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Laser UK World and European Qualifier at Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club

by Paul Jenkins & Sam Whaley & Ben Elvin 17 Oct 2018 21:36 BST 13-14 October 2018
Laser UK World and European Qualifier at Royal Norfolk & Suffolk YC © Paul Jenkins

Sponsored by Noble Marine

The view from the club by Paul Jenkins

"The strongest fleet of Laser sailors assembled this year" was a comment from Ben Nicholls, whose two daughters Matilda and Flo were both sailing at the RN&SYC Lowestoft this weekend in a prestigious World & European Qualifier attended by competitors from as far away as Scotland, Ireland & Finland.

Top sailors included Alison Young, a two time Olympian in the Laser Radial fleet, Double World Champion Nick Thompson, who competed in the 2016 Olympics, and Elliot Hanson, who won a Gold Medal in Laser World Cup series event in Japan last month. The top team also included local sailor Georgina Povall, a member of the RYA squad from Hickling Broad SC, Olympic hopefuls Lorenzo Brando Chiavarini (from Scotland!), Jack Weatherall, Hannah Snellgrove and Clementine Thompson.

The RN&SYC managed to put on the event despite the challenging conditions on Saturday in the aftermath of Storm Callum. Whilst the winds had moderated from the gales forecast, the sea conditions made launching off the beach at the Claremont Pier a test of seamanship and Beach Master Peter Sabberton, with the stalwart help of Mark Drake in a drysuit, had their work cut out to get the boats away into the force 4-5 breeze through the swirling surf that was pounding onto the beach.

But with the 'can do' attitude of the RN&SYC get away they did, and out to some fierce and competitive racing. Charlie Stowe, who had recently officiated at a One Ton cup event in the Solent, was appointed Principal Race Officer for this prestigious regatta by the UK Laser Association, with Richard Fryer, Commodore of the RN&SYC, as his Assistant Race Officer.

The weather on Sunday was a complete contrast; sailing had to be postponed for over an hour while waiting for the wind to arrive and when there was enough breeze to get the fleet afloat, it died again giving the Race Officers no alternative to abandon the first Radial race, though the wind did pick up later on, and the standard fleet did manage to complete two races in the remaining time left for racing, whilst the Radials only completed one race.

In the three races the Radial fleet managed to complete on Saturday, Alison Young showed her skill and experience with two first places and winning overall, with Ben Elvin second overall, while Hannah Snellgrove (achieving a third, second & fourth) came third overall, and local Hickling Broad sailor Georgina Povall getting two thirds and a fourth to come a very creditable fourth overall.

In the Standard Fleet sailed by the men and the larger boys, the racing was extremely competitive with Olympic sailor & double World Champion Nick Thompson having a real fight on his hands.

Michael Beckett from Solva SC in Pembrokeshire was the overall event winner with Lorenzo Brando Chiavarini (Royal Northern Clyde YC) runner up. Whilst Elliott Hanson had a first, second & third his overall result of ninth was dictated by his DNF in race 3 and his black flag disqualification in the last race.

Olympian and double World Champion Nick Thompson was third overall, but in the fourth race sailed on Sunday, was beaten into fifth place by local RN&SYC sailor, 17 year old Joe Drake, who is a member of the RYA Youth Squad. Joe then went on to win the last race, came first overall in the youth squad, completing a stunning weekend for himself - winning his first major competitive race in a very strong fleet, and finishing in sixth place overall.

We wish him well for the future and in his aim to represent his country and his club, the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club, at the 2024 Olympics.

The view from the Standard fleet by Sam Whaley

A modest fleet of 26 Standards assembled up in Lowestoft, Norfolk, for the second Autumn Noble Marine World and European Laser Qualifier. With a reasonably scary forecast of 25–38knts, there were definitely a few scared sailors in the boat park. However, with the wind only sitting at 12–16knts, the Race Committee sent everyone out on time anyway.

Race 1 started in glamour conditions, 12–17knts and big waves. Jack Wetherell made the best of the first beat to lead. However, he got overhauled on the following downwind to hand the lead to Elliot Hanson. A big split on the second beat saw him once again regain the lead, which this time he never lost, whilst Hanson took second and Lorenzo Brando Chiavarini third.

In Race 2, Hanson had a great first beat to lead around the top mark, followed by Ben Flower who was sailing remarkably well. Sam Whaley moved into second at the gate but got destroyed by a huge wave upon rounding and allowed the rest of the team to zoom past at the other gate. Hanson sailed well to win the race, with Micky Beckett second and Nick Thompson third.

In Race 3, it was Micky Beckett who nailed the strategy on the first beat to lead by miles, followed by Jake Farren-Price. With the tide in full flow now, some huge waves were breaking over the leeward marks, which was unfortunately placed on a very shallow sandbank. Despite the slightly decreased wind now, multiple people wiped out and some were even standing up!

Micky Beckett comfortably won the weirdest and most confused race ever witnessed at a Qualifier, with Nick Thompson second and Jack Cookson third. The carnage wasn't over quite yet as sailors had to sail through some choppy waters on the way home, with yours truly winning the muppet-of-the-day award after snapping his rig in two after getting mowed down by a particularly large wave.

Although day two brought another windy forecast, sailors were again left disappointed with the apparent lack of wind. After a short postponement onshore for the wind to fill in, the fleet launched in some much smaller breaking waves.

In the first race, Joe Mullan rounded the windward first with local Joe Drake second. A good call (local knowledge?) from Drake at the gate meant he shot into the lead and headed for the shore first. However, in the 15-minute duel along the shoreline, it was Chiavarini who emerged on top, followed by Micky Beckett and Elliot Hanson. With the wind rapidly decreasing to under 5knts, the fleet barely made it around the windward mark before the tide got too strong. No wind meant not much overtaking and the positions stayed the same.

After a big delay and some faffing from the sailors when almost the entire fleet boycotted the last race before losing confidence and sailing back to the start, Race 5 got underway in 8–12knts. Joe Drake, once again, picked some good shifts and tide to comfortably lead around the first mark. Ben Childerley and a few others also had a cracking beat to be in top positions. However, on the second beat and last downwind, Chiavarini moved up into second with Jack Cookson again claiming third.

Overall, Micky Beckett won, even though he didn't sail the final race, with Lorenzo Brando Chiavarini second and Nick Thompson third. First Youth was Joe Drake in sixth place. [Full results below]

The view from the Radial fleet by Ben Elvin

Unseasonably warm air and a strong southerly wind greeted the 60-strong Radial fleet who made the trip to the easternmost point of the UK for the second of the Autumn Qualifiers. The forecast 30knts of wind didn't materialize and, despite some worryingly large waves breaking on the gently shelving sandy beach, the fleet was released promptly to start racing in the steady 20knt breeze and very tidal race area.

It's traditional in the Radial fleet to have a token start without the black flag before several recalls with it, but to the surprise of quite a few sailors who were expecting a number of practice starts with the tide ripping upwind, the first start went and the fleet was off racing.

With a stable breeze, the first upwind was a drag race with the usual high-wind specialists pulling clear. Ali Young and Hannah Snellgrove held their lanes from the line out on the left, while Ben Elvin worked his way up on the right after tacking out of a messy lane at the Committee Boat end. When they all converged at the top mark, Snellgrove and Young held a small advantage, with Elvin rounding close behind. Despite the strong breeze, the large waves were difficult to hook into and there were large gains and losses to be had if you got them right or wrong. A light touch on the tiller and choosing the right moment to sail large angles was the secret, and Young and Elvin seemed to pick it up more quickly, arriving at the gate in first and second. Young adopted a loose cover on Elvin for the second beat and that's how the race ended, with Young holding off Elvin until the finish and Snellgrove coming in third.

At the start of Race 2, the tide was beginning to turn downwind and there were big strategic decisions to be made. Either heading for the beach, which was close on the right, or crossing the channel early and using the bank on the left was going to pay and the sailors had to commit to a decision. The majority of the fleet opted for the beach, but it turned out to be fairly even, with Young and Snellgrove leading from the left at the top mark. The rest of the fleet, including Elvin and Daisy Collingridge who had opted for the 'middle right' strategy, were close behind. By the time the fleet entered the second beat, the tide was running more strongly and the leaders opted for the beach, working their way up to the starboard layline. However, local (ish) sailor Georgina Povall and visiting Irishman Jamie McMahon proved that it was the wrong choice by heading out to the left and making their way upwind over the sandbank to arrive at the second windward mark in third and fourth. The shallow water over the bank on the last downwind provided occasional breaking waves, one of which picked up McMahon and flipped him over, dropping him to fifth. At the finish, Young held off Snellgrove, with Povall taking third.

For Race 3, the tide was at full power, pushing the fleet backwards at over 2knts in the channel. With the wind having dropped significantly down to 10–12knts, it was set to be a long slow upwind. Elvin recognized the danger presented by the tide and waited for the start on port close to the pin end. It proved to be a winning strategy as the fleet struggled to judge the layline correctly with many boats not making it. Elvin tacked around the pin at the gun and headed for the shelter of the bank on the left, followed by Young, Povall and Snellgrove. Initially, the boats on the right looked good as they headed for the beach, but when the boats on the left arrived over the shallower water, it quickly turned around. The upwind was a long game of playing chicken with the large breaking waves because the further over the bank you headed the more shelter you could get from the tide, but also the bigger the waves that would try and break on your boat. After a 30-minute struggle upwind, Elvin finally arrived at the first mark. Snellgrove and Young were close behind, having over-stood by heading to the wrong mark, but gaining from having done so as the shelter from the tide was such a strong factor. Many struggled with the rounding in such strong current and there were a few small pile ups to be seen, but thankfully, the fleet only had to do it once with the race being shortened at the bottom, giving Elvin the bullet, followed by Young and then Povall who had worked her way past Snellgrove on the downwind.

Sunday dawned with significantly less wind and a tricky looking forecast involving a cold front, rain and a multitude of wind directions. After being held on shore for a while under postponement, the Race Officer decided there was just enough northerly wind to start racing and released the fleets. With a strong tide going downwind and the breeze looking unstable, it was always going to be difficult, but it gave a chance for the lighter wind specialists to have their fun with Monica Mikkola taking a healthy lead on the first beat of Race 4 and Matilda Nicholls, who was first Youth Lady overnight, coming in strongly by the first mark, The first run was over rather quickly given the strong tide and it was back into the upwind. Unfortunately, the breeze started to shut off and only Mikkola was able to make it around the windward mark again before it died completed and the fleet start drifting backwards towards the start. The race was abandoned, and after a short while the wind filled in more strongly from the north west and the course was re-laid.

A couple of recalled starts led to the first black flags being handed out before racing could get under way, when the sharp end of the fleet opting for the pin and holding to the left. With the wind blowing off the land it was important to be able to tack and head for pressure, so boats who opted for the more conservative strategy of a mid-line start were able to capitalise. It was Irish Youth sailor Jamie McMahon who made the best of the first beat, followed by Tom Mitchell and Dan McGaughey also coming in strongly. Jon Emmett had managed to find a route to the middle of the course from the pin and was in hot pursuit of the leaders.

On the second upwind, a large patch of pressure moving in from the right led to gains for Elvin and Clemmie Thompson, who headed out into it and came in fast on the starboard layline. On the downwind, Elvin worked a gust coming down the right to briefly take the lead before picking up a yellow flag, allowing McMahon to hold until the finish to take the bullet, followed by Emmett and then Mitchell.

With the 2pm time cut-off long gone, there was no more racing allowed and the fleet headed in for a quick pack up before the rain came in.

Standard Fleet Results:

PosSail NoHelmClubG/S/BR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1210139Michael BECKETTSolva SCG4212DNC279
2214009Lorenzo brando CHIAVARINIRoyal Northern Clyde YCG35DNF271211
3211921Nick THOMPSONWPNSAG5325DNC2715
4211110Jack COOKSONWPNSAG67312319
5201481Jack WETHERELLBSC / WpnsaG144111420
6212660Joseph DRAKERn&syc And WobycG1512104127
7212153Sam WHALEYSwanage Sailing ClubG7899428
8212950Joseph MULLANWeymouth & PortlandG8977830
9209134Elliot HANSONRedesmere SCG21DNF273BFD2733
10211126Ben FLOWERHISCS146813633
11212661Jake FARREN‑PRICEChew Valley Lake ScG9115101034
12210560Jordan GILESRoyal Lymignton YCG1313116535
13214490Daniel WHITELEYPDSCG10106DNC27DNC2753
14210020Alistair GOODWINHaversham SCG121512141553
15214004Ben CHILDERLEYRORCS19161318754
16213966Krishan BHOGALManor Park SCB161415201156
17210423Christopher JONESPwllheliB22242081262
18213967George COUSINSMounts Bay SCS17191415BFD2765
19215205Harry WALLHEADRoyal Harwich YCB20201821967
20211857Lewis SMITHRoyal Forth Yacht ClubG11211619BFD2767
21214125Jake BOWHAYStokes Bay SCB181719161667
22212904Joe WOODLEYBurghfieldS211817DNF271369
23208853Jack ACTONChristchurch SCS232321DNF271784
24213463Guy NOBLEQueen Mary SalingCS242222DNF271886
25172689Adam BARKERNBYCBDNC27DNC27DNC27171990
26214074James PERCIVALRNSYCBDNS2725DNF27DNC27DNC27106

Radial Fleet Results:

PosSail NoLadderHelmG/S/BR1R2R3R4Pts
120625134Alison YOUNGG11254
22142683Ben ELVINS24167
32139722Hannah SNELLGROVEG324119
42127834Georgina POVALLG433DNC6110
52150641Jon EMMETTG5610213
6213000 Jamie MCMAHONNQ10552116
72126626Clementine THOMPSONG1495822
8203033 Monika MIKKOLAB6116DNC6123
9213956 Arthur FRYG779BFD6123
102102209Daisy COLLINGRIDGEG887BFD6123
112100016Chloe BARRG1212121536
122149067Matilda NICHOLLSG910181937
1321367818Tom MITCHELLB251819340
142099974Matt BECKG17168BFD6141
152125347Tom POLLARDS1515131643
16213081 Dan MCGAUGHEYB162539445
172135543Henry BEARDSALLB1323112145
1821023629Anya HAJI‑MICHAELGDNC6117211048
1920998014Charlie SOUTHB1814162048
2021187515Mila MONAGHANG232024750
2121294311Thomas PARKHURSTB1926201453
2221408120Kai WOLGRAMB2419142857
23211012 Gordon COGAN SIVARAJANB3129151862
2421294619Molly SACKERG2713233063
2521400012Arthur FARLEYB2844271267
2621365826Drew BARNESB2227222569
2721290716James FOSTERB202130DNC6171
2820687623Oliver BLACKBURNS2934481376
2920729933Flo NICHOLLSB3828173277
3015839921George GRAHAMS303946978
3120491417Stephanie WINGEATTG3722292778
322094152Nick WELBOURNB212436BFD6181
33208650 Elizabeth BEARDSALLB3652321785
34214008 Oliver STURLEYB3437252685
3521354540George SUNDERLANDB3536382495
3617269024Finn ROBARTSBDNC6133342996
37210976135Scott WILKINSONB3243313497
3820147854Benjamin REASONB4242332398
3919577949Finlay TULETTB4932264199
40211121 Jack MCMAHONB26354243103
41125510 Coco BARRETTB43472833104
4221000035Emma CRANES114549BFD61105
4321290634Barty GRAYB3331DNC6142106
44180288 Simon BECKETTG41305037108
45213080 Max BRADLEYB48513535118
4620889690James BROSNAN WRENB46463736119
4721125638Christine WOODS44384338119
4811985646Jake SCOTTB40404546125
49212055123Arabella SABBERTONB51534431126
50209977 Jonathan HEWATB45485340133
5119857558Molly TULETTB53544145139
52201707 Toby PEARCEB505040DNC61140
53212074 Piers LUXFORDB3941DNC61DNC61141
5420708155Dan BATTYBDNC61DNC61DNF6122144
5521132441Rhys JONESB57495147147
56177861 Alison STEVENSB475547DNS61149
5720945357Elizabeth BROWNB5557DNF6139151
5818031693Christopher HASLAMB5256DNF6144152
59213791 William SYMONDSB5658DNF6148162
60206288 Connor MYERSB54DNF61DNF61DNS61176

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