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RC Laser European Championship at Bad Zwischenahn, Northern Germany

by Tony Wilson 17 Aug 2018 06:21 BST 10-13 August 2018
RC Laser European Championship at Bad Zwischenahn, Northern Germany © Geoff Curtis

Bad Zwischenahn in Northern Germany was the location for nations to gather together to compete in the quarter scale RC Laser European Championship.

The sailing club, being a great venue, was at the end of a busy sailing schedule that had also included three other classes of boat, although full size sailing dinghies, had already erected a massive marque tent, along with additional shower facility blocks and the availability for camping and motorhome parking. The fresh water lake being the third greatest in size is also a great place for nature walks and caters as one of the favourites for health and beauty recovery.

Although we had been allotted four days for the event, Friday was reserved for practice along with time set aside for registration and measuring. Hulls were quickly checked over, sails and booms were stamped accordingly once they passed approval. 6pm arrived and we were given a warm welcome and later invited to a free drink back over in the bar. Cornels Latsch was Race Officer for the entire event and his daughter Sarah, kindly acted as translator and did an excellent job in remembering lengthy discussions to all our amazement.

It was good to see some familiar colleagues from previous race days and by now some had become good friends. Stefan Gote was telling me that he and a few other locals do well in the German league but feared some of the visitors were far better. A few French and a couple of others were absent due to delayed flights, illness or other problems. We had 27 by the start time which would mean a two flight race system.

On to Saturday and the intention was to sail 12 or 14 heats for the entire event, while some may have misunderstood and thought it was for just the day. A relaxed slow start and names had been drawn out of the hat to compile two lists of competitors from the previous evening along with their welcomed free gift of a nice lovely embossed T shirt to celebrate the occasion. Plenty of wind led to Brits winning the first race by a great margin while others were being hammered in the wash of waves. The second flight of the first race saw two Dutch sailors in first and second place.

Throughout the morning we had seen a flurry of Lifeboats entering the water by the club boat hoist and jetty. This was for no emergency but was backup for the yearly cross lake 3.2 km Open Water swim. It didn't look as easy as it could have been for the 400 entrants as it was against a strong head wind.

The second race for the two flights went ahead and we were informed that the first race had no scores and was just a practise race. Some confusion or just a loss in translation to what we were accustomed too. After this race we had a long break as one person thinking he was in a different flight hadn't arrived to the start line and again this had brought upon us another issue. It was now lunch time and had we really sailed only two races? No, because the second which we thought must now be the seeding race had caused more confusion as skippers were given scores that didn't really match their previous performance.

Back to plan A, and from the first race we were now awarded points and the second was scratched. One heavy shower after another caused many delays throughout the day along with the changing directions of wind. On to now the official race two and a good handful of competitors had misunderstood or forgotten a third lap. This was solved eventually and amicably with a few DNF being awarded and we finished the first day of racing with an excellent meal that had been laid on for us in the restaurant.

Dave F. was one of the guilty parties along with Alex C. our new British Rookie just following his Master - forgetting lap numbers is easily done. Alex was telling me this was only his sixth official Laser race day and he didn't seem to be phased by the overall magnitude of the competition. We see great scope for him but he now had this massive hit of a fleet plus one score to munch on, along with Dave at the end of the two races and first day completed.

Sunday, and if you enjoyed the full laid on breakfast you were well equipped for the 10am start. This second day seemed to be in complete contrast to the previous. C and D rigs were now replaced for either B or A in the light airs. The German contingency now seemed to be making there mark on the score board, whereas the Dutch remained unhindered and just kept Tjakko Keizer (NED 180) up near the front. Klass Spaargaren (NED 79) was also putting in some good results after an earlier big hit and by lunchtime had put pressure on Dave to equal his points in third place.

Alex had now been able to put in his first discard and was only one point behind Tony W. who was in 11th, remaining in the A fleet for the first four races, but then all was to change for Tony. Promotion followed by demotion on a few races gave Alex the needed practice for him then to remain faithfully in the A fleet for the remainder of the competition. The day had turned out really well and we all now had eight scores on the board to qualify for a double discard.

On to Monday, and maybe we would just like to forget about it, as nothing really changed. We had as some are accustomed to, a really bad weather forecast. 10am start for the B fleet, but only if we had some wind. That's sailing for you, sometimes a bit of a gamble. The Lake was a mill pond and whatever waft of light air came from the club house at tree height left a great lull where we would have liked to have sailed. The only problem would have been a start line across the lake, but nothing ever materialised and showery weather and a promised thunder storm was imminent. Racing was eventually abandoned at 2pm.

Ulrich Gehring was telling me he was nearly unable to make the competition due to illness, but was very glad of the extra persuasion from Cornells to come along as he eventually made a top ten position. A mix of results amongst the top gave us the national flavours, although with Takko Faber in sixth, meant that team Holland had done their usual best and dominated the field. Christel Cracco from Belgium crept in to fourth position and Phillipe Eveillard for France for fifth. Stefan in seventh position had the privilege of gaining a first place in the very last A fleet race which was the icing on his cake.

A great event and location, fantastic food and camaraderie, whether you spoke the lingo or communicated by hand and foot and it was good to see the diversity of Nations. Thanks to the club, referees and race officials.

Overall Results: (top three)

1st Tjakko Keizer, NED 180, 9pts
2nd Klaas Spaargaren, NED 79, 11pts
3rd Dave Fowler, GBR 840, 21pts

Full results can be found here.

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