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Tactics Made Simple by Jon Emmett
Tactics Made Simple by Jon Emmett

Review of Laser Sailing at Stokes Bay Sailing Club

by Lydia Barber 5 Mar 2020 09:24 GMT 21-22 March 2020
Laser Sailing at Stokes Bay © Tanya Piper

Ask somebody where the sailing hub of the UK is, the answer? The south coast. Ask somebody where to Laser sail on the south coast, the answer? Stokes Bay.

One of the most well renowned sailing clubs, Stokes Bay SC, is situated in Gosport. The club has produced many champions and great Laser sailors such as Ben Ainslie, Steve Cockerill and Ben Elvin to name a few, many of which are current members at Stokes Bay, just waiting to race you.

The UKLA World & European Qualifier / UKLA Youth event 10 is at Stokes Bay on 21-22 March.


The club has many Laser sailors and is normally the biggest fleet out on the water. Recently the fleet has received an influx of Students, from both Southampton Solent and the Uni of Southampton, meaning the number of Lasers sailing weekly has grown. There is a 'Stokes Bay ILCA's' WhatsApp group, where we converse times to sail, there is always somebody looking for a sail! We tend to get to the club have a chat, rig and get out sailing, with the whole Solent to play in why wouldn't you want to join us? We sail in different parts according to the tide/wind sometimes going right down to the Spit Bank Fort at Portsmouth, or all the way up to the Isle of Wight.

Our little training sessions at the weekend normally gather at least six sailors, with ten of us going out a few weeks ago, in Winter! Who knows what the warmer months are going to bring? I'm thinking more Lasers! We also rarely wait for the Weekend to sail, you can normally find some of us on the water during the week when the weather, work and university timetable align for us. Getting the hours in is crucial to getting better at Laser sailing, as we all know what a competitive class it is!


As mentioned above, the 'Stokes Bay ILCA'S' group chat prompted the idea of some more 'formal' training, so towards the end of 2019 Luke South and Norman Struthers organised a training event for 10 boats with Laser sailing legend Dan Belben. Two sessions happened in 2019 with plans for more in 2020. The training is beneficial to all sailors, with starts, races and techniques all being scrutinized and put into practice. The training days were extremely affordable, less than £20 each for the day, with proper coaching from a RIB, who doesn't want that to help them improve their Laser skills?

Level of Sailing

The level of Laser sailing at Stokes hosts a great spread, from the pros competing at World and European events like Ben Elvin, the current Inland National champion, and past two-time Youth National Champion Chloe Barr. However, these front runners always have a good race against all members, knowing the tides makes a huge difference! There are also sailors relativity new to the sport learning from the best, the fleet has wide range of skill levels, all racing against some of the best, which in turn is creating a great inclusive and competitive fleet at the club!


Stokes Bay also holds a UK Laser Class Association World and European qualifier annually, why would you not want to sail at a venue that holds such a prestigious and important event for Laser sailors? The tide also has little effect on the launching at Stokes, as you can launch at high and low tide, just watch out for it on the water! You can also find most sea states on our part of the Solent, with rollers down at Portsmouth and short chop closer to the club, it's tricky to start with but I've been told once you can sail on the 'Stokes sea' you can sail anywhere. The club also has great facilities such as indoor storage for your sails, four easy to use hosepipes to rinse the boats after sailing and a great club house with a new Galley. The members are friendly and welcoming, especially within the fleet.

Final Thoughts

Overall the it is safe to say the Laser fleet at Stokes Bay is top class! The inclusive training, friendly club and amazing venue all help create the ideal place for Laser Sailors to hone their craft. The club has recently installed a new weather station too! So, you can pick and choose when to sail on the day. Come down and race us!

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