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Coach Yourself to Win by Jon Emmett
Coach Yourself to Win by Jon Emmett

Noble Marine Laser Spring Qualifier at Stokes Bay Sailing Club

by Sam Whaley & Ben Elvin 20 Mar 13:55 GMT 16-17 March 2019
Prize winners from the Qualifier at Stokes Bay © UKLA

Standard report by Sam Whaley

A very good turnout of 40 Laser Standards turned up at Stokes Bay SC for the second instalment of the 2019 Noble Marine World and European Qualifiers. With rumours that this could be the last Stokes Bay Qualifier ever, there were some unhappy faces around, especially after there was no racing on Saturday due to the entire day consisting of 4050knts.

Nevertheless, everyone turned up nice and early on Sunday morning ready for three races in 1320knts. With the start line just 100m from shore, racing quickly got under way on quite a pin-biased line.

Elliot Hanson, Sam Whaley and Dan Whiteley all had good starts, with Hanson showing good speed and positioning to lead the fleet. Henry Wetherell, stepping down from the Finn for a fun weekend in the Laser, used his 97kg to good effect to be second to the first windward and Micky Beckett was third. Henry Wetherell and Beckett swapped positions on the downwind but otherwise positions at the top stayed the same until the finish. Here, it transpired that Hanson had been called over and picked up a UFD, giving Beckett the win, Henry Wetherell second and Nick Thompson third.

Race 2 got under way in similar conditions, but a big split in the fleet occurred. Those who hitched inshore right after the start and then cut all the way over to the left side benefitted massively. Hanson played this well to lead, with Jack Cookson second at the windward. Carnage unfolded in the fleet behind which only helped the lead of the first few boats. Lorenzo Chiavarini had a good comeback to overtake Cookson on the downwind for second, but Hanson was off and comfortably won the race.

Going into the final race, a big left shift made it pin bias and the boats who started down that end seemed to make the most of the first beat. However, Thompson sailed extremely well on the right-hand side to lead at the windward mark, followed by Chiavarini. There was a big bunch fighting for third place, including Cookson, Whiteley, Henry Wetherell and Beckett with Hanson hot on their heels. Chiavarini and Thompson were having a big battle up front, with Chiavarini emerging victorious, whilst Beckett took third from Whiteley, who sailed well for fourth.

Overall, the results were very interesting. With no discard, it took out a few people who you might normally expect to fight for the top positions, but some good racing from Lorenzo Chiavarini secured him another Qualifier win. Micky Beckett took second, Nick Thompson was third and Henry Wetherell, showing he hadn't forgotten his Laser skills, finished fourth.

Thanks to all for another great Qualifier, but we are sad we will not be returning to Stokes Bay in the years to come.

Overall Results: (top three)

1 Lorenzo Chiavarini (7pts)
2 Michael Beckett (9pts)
3 Nick Thompson (11pts)

Full results can be found here.

Radial report by Ben Elvin

With Storm Hannah forecast to pass over Stokes Bay on Saturday, it was decided to cancel that day's racing on Friday to allow the 66 competitors a bit more time to make the journey down to Stokes Bay for the second of the 2019 Noble Marine Spring Qualifiers. The entry list was fully stacked, with the majority of the British Sailing Team sailors returning from Palma and the surprise appearance of Radial legend Steve Cockerill. The decision to delay proved to be a good one, with the wind gusting into the high 40knts all day and little chance of unloading a boat, let alone going sailing. Registration opened at 17.30 to get people signed on before an early start on Sunday in what was predicted to be some classic Solent 'big day' conditions.

Sunday morning dawned and the weather did not disappoint. Glorious sunshine with a westerly breeze of 1825knts and only the 68-degree air temperature let things down. After a short briefing, the fleets were released to go racing with the Radials set to sail the inner loop of the trapezoid course. The westerly wind direction meant that the start line and bottom of the course could be set close to the shore, providing a grandstand view to those watching from the warmth of the clubhouse.

After a short delay getting the course set in the lumpy conditions and allowing for the obligatory general recall, the first race got under way. Daisy Collingridge made a punchy start at the pin end to try and be first over to the tidally favoured left side of the beat. Jon Emmett and Hannah Snellgrove took a more conservative route, deciding to tack sooner and make more of the shifts once in the tide. This seemed to work well because they came together at the first mark with Ben Elvin and Chloe Barr, who had gone hard left. On the run back down to the bottom, it was Elvin who managed to link together the gusts and waves and pulled out a lead on the chasing pack, and Matilda Nichols also took places to pull herself up into contention for the top three. Back upwind, Elvin went back to the left side, covering the fleet and eventually taking the win. Slightly further back, Youth sailor and newcomer to the fleet, Finley Dickinson was laying out his stall for a strong day, taking sixth place in front of Collingridge.

For the second race, the tide at the pin had started to set against the fleet and this caught out many sailors, with a large bunch failing to clear the streaming anchor line and getting rafted. As people tacked and gybed their way out of it, Snellgrove was punching free from a conservative position towards the middle of the line and was already opening a gap. Again, opting for the conservative strategy, she arrived at the first mark with a good lead from Emmett and Nicholls, who had also made a clean start away from the mess of the pin. Meanwhile, Georgina Povall and Elvin were trying to rescue a result and dig themselves out of trouble after the pin-end melee, eventually managing it on the second upwind by finding clear lanes on the left and getting the bow down to punch over the fleet. At the second windward mark, Snellgrove and Emmett had extended further to take first and second comfortably, while Nicholls still had work to do to hold off Elvin and take third.

Race 3 was the time to answer difficult questions about the tide. At some point, it was going to pay to switch from the left side to the right and head inshore, but as always at Stokes Bay, it wasn't obvious when that would happen. Emmett and Dickinson made the call for the right and tacked off early, with Snellgrove taking the middle route and Elvin the left. When the boats inshore tacked, it initially looked like they had got it right and had a significant lead, but as they came back across to Snellgrove, it returned to all square with a slight advantage over the left. The downwind offered the opportunity for some big gains if you could link the waves together. At the bottom, Snellgrove had a comfortable lead, followed by Dickinson and then Elvin. Snellgrove opted to cover from middle right, with Elvin going low mode into the shore under Dickinson. Dickinson nearly managed to hold onto his second place, calling the lay line perfectly but ultimately getting rolled by Elvin, who had overstood the lay line slightly. Snellgrove had consolidated her position well and was out of reach of the chasers, with Elvin taking second and Dickinson holding off Emmett on the final downwind to take third.

Overall, it was Elvin and Snellgrove tied on points for the win, with Snellgrove taking it on countback by virtue of her two first places. Jon Emmett was third.

Overall Results: (top three)

1 Hannah Snellgrove (7pts)
2 Ben Elvin (7pts)
3 Jon Emmett (8pts)

1 Hannah Snellgrove (7pts)
2 Georgina Povall (14pts)
3 Matilda Nicholls (25pts)

1 Finley Dickinson (16pts)
2 Matilda Nicholls (25pts)
3 Nick Welbourn (31pts)

Full results can be found here.

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