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Images - Eddie Mays and Paul Williamson

NeilPryde UK Laser Nationals Report


Harken are proud to be Equipment Sponsors for this year’s Laser Nationals, catch up on the daily events from this fantastic competition here:

DAY 1: Sunday 10th August 

Event location: Largs S.C.        

Report from UKLA

Whilst the big boats competing in the Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland race were postponed and the Merlin sailors in Looe were playing beach rounders because of Big Bertha the one hundred and fifty Laser helms in Largs were kept ashore for lack of wind. Eventually in the early afternoon a Northerly breeze about 10-12 kts arrived to allow all three fleets to complete two races in a fine Scottish drizzle. All starts used a common trapezoidal course laid near Great Cumbrae.

There are a very healthy percentage of youth sailors in the standard fleet this year and it was Ireland’s youth sailor Dougie Power who took the first gun ahead of Alistair Goodwin and Anthony Parke. Jack Aitken, having finished fourth in race one, then showed the others the way home in the second race to lead overnight. Next away were the Laser 4.7 fleet and they also used the outer loop of the trapezoidal course but with a shortened windward leg. Nearly forty percent of this fleet have made the trip across from Ireland and so it will be very interesting to see who wins out overall. The first race was a close run thing with the British pair Alex King and Aaran Holman just holding off the challenge from Ireland’s Nicole Hemeryck. Aaran improved his place, by one, in the second race whilst Alex had to be content with third and second overall.

With nearly ninety Radials entered the decision was made to split the fleet into two starts and race the first half of the week in a Round Robin format. If today’s results are anything to go by this could be one of the most exciting week’s racing for a long time. Each start had a different winner and at the end of the day three helms, Jon Emmett, Scotland’s Jamie Calder and Ireland’s Liam Glynn; were all tied on three points.

The Championship is being sponsored by Neil Pryde ably assisted by Harken UK as the equipment sponsors. Racing continues until Friday and with brighter conditions but stronger winds expected on Monday the fun has just begun.

DAY 2: Monday 11th August

Conditions were undoubtedly tougher for all the competitors today as the tail end of the bad weather swept across the north of the UK but there were not the excessive gusts that the GP 14s suffered in Ireland. We hope that everyone over there is now fully recovered and their championships continue successfully.

Overnight the wind had backed to Westerly and, whilst the mean wind speed was about twenty kts, the gusts were up to twenty four kts and the lulls down to ten kts. The change in wind direction was a definite advantage enabling the Race Officers to complete two races for all the rigs. The start line was laid just off the clubhouse, to the delight of the spectators, and the trapezoidal course was laid in the channel with the windward marks towards Great Cumbrae, giving as much shelter as possible.

All fleets used the outer loop of the course which helped with the allocation of safety cover and as a further precaution and, to give greater safety cover, the racing sequence was extended with only two fleets racing at any one time. Read this slowly as I shall write it only once. The Standards were called afloat first and started in their first race. Then the Radial Blue Fleet was released and started. With the Radials on course and the Standards finished Race 1 the sequence was repeated. Standards started, Radial Blues finished and then started their Race 2. Standards finished Race 2 and sent ashore thereby releasing the Laser 4.7 fleet to race. Finally the Radial Yellow fleet went afloat and raced and apart from a couple of facial injuries and a small amount of broken gear everyone was back in time for tea.

The front runners in the Standard fleet had a very mixed day. There were race wins for Cameron Tweedle and Sam Whaley but the most consistent sailor was junior helm Hamish Munro with a 2, 4 scoreline. With four races completed the first discard is allowed and this has enabled Alistair Goodwin to discard his Race 4 8th place and lead overnight from Sam Whaley. Quite often the Laser 4.7 fleet has one helm that tends to dominate the fleet. This year looks as if it may buck the trend. Irish sailor Nicole Hemeryck sailed extremely well today to win her first race and come 2nd behind 14 year old Milo Gill-Taylor in the other race but both Arran Holman and Alex King are also sailing very consistently and only a couple of points separate all three.

The Radial Blue fleet starts were comparatively peaceful affairs compared to the rush of blood to the heads of the Radial Yellow fleet helms where both their races saw boats excluded by the ‘black flag’ rule. The most notable names were Irishman Liam Glynn in the first race and Jamie Calder in the second. Jon Emmett and John Booth are still slogging it out, as they have been for over a season now. Both raced in the Blue fleet today and ended with a win and a second place apiece to share the top of the leader board. They are joined on four points by Jamie Calder, who like Liam has discarded his black flag result. Liam brother’s Ryan is one point behind his sibling on six points. All very, very close.

The evening’s ‘entertainment’ was the Association AGM followed by the NeilPryde Draw and the new Laser sail from Laser Performance was won by family member Marshall King from Royal Lymington

There are another six races scheduled before the end of the championship on Friday. The regatta is sponsored by NeilPryde and Harken UK

DAY 3: Tuesday 12th August

The sun didn’t shine on Largs today until racing was almost finished and the wind didn’t blow quite as hard as yesterday so all fleets completed another two races in ‘damp’ conditions. The Race Team took all the fleets out into the main channel to the north of Gt. Cumbrae and they used both the inner and outer loops of the single trapezoidal course. The wind stayed at about 15 – 20kts at 260 degrees for the whole time but started to fade as the last fleet was finishing

After the first General Recall by the Standards PRO Ken Falcon brought out the Black Flag for the rest of the day and there was a steady trickle of transgressors in all the rigs during the racing, including one hapless but unnamed 4.7 helm who managed a double black. Talking generally afterwards Ken remarked that in strong breeze conditions races are very rarely won on the start line and with virtually no tide during the first start sequence he was surprised at the number of boats caught OCS (& black flagged).

When the Standards did get away Alistair Goodwin improved his overall position by taking the first gun ahead of Finn Murphy (not Irish) with Ireland’s Dougie Power 3rd ahead of Sam Whaley. Alistair couldn’t repeat his success in the 2nd race slipping to 7th behind the winner Jack Aitken. Anthony Parke put behind him the disappointment of an earlier black flag to come 2nd with Dougie & Sam again filling the next two spots. Alistair, Jack, Sam & Dougie are very slowly putting a bit of daylight between themselves and the rest of the fleet but with six races still to go anything could and probably will happen. In the 4.7 fleet Arran Holman had a day to remember as he took the gun in both his races but even these good results leave him just 2 pts ahead of Nicole Hemeryck and 3 pts ahead of Alex King who traded 2nd & 3rd places today. Milo Gill-Taylor is hanging on in 4th place overall.

The Radial fleet are still in their qualifying series, final day tomorrow, and if anything the battle at the top of the leader board is intensifying. After today’s racing none of the top ten boats are counting a score worse than 10th and the makeup of this group is five GBR boats, three Irish helms and two Israeli sailors, who co-incidentally are the top two Lady helms as well. In the Blue fleet Jon Emmett and Jamie Calder led the way and had identical score lines with a win & a 2nd apiece. They remain tied together on 7 pts. Tim Brow has been quietly accumulating 2nd & 3rd places on a regular basis and he added two 3rds to his card and is 6th overall. In the Yellow fleet the ‘unluckiest’ helm was John Booth. In the first race he crossed the line first but found that he had been awarded a 20% place penalty for breaking SI 10.7 (Holding area violations) – see SIs on the event website for the full explanation. Ryan Glynn (IRE) took 2nd with Oren Jacob (ISR) 3rd and another Irish helm Mark Bolger 4th. Oren then went on to complete a great day’s racing by winning the afternoon race from John (Booth), Liam & Ryan (Glynn) in 2nd, 3rd & 4th respectively. 

The Radials complete their Qualifying series tomorrow and are then split into Gold & Silver fleets for the final two days’ racing. The Standards and Laser 4.7 fleets are scheduled to have two races per day until Friday evening. The UKLA is very grateful for the support it is receiving from the championship sponsors NeilPryde and Harken UK. The full results can be found on the Assn website.

DAY 4:

 Life became much simpler for everyone today. The sun came out, look at the images if you don’t believe me, the wind shifted slightly to the left (300 degs) and blew at a pleasant 15 kts. All fleets went racing and completed two races each with only one boat called OCS during the day. PRO Ken had had a chat with the competitors at the morning briefing about the use of the ‘Black Flag’ after yesterday’s numerous ejections. (I always want to put the words black flag in apostrophes and with capital letters). The course was laid to the north of Gt. Cumbrae and with the exception of one General Recall for the Standard fleet’s second race it was great racing. 

The Standard fleet has a new leader after today’s two races. Anthony Parke took the morning race ahead of Scotland’s Jack Aitken and Sam Whaley. Overnight leader Alistair Goodwin had his worst result so far in 12th place, now his discard. Alistair recovered well in the next race to finish 2nd behind Sam and ahead of Finn Murphy and Toby Woodings, whose 4th place was his best result so far. Sam has now moved into a 3 point lead with Alistair and Jack tied on 27 points apiece. After tomorrow’s first race a 2nd discard will be allowed and the top of the table could be even tighter.

The trio at the top of the 4.7 fleet are very slowly pulling away from the rest, although Milo Gill-Taylor is hanging on to their coat tails with another good scoreline today. In the morning race all three took the top three places. Ireland’s Nicole (Hemeryck) won from Arran (Holman) with Alex (King) 3rd and Milo was 4th. In the afternoon Ireland’s Rory Fekkes put behind him some his earlier disappointments to take a very good win with Abbie Back also coming from the middle of the fleet to take 2nd ahead of Milo (3rd) and Alex (4th). Arran used his discard to get rid of his 15th place. Least said, soonest mended. However, Arran does have a 2 point advantage over Nicole with Alex a further 3 points adrift with four races and another discard to come.

Now the Radials have finished their Qualifying Series they will race the final two days in Gold and Silver fleets with the two fleets split evenly at 43 boats each. The discard allowances now get a little more complicated (Oh Vey!). Unlike the Standards and 4.7s who, after nine races, can discard their worst two scores the Radials are allowed two discards but only one from the final series of four races. This has been known to have a significant effect in past championships.

In today’s racing Jon Emmett and John Booth were both in Blue fleet whilst Jamie Calder, Ryan and Liam Glynn were in the Yellow fleet. John Booth took both winning guns in Blue with Jon Emmett coming 2nd in both. Behind this pair Oren Jacob and Tim Brow finished 3rd and 4th in the morning and 4th and 3rd in the afternoon. In the Yellow start Ryan (Glynn) recorded two 2nd places, Jamie (Calder) won the morning race and Liam (Glynn) took the gun in the afternoon.

The overall table now has the following seven helms in the best position:  

1st         Jon Emmett      11 pts

2nd        John Booth       13 pts

3rd         Ryan Glynn       15 pts

=4th       Jamie Calder, Liam Glynn and Tim Brow 20 pts

7th         Oren Jacob       25 pts

The Silver fleet is headed by Hamish Eckstein with the next seven places separated by only 17 pts, which is nothing in terms of overall position from hereon in. 

 Day 5: Thursday, 14th August 2014

 Report from UKLA 

 Today turned out to be a long day and, in the end, a rather disappointing day for some of the competitors. When the Race Officers went afloat in the morning there was NW’erly 7 – 8 kt breeze that looked to be fairly steady. With all the Lasers on their way to the start area the wind died completely and there was no alternative but to send everyone back. For the next couple of hours it was just a matter of sitting and waiting. After a late lunch the wind returned from the same direction, 300 degrees, and at a healthy 10 kts. Racing got underway and for the majority of the afternoon went well. During the second race the arrival of a large dark cloud from the north presaged an increase in wind speed to 14 kts but then, as the Standards & 4.7s were finishing their race, there was a massive wind shift from 300 to 110 degs. The Radial Gold fleet was badly affected by this change and there was an appeal for redress by a group of the worst affected. 

In the Standard fleet Anthony Parke scored his 2nd win of the week in the first race ahead of Oliver Davenport & Geoffrey Sherwood. Alistair Goodwin edged Sam Whaley for 4th place to keep the pressure on the leader. With nine races completed the 2nd discard kicked in and, whilst not affecting the top of the leader board too much, it undoubtedly helped Sam to consolidate his position when he won the 2nd race of the day. Oliver had another 2nd place ahead of Craig Williamson in 3rd. Jack Aitken and Alistair rounded out the top five places. Nothing is clear cut but almost certainly the winner of this fleet will come from the top 3; Sam, Alistair and Jack. It will depend on who makes the least mistakes, as usual.

The Laser 4.7 fleet were also relatively unaffected by the wind shift. In the first race Alex King took the gun ahead of Ireland’s Emily Hill, her first top five finish of the week, with Milo Gill-Taylor 3rd and two more Irish helms Ben Martin and Anna McNulty filling out the Top 5. For the 2nd race the wind had moved enough at the end for the boats to have to beat to the finish line but the order had already been established and the results were fair. Arran Holman held off Alex for the win. Ireland’s Rory Fekkes finished 3rd ahead of Josh Haynes, recovering from a poor patch in the middle races, and Nicole Hemeryck. Again it is hard to see the winner coming from anywhere but between the top three; Arran, Alex or Nicole.

The next fleet to finish were the Radial Silver fleet. Hamish Eckstein had started the day with a small lead over the others. He widened the gap further when he won the first race. He was followed home by another youth sailor Hugh Braidwood and junior helm Jack Shepherd. In the second race the PRO decided to shorten the race after three legs as the wind had shifted and was fading. Sawa Tretyakov took the gun but, unnoticed by the finishing recorders, Hamish had already rounded the mark and was on the next leg. Hamish requested and was granted redress. Sawa retained his single point score, which lifted him to 4th overall. Hugh came 2nd (5th o/a), Will was 3rd (2nd o/a). Hamish goes into the final day’s racing with a 30 point lead and would need a disaster to be overtaken.

Today was the start of the final series for the Gold fleet and matched all the top sailors for the first time. John Booth has been sailing extremely well all week. Even Jon Emmett admitted that John was probably the fastest boat in the fleet and, apart from his blemish in Race 5, has scored nothing but ones and twos. It was the same in the first race John takes the gun ahead of Jon. Ryan Glynn maintained his 3rd place overall by finishing 3rd. The fun really started in the last race. With the fleet well into the race the 180 deg wind shift caused major upsets. To quote from the bible, Mark 10:31 “But many who are first will be last, and the last first."  After everyone had come ashore there was a ‘mass’ request for redress and after due consideration by the Protest Committee a Solomon like judgement was made to retrospectively abandon the race and hope to re-sail it tomorrow.

At the end of a long day afloat the day still had more to offer. After the Protest Hearings, by popular request, Jon Emmett ran a master class for a large audience and then followed that up by acting as Draw Master for the Harken prizes and the second Laser sail. He was so tired after all this extra-curricular activity that he had forgotten the name of the winner by the time I caught up with him late into the night.

The championship concludes tomorrow after two final races with the overall prize giving. The event is sponsored by Neil Pryde and Harken UK and the full results can be found on the UKLA website.

Day 6: Friday, 15th August 2014 laser national_2_750 

In a week that started with the aftermath of Hurricane Bertha and then gradually moderated until by Friday there was just enough breeze to allow all four fleets to get in the two races necessary to complete their full racing programme. Only the Radial Gold fleet ‘lost’ a race on Thursday evening. The titles in three of the fleets was not decided until the Friday’s races. Only in the Radial Silver fleet had Hamish Eckstein a comfortable lead over his rivals going into the final day and he further improved his score line by winning both of his races. It was also consistent results on the final day that gave Scotland’s Jack Aitken (R.N.C.Y.C.) the Standard title, Jon Emmett (Weir Wood) the Radial title and Arran Holman (Hollowell) the Laser 4.7 title.

Although numbers in each fleet were down this year it was good to see a strong contingent from Ireland on the water and whilst not taking any of the major prizes they were well represented at the top of each fleet. There were far too many prizes handed out to list them all here but they and all the rest of the results can be found at the UK Laser website under the Results button.

The Association would like to thank the club and all its staff and volunteers for their organisation both on and off the water. This year’s social events were really good. In particular, the sell-out Bar-B-Que and Grand Draw on Thursday evening after a very long day afloat was well worth staying for. Thanks also to Chairman Ken Falcon for acting as PRO and Dot Beadsworth and her team for doing all the admin. Finally but by no means least of all our sincere thanks to NeilPryde for being the Title Sponsors and for committing to next year’s Nationals when the class return to the South Coast, also thanks to Harken UK for staying on board as the Equipment Sponsors. Both these companies’ contributions added to the ‘overall experience’ of the competitors’ week.

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