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RC Laser UK National Championship at Fleetwood Model Boat Club

by Tony Wilson 27 Sep 08:09 BST 21-22 September 2019

We had a fantastic line up and to be held at a great venue. The RC Laser Nationals were upon us yet again. With a possible tricky wind direction and whenever there's some South at Fleetwood, sailors beware.

Entries from as far afield as Belgium, Holland and closer by north of the border Scotland and near by North Wales, it was going to be one to remember. Top Skippers entered from all over and there were certainly some big names amongst them.

With at least 34 entries on the day, names were randomly chosen and split into 3 large even groups for the seeding races. Once all three groups had raced for the opener, then the top handful from each group would then form the 'A' fleet and then the next clutch from each would be the 'B' group and the lower ones would make up the 'C' fleet. Points were all awarded and divided from the first race, so you actually had 3 first places, 3 second places and so on.

Once this was out of the way we were then onto race two which would commence with the 'C' fleet. The top 6 from this group were promoted at the end of the race to 'B' fleet and race again. At the end of the 'B' fleet race the top 6 were promoted to the next race which was the 'A' fleet and the lower 6 would start again next time around in the 'C' fleet race. Once all three fleets had sailed and at the end of the 'A' fleet race, the points were all awarded accordingly. Some of us may have never sailed in heats before, so a bit of background information can help.

If you remain in your fleet, you get a good break in between. This said some of us were constantly on the move and really got our money's worth. We seemed to be racing nearly every race through constant promotion and demotion.

Individuals were selected from non sailing heats to act as observers, so at times we had at least three referees along with the start and finish judges to keep the troops in order.

The first couple of heats had been sailed mainly in 'B' rig, but the wind was getting up all the while. The direction was from the clubhouse and from the East with some South in it. The strength didn't seem to be as strong as forecast, but by about 11:00 it was starting to pick up and 'C rigs were certainly on peoples minds.

Some skippers were pleasantly surprised with promotion and others that we thought should have gone up had to wait their turn. It was a very strong field and everyone was doing themselves proud to be sailing alongside the top skippers from the Nations.

By race three it was a wild mix of 'B' rigs and 'C' rigs. Some seem to be experimenting and swapping back and forth between races. Race two had Rob Wheeler win his race being the only one with 'B' rig and now others were chancing it, but still it was all a gamble.

Lunch was had at about 1:30 if you had finished your 'C' fleet race. If promoted, then you had to wait a while. 'A' fleet seemed to just get about about 15 mins. and then we were all back to the beginning again.

The racing all seemed to be going very well. The direction was pretty constant apart from a few minor tweaks to the start line and the angle of the gate. The course sailed was roughly two and a half laps with a windward mark and spreader and down and through the gate twice. Both marks were being used effectively, although the nearer looked favourite for most.

From the early scores individuals had been chosen and put into groups of three for end results Tot's. to be announced at close of play.

Team racing for Saturday evening had been decided against due to failing light, so we raced right up to 5:30 and had concluded seven races with John Tushingham GBR 711 well in front.

On to Sunday and some may have had a sore head from the previous evening celebrations, but then onto more headaches as the wind had moved. Lighter winds with some East in it at first but was promised to swing right round to our dreaded South.

From Saturday's line up, we had lost a couple of Skippers, so now the whole group was split into just two groups. A further 3 races continued until the southerly shift came, right in the middle before 'A' heat's race.

Lunch break called and then onto the South beat. A crammed line looked impossible to those that haven't sailed at Fleetwood across the short stretch. A diagonal Reach followed by another short beat, reach across, run down to the start buoy and repeat. As probably predicted by a few it did get very cosey by that first leeward mark.

The racing concluded at the end of 'A' fleet and it was decided a good time to finish the day as the wind had also abandoned us.

For some of us the race finish order was probably nearly what was to be expected, with the top ten skippers in that line up. Some of us thought we should have done better and then, there's always next year.

Thanks to all that made the event a great success.

The galley staff, race officer Peter Baldwin, finish judges Judy, Bob and Garry and any others that we have forgot.

Prizes kindly donated personally by Nigel Seary included A and B sails, a rig and a goody bag for all, that contained a rudder servo, pot lid and sticker.

Results (top five):

1. John Tushingham GBR 711 - 18pts
2. Derek Priestley GBR 670 - 30pts
3. Tim Long GBR 999 - 40pts
4. Shaun Priestley GBR 144 - 42pts
5. Taco Faber NED 01 - 46pts

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