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ILCA / Laser Summer Series at Queen Mary Sailing Club

by Guy Noble 28 Sep 15:20 BST
Orlando Gledhill rounding the gybe mark during the ILCA / Laser Summer Series at Queen Mary Sailing Club © QMSC

A hard fought series comes to an end with O'Gorman on top - but only just!

Back in May many of us were feeling as if the season was slipping away without any prospect of decent racing. However, all over the country, clubs were working hard to find ways to get back on the water safely and put together some meaningful, competitive and fun racing.

Queen Mary Sailing Club introduced Wednesday evening racing in early July and soon after stared the Sunday morning summer series. Both were, as usual extremely successful with 69 competitors for the handicap evening series and 57 Lasers competing in the summer series.

After 11 weeks and 22 races Roger O'Gorman came out the Summer Series winner seeing off late challenges by Orlando Gledhill and Mark Lyttle. O'Gorman chalked up four wins mid series which he defended vigorously - in spite of a dip in form just after his winning streak. The top four were separated by only five points - it really was down to the last couple of races.

Going into the final Sunday the top three positions where O'Gorman, Somers Kempe and Guy Noble. However Kempe and Noble looked vulnerable as they were counting several bad results. Gledhill and Lyttle perform extremely well especially when the wind is blowing and Sunday morning saw a gusty 15 to 24 kn Northerly. Saturday night Noble had a dream that in the first race he sailed Gledhill to the back of the fleet and in the second race did the same with Lyttle - thereby protecting his hard won third place. Is it acceptable in club racing to have a go at sailing somebody to the back of the fleet? Of course in this instance two of the most accomplished masters in the World surely are fair game (albeit unlikely to work) but what about doing that to the average good club sailor - I'm not sure how that would go down in many clubs but it is a skill that is sometimes needed in a regatta - just think of the Ainslie / Scheidt spat back in the day!

Needless to say Gledhill and Lyttle showed a somewhat reduced fleet a clean pair of heels in both races with Gledhill scoring two bullets closely followed by Lyttle. Elbowed out down into fourth position was new member Somers Kempe - only one point behind Lyttle. At QM we have a tradition that the sailor who rounds the first mark of the first race does the race report - Chris Ellyatt has that Privilage for the final day's racing - see below.

Other notable performances were by Sebastien Kempe, Markus Bird, Mike Pryor, Tom Tindall, Neil Davies and Tom Nash - all chalking up some decent results. It should also be noted that Marshall King, a very experienced sailor, was counting maximum points as he had only completed 10 races. Neil Davies leaves QM this autumn and is off to the south cost and Parkstone SC - good luck, we'll miss you.

Well done to all those who helped make the racing at QM so great.

Sunday 27th September Race Report (by Chris Ellyatt)

The first blast of Autumn weather brought with it a decent 14-15 knot northerly with some punchy gusts into the mid 20's delivered in traditional variable QM direction. 21 boats turned out, down slightly on the strong turnout of recent weeks - It was presumably a little too breezy for series leader Roger, and our absentee fleet captain. The RO set a longish course of 4 laps and had the windward mark a merciful distance from the club house, avoiding some of the more radical shifts at this end of the reservoir.

A left shift in the final minute pre start for race 1 made the pin end favoured, and your reporter was able to get away just behind Gareth Edwards. Sailing into a further knock the boats on our hip sensibly peeled off onto port, yet there was seemingly yet more lifting pressure working further down the left side for those that held on a little longer, delivering Chris E a healthy lead at the top mark and saving a mightily relieved Orlando yet another week of editorial duty. He rounded in second chased by a sizeable pack as the fleet spread out more so than has been the case lately.

Orlando politely allowed Chris to lead for a couple laps before, with some annoying inevitability, passing him on the third beat, shortly followed by Mark L - both of them displaying really very unnecessary pace upwind and especially on the (very enjoyable) reaches. We finished in that order followed by a fast moving Marshall. Tom lead Aaron home in the radials, chased hard by Gareth.

Race 2 again started with the pin favoured, but less so this time and those starting mid line or 2/3 the way down were able to tack off fairly quickly, with Orlando and Mark quickly punching out in what had become something of a drag race on port to the windward mark. There were some gains to be had on each beat however in trying to nail the lay line back on starboard, working across on the occasional right shift - as ever the last 50 metres to the mark threw in some surprises, yet all was strangely quiet without Roger providing his standard commentary.

Orlando and Mark tore off downwind in their own private match race, chased by an excitable Guy Noble with Chris and Marshall and Neil in pursuit. Distracted by Neil performing a most elegant pirouette, Marshall death rolled in for a swim allowing an unusually muted James B to ease through. Orlando held an admittedly somewhat hungover Mark off for his second bullet, followed home by Chris, Guy and James. The radials were perhaps not surprisingly well up the fleet, and Tom again took the win from Aaron. Very well done Mike Wood in battling around to finish race 2 in challenging conditions.

Of note in the car park is an outbreak of assorted poncho/changing robe type garments, clearly the must-have accessory as we ponder the prospect of outdoor changing as temperatures fall. Simon Cavey leads the field by some distance here - seek him out for advice. To much excitement we hear that resident elite coach Steve F is shortly to return to regular sailing, not before time, and long-time QM stalwart Tim Law is re-joining the fleet for the Autumn / Winter Series - as if it wasn't hard enough to win a race already! We look forward to seeing them both.

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