky, Alan/Alister and Taff/Ade with Paul/Ed behind them and Alan/Ed only halfway down the leg. Somehow, Army (GBR 5233) managed to get the smallest zephyr of wind to gain sufficient momentum to carry past both boats in front to take 4th.

There was no point in trying to run a 6th race and the Race Officer called it a day and we all headed off to the club in the most stunning scenery. Despite the light and fickle winds, the weekend was a great success. The fleet had made the effort to travel a long way to get there, GBR 5000 is back on the water racing, some great Malt Whiskey prizes for the top 5 (thank heavens for that zephyr of wind!) provided by the Glengoyne Distillary, some great hosts and good banter and more boats on the water show that the Laser 5000 fleet is still a force to be reckoned with!

Final placing’s were:

1st Mark and Susie, 5300
2nd Alister and Paddy, 5307
3rd Mark and Nicki, 5249
4th Alan and Alastair, 5235
5th Taff and Ade, 5233
6th Ben and Chris, 5000
7th Paul and Ed, 5269
8th Alan and Ed, 5196

That means that the travellers’ series now looks like:

1 5307, 9 Points
2 5233, 10 Points
3 5300, 11 Points
4 5249, 13 Points
5 5231, 14 Points
6 5235, 19 Points
=6 5248, 19 Points
=6 5269, 19 Points
7 5000, 21 Points
=8 5035, 22 Points
=8 5113, 22 Points
=8 5196, 22 Points

The final event to count towards this series is the Inland Championships at Rutland Water SC on 15th and 16th October. I hope to see you all there.

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