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Its a win for the Laser Standard Class in the RYA eSailing Spring Class Championship

by Emma Slater 22 Jun 13:56 BST 20 June 2020
Class champs final race course - RYA eSailing Spring Class Championship © RYA

Whittled down from 788 racers, representing 26 different classes, the top 19 eSailing class champions took to the virtual waters on Saturday (20 June) to battle it out for the title of RYA eSailing Spring Class Champion.

Racing was incredibly tight throughout but it was Mike O'Donovan (Deja-Vu), representing the UK Laser Association - Laser Standard class, who, with some consistent racing throughout, clinched the championship title.

"It was really tight racing through-out and I'm really happy to win. It all came down to the final race where I had to make some strategic decisions," commented Mike.

With commentary provided by RYA Keelboat Development Manager, Jack Fenwick and Sam Usher, RYA NE Regional Development Officer, the final consisted of five, two lap races, with two discards and penalties resulting in racers being auto slowed for 10 seconds.

Mike started his championship campaign with a win in race one, closely followed by Sam Whaley for the WASZP class, who would end up challenging Mike (Laser Standard) throughout the final, coming in second and third going to Tom Jeffcote for the Scorpion class.

Arthur Henderson for the Merlin Rocket's clinched the best start, but fell back down the fleet due to too many penalties, "I had a great start, but it's more important to have a great finish", commented Arthur.

Race two and there was lots of bunching on the start line. At the first mark Arthur Farley for the Laser Radials was leading the fleet, being chased down by Rory Chalmers for the RC35 Scotland class, before Rory claimed a penalty and was pushed back to fourth.

Heading in to the final run and it was very close between the top three boats. Arthur pulled away but it still remained extremely close for second and third. Arthur held his lead and took the win for the Laser Radial, with second place going to Stephen Videlo for the Larks and Rory Chalmers taking third for the RC35 Scotland.

It was a battle for the pin end to start race three, with Mike O'Donovan (Laser Standard) once again challenging for a place at the head of the fleet. At the spreader mark the top three boats were within inches of each other, but as they came over the finish line it was a win for Liam Willis for the RS Aero 9, with Mike O'Donovan clinching second and Rory Chalmers (RC35 Scotland) taking third.

With no clear leader heading in to race four and with two discards available "it's all still to play for" commented Jack Fenwick.

It was a great start for Will Hitchman for the 2000 class, but it was Donnie Gillies, who is also currently the number one ranked UK esailor, for the GP14 class out at the front of the pack at the first mark, closely followed by Sam Whaley (WASZP).

With ten boats all on the port tack lay line, it was penalty after penalty at the rounding; luckily Donnie (GP14) got around unscathed and raced on for the win. Sam Whaley (WASZP) took a very close second, with less than a second between him and Donnie, and Dan Bullock (DanBullockArt) for the RS Aero 7 claiming third.

With the leader board extremely close, anything could happen in the last race!

RS Aero 7 racer Dan Bullock lead off the line but it was Arthur Farley (Laser Radial) who, with his spinnaker flying moved to the head of the fleet. Another interesting windward mark rounding but Arthur maintained the lead, followed closely by Donnie Gillies (GP14). Arthur continued to pull away from the fleet and went on to take the win. Rory Chalmers (RC35 Scotland) claiming second and Mike O'Donovan (Laser Standard) racing in to the third place.

  • Will Hitchman - 2000 - "A fantastic event with a very high standard of racing. Felt great to have some competitive sailing, in any way possible! A massive thanks to the RYA."

  • Donnie Gillies - GP14 - "Well done Mike. Another cool performance to win. Good racing though the fleet, very tough!"

  • Greg Eaton - Firefly - "Thanks to all the RYA staff for organising a great couple of weekends racing. Seriously competitive finals, so thanks to the other racers... well and truly thrashed."

"It was amazing to watch such close racing which can been seen with four different race winners from the five races. Well done to Mike on an impressive win, it was great to see it come down to a final race showdown and the tactical battle that created", commented RYA eSailing guru Adam McGovern.

Don't worry if you missed the action, you can still watch it on the RYA YouTube channel

As well as the claiming the Championship crown, Mike wins an Essential 45L Dry Tube, courtesy of Musto, a dryrobe plus a virtual Q&A session for their class with a member of the British Sailing Team.

Overall Results:

1UK Laser Association - Laser StandardMike O'Donovan
2UK Laser Association - Laser RadialArthur Farley
3WaszpSam Whaley
4RC35 ScotlandRory Chalmers
5RS Aero 7Dan Bullock
6GP14Donnie Gillies
7LarkStephen Videlo
8RS Aero 9Liam Willis
92000Will Hitchman
10Merlin RocketArthur Henderson
11International 2.4m RMegan Pascoe
12UK Laser Association - Laser 4.7Max Steele
13SB20Isabelle Waha
14RS Tera SportFreddie Sunderland
15StreakerGiles Therkelson‑Smith
16ScorpionTom Jeffcote
17MiracleIan Fryett
18FireflyGreg Eaton
19HornetJustin Jones

"The racing has been phenomenal throughout the whole championship, and the skill and quality of racing in the final is testament to that" commented Celia Edgington, RYA Shows and Promotions Manager. "We are delighted that so many racers and classes got involved in the championship, helping not only sailors to continue practicing and honing their race skills, but also as a means of keeping the racing community engaged and in touch with each other."

Next on the RYA eSailing calendar is the RYA Sailability eSailing Multiclass Regatta.

If you want to find out more about how you can get involved with eSailing or want to pick up some eSailing top tips then visit for more information.

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