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120 entries in the Laser UK Nationals at Largs - Runner and Riders in the Standard Fleet

by Ben Flower 23 Jul 2019 11:03 BST 27 July - 2 August 2019
Sam Whaley is leading the Standard fleet on day 4 of the UK National and Open Laser Championships at Plymouth © Paul Gibbins /

With the current entry list for the 2019 Laser Nationals in Largs, defending National Champion Sam Whaley has not yet entered, but knowing Sam he will be there. When he enters he will surely be the favourite for the event, however there are several other sailors who have the potential to win and take Whaley's crown.

Firstly 2019 RYA Youth National Champion Joe Drake, a man who is consistently up there and still one of the youngest in the fleet, last year he finished fifth. Also in the British Youth Sailing Team is Krishan Bhogal and Ben Childerley with both also have the potential, both have put a lot of hard work in over the winter and have taken big strides forward. Childerley who is currently on a gap year has been doing quite a bit of international racing and gaining those valuable lessons on how to race against the very best in the world. A few other youth sailors who missed out on the summer squad but will want to prove people wrong are Chris Jones and Jake Bowhay, both showed in training over the winter they are no slouch and are also very fast.

All these young under 21 sailors but don't rule out the possibility of the master sailors getting in the mix with 'Mr Laser Nationals' himself, Tony Woods, who not only has organised a great social aspect at last year's and this year's Nationals but will also be looking to be in the mix as well. Showing the masters could compete with Sam Whaley was Alan Davis who, at the 2018 Inland Nationals at Rutland ran Whaley close and was unlucky not to make the podium.

Moving on to the sailors who have not yet made that masters category of 35+ but are getting closer year by year. We start with Joe Woodley who can never be ruled out with his cunning tactics and will always be in the mix despite taking big breaks in between events and is as fast as ever. A good friend with Woodley is Jake Farren-Price, who last year at the Inland Nationals ran Whaley all the way, but finished in a strong second. Like all these previous sailors Jake has been putting in the work in the hopes of making the British Sailing Team and if its light all week then that could really play into his hands.

Jack Hopkins and Craig Williamson have been busy training down at Hayling Island gaining valuable time on the water in various different conditions to prepare for whatever Largs will throw at them. This training they have been doing at HISC has been paying off by their results over the last year with Craig finishing sixth at last year's Nationals and Jack getting a fifth at the Plymouth Qualifier earlier this year, beating two sailors on the British Sailing Team.

Lewis Smith who finished 4th at last year's Nationals and this time round has local Scottish knowledge and is used to the harsh and challenging conditions that Largs have to offer. Lastly Cameron Tweedle who made the difficult transition from the Finn back to the Laser has been improving throughout the summer as he gets used to the Laser. Being a full time sailor and competing right across Europe in many International events he is a man with vast experience to bring to the table.

There are currently three international sailors making the journey to Largs with Irish sailing Adam Fermor, Chinese sailor Jonathan Sherretz and Moroccan sailor Adil Elamrati. These sailors are an unknown but can bring their knowledge from afar to challenge the British contingent.

With just a few days before the start of the Nationals there is still time for more competitors to come forward and enter one a very depth driven National Championships. For me it's too close to call for who will make this year's podium but as mentioned above there is at least 18 sailors who have the potential and will all come down to the conditions presented to them.

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