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The National Yacht Club's Mark Lyttle is within two races of World Grand Masters title on his home waters of Dun Laoghaire after another solid performance at the Laser Master World Championships today.

The host nation hopes of a major result continue to rest on the Atlanta ’96 Olympian competing in the Standard Grand Master event that has the largest turnout of over 60 boats. The NYC sailor repeated his previous day’s performance with a fourth and a third place that keeps him in first overall with a six-point advantage.

The 55-year-old has been in top form this season winning the British Master Nationals with six firsts in June and finishing third in the Irish Nationals overall a fortnight ago. 

Full results are here

With just two races remaining in a testing Laser Masters World Championships sponsored by DLR, light breeze relief after six days of fresh winds could yet up-end many of the overall leads in the various classes competing on Dublin Bay.

Today’s racing (Friday 14th September 2018) saw generally light to moderate winds averaging about 12 knots but with plenty of stronger gusts.

Lasers Dublin BayLasers round a leeward in the second of Friday's races Photo: Neil Colin

At face value, at least half of the 14 divisions have undisputed leaders that appear certain to win world titles after Saturday’s 12th race. But following a week of fresher winds, there may yet be an upset to the standings and much hinges on the two final races.

However, there is little to doubt the mastery of seven overall leaders, most of whom are counting consecutive race wins and podium placings.

Saturday's final race will also count as the "Bart's Bash" attempt to be the largest sailing event in 24 hours at multiple locations in aid of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

Sweden’s Tomas Nordqvist delivered a strong challenge to Lyttle’s prospects with two wins for the day and in the process, overtook Spain’s Carlos Martinez who dropped back to third overall. Fourth placed Arnoud Hummel of The Netherland’s is also in the frame for a podium finish just three points off second place.

Amongst the Standerd rig Apprentice Masters, the week-long duel between Spain’s Leandro Rosado and Canada’s Gord Welsh is also down to the wire with both boats tied on 18-points apiece. The Irish battle for third place saw Howth Yacht Club’s David Quinn take over the place with three points separating him from Roger O’Gorman and Pete Smyth.

A drop in form for Bill Symes of the United States with a tenth and 20th in the 37-boat Radial Great Grand Master class might otherwise have done more damage to his prospects but for his main rival, Sweden’s Lasse Wastesson who didn’t fare much better and the American has a 20-point cushion going into the final day.

Of the divisions almost assured of no change to the leaderboard, the machine-like delivery of race wins even after a week of demanding conditions afloat continues to impress fellow-competitors and race followers alike.

Standard Master class - Brett Beyer of Australia, two more wins means an emphatic 20-point lead. Similarly, Standard Great Grand Master - Germany’s Wolfgang Gerz with two more wins for a 15-point lead. A third place then a win for New Zealand’s Scott Leith in the Radial Master class leaves him on the cusp of an eleventh world championship title. Two second places for Britain’s Stephen Cockerill still won him the day amongst the 58-strong Radial Grand Master class with a 20-point lead.

Britain’s Ben Elvin surely has the six-boat Radial Apprentice class won after two more wins today while Peter Seidenberg of the United States repeated his Thursday form with a third place and a race win to maintain his grip on the Radial Legends class.

Full results are here

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Anticipation is quietly building for the host nation as Atlanta1996 veteran Mark Lyttle held his overnight lead of the Grand Masters class Standard rig at the Laser Masters World Championships following a steady day with a third and fourth result on Dublin Bay. The Irish Olympian’s home club is the National YC, the co-organiser of the championships with the neighbouring Royal St. George YC.

And in the Apprentice Master class, Ireland’s Damian Maloney, Pete Smyth and David Quinn delivered a first, second, third line-up for the eighth race.

Following a well-earned rest day, the 301-boat Laser Masters World Championships fleet returned to a breezy Bay today where class leaders, for the most part, held their leads with just four races remaining in the event.

Brett Beyer from Australia won his sixth race of the Master class series but then appeared to falter in the second race of the day when he appeared in the high teens at the first mark. But after a playing a series of wind shifts perfectly over the next lap of the course, he finished in second place and extended his lead to an impressive 23 point advantage.

Sweden’s Niklas Edler delivered a 2-1 result for the day that dislodged Australian David Whait from second overall though only after the tie-break. Just four points separate second to fourth places.

Leaving his slightly off-pace start to the championships well behind him, Germany's Wolfgang Gerz won his sixth consecutive race win for the 15-boat Standard rig Great Grand Master class and has 13-point cushion going into the penultimate day.

New Zealander Scott Leith remained on course to add the 2018 championships to his tally of ten world titles with another two bullets in the Radial Master class today. Britain’s Ian Jones had a 2-3 result for the day and trails in second place by 15 points.

Bill Symes of the United States has the Radial Great Grand Master class in a vice-like grip after another two bullets for the day and now enjoys a 22-point lead of this 37-strong division. His countryman Peter Seidenberg in the Legends division (ages 75 and over) also has a firm grip on his class after a win and third places for the day.

Amongst the other divisions in the event, Solent sailor Ben Elvin discarded a second place in the final race of the day to count only race wins amongst the six-strong Radial Apprentice class so far. Another British competitor, Stephen Cockerill continues his lead in the Radial Grand Masters despite a rare appearance outside of first place with a seventh in race eight.

The forecast for remaining two days is set to continue the pattern of 15 knot average winds with gusts to over 20 knots accompanied by the dreaded shifts that have caught most of the sailors out at various stages of the series.

However, while earlier forecasts suggested a storm might affect Saturday's final, it now appears that the strong winds and rain won't reach Dun Laoghaire until nightfall meaning the full schedule of 12 races is likely to be sailed including the final race that counts towards the "Bart's Bash" attempt to be the largest sailing event in 24 hours at multiple locations in aid of the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.

Full results are here

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The third day of racing saw the National Yacht Club's Mark Lyttle break into the overall lead of the Standard Grand Master class after winning both races today at the Laser Masters World Championships at Dun Laoghaire.

Conditions on Dublin Bay were again breezy though lacked the large wind-shifts of the earlier races.

As the 302-strong fleet prepares for a well-earned rest day on Wednesday nine of the Standard and Radial rig divisions have comfortable overall leaders.

Australian Brett Beyer leads the Laser Masters divisionAustralian Brett Beyer leads the Laser Masters division off Dun Laoghaire Photo:

Australian Brett Beyer extended his overall leading margin in the Standard Master class to 12 points over fellow Aussie David What as the pair again top the 60-boat division that is increasingly becoming a contest for a runner-up podium place.

Laser Masters 1635Part of the massive 302-boat Laser Masters fleet go afloat from the National Yacht Club Photo:

Italy’s Marco Sorgassi, racing under Irish colours for his adopted home venue reckoned the day was typical for Dublin Bay with strong gusts and plenty of subtle windshifts. “It definitely wasn’t as physical as the opening day but playing the shifts required complete concentration,” said the Radial Master currently in eleventh overall. “We’re looking forward to the rest day to mentally prepare for Thursday!”

Britain’s Stephen Cockerill dispelled any doubts after Tuesday's uncharacteristic 16th place by again winning both races of the 58-boat Radial Grand Masters division to continue his overall lead. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Scott Leith added his fourth race win of the series in the 28-strong Radial Master class where he now enjoys a 10-point lead over Robert Hallawell of the United States.

The run of leading boats continued in the Radial Great Grand Masters where Bill Symes of the United States also won both races in his 37-strong fleet. Fellow American Peter Seidenberg in the Legends fleet for 75 years and over in the Radial class had a Black Flag disqualification in Race 5 discarded so he is still only counting race wins with a healthy ten-point lead.

Amongst the host nation boats, apart from Lyttle’s performance in the Standard Grand Masters, six Irish boats are in the top ten ten and vying for a podium result in the Standard Apprentice class. While Canada’s Good Welsh has been duelling with Spain’s Leandro Rosado for first and second places since Sunday, Roger O’Gorman from Cork is holding third overall in the 14-boat division but with five more tricolours bearing down on him.

All results here

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The National Yacht Club's Mark Lyttle discarded a 19th place scored in the fourth race of the series this afternoon to lie sixth overall in the Grand Masters division of the Laser Masters World Championships on Dublin Bay. 

Next best to Lyttle is Belfast Lough's John Simms in 25th with Royal Irish Yacht club's Justin Maguire 26th. Grand Master results are here.

In the Radial Master division, Sean Craig of the host port lies fifth. See Radial results here.

Adding two further race wins to his tally, Australia’s Brett Beyer continued to dominate the Standard rig Master class.  Royal Cork's Nick Walsh is best of the Irish here in 20th place.

Despite a shifting breeze that gusted from ten to over 20 knots at times, Beyer’s bid to defend his 2017 title showed no loss of his opening day form as he sailed in clear air ahead of his nearest challengers in the 60-boat class.

Elsewhere in the 302-strong event, the Grand Masters class proved that age is no barrier to Sailing’s naughty-step with no fewer than 14 Black Flag disqualifications after the opening race of the day required five general recalls with racing delayed more than an hour.

The fleet is also grappling with the biggest Spring tides of the year with a strong ebb flow adding to the challenge of the fresh to strong winds.

Despite receiving one of the Black Flag disqualifications, Sweden’s Tomas Nordqvist remains atop the Grand Master class after the weighty penalty was dropped when the discard came into play.

Amongst the Great Grand Masters, two wins for Germany’s Wolfgang Gerz keeps him ahead of Australia’s Mark Bathwaite by two points. And two wins for Canada's Gord Welsh sees him ahead on tie-break with Spain's Leandro Rosado for the Laser Standard apprentice class.

Australia’s Scott Leith added two further wins in the Radial Master class while in the Grand Masters, Britain’s Stephen Cockerill leads this 57-strong division by five points after a mixed day afloat.

“It was a pretty tough day out there,” Cockerill admitted afterwards. “If you played the middle it was deadly. I rounded the first mark in 40th place and it was a fight to get back up the fleet (eventually to 16th for the first race). The plan for the regatta has to be at the top mark in the top few boats.”

Marking his debut year in the Grand Master division, Cockerill went on to score his third win of the series in the second race of the day and remains ahead of Australia’s James Mitchell.

After two days of 20 knot westerly winds, Tuesday’s forecast offers the prospect of another testing day ahead of Wednesday’s welcome break in the schedule. Ironically, the conditions are expected to ease off for the day before building steadily towards a gale by Saturday evening.

Full results are here

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1996 Olympian Mark Lyttle of the National Yacht Club had a promising start to the Laser Masters World Championships at Dun Laoghaire today. In the Grand Master event, Lyttle (55) finished seventh overall for the day. In the Master series, Nick Walsh lies 12th overall while Pete Smyth was third in the Standard Apprentice division. Shirley Gilmore in the Radial Master was 23rd overall and fourth woman overall in her class.

Dublin Bay served up a robust opening day to the Championships organised by the Royal St. George and National Yacht Clubs. 302 entries from 25 countries nevertheless enjoyed the planned race programme of two races.

Defying winds gusting from 20 to 27 knots, Australia’s Brett Beyer in the Standard Master class, Britain’s Stephen Cockerill in Radial Grand Master and Bill Symes in the Great Grand Masters along Peter Seidenberg in the Legends event - both of the United States - all scored two wins each.

Full results here

Monday’s second day is also expected to have similar or perhaps stronger conditions to test the eight divisions racing under Standard and Radial rigs.

Yet Beyer, Cockerill and Symes hardly have runaway leads at such as early stage of the regatta and each has a hunting pack close behind.

The Standard Grand Master class has Australia’s David Whaite tied for second place with Canada’s Ray Davies and Britain’s Orlando Gledhill just a point behind them in their 60-strong class.

Similarly, in the Radial Grand Master Class, Sweden’s Gustaf Svensson is second overall with just two points separating him from fifth place.

Sunday’s opener came as a surprise for some competitors after two days of near calm and drizzle; the westerly wind produced a tricky day with frequent shifts in the gusts that led to plenty of capsizes and one or two minor injuries.

A rest day is planned for Wednesday when lighter breezes are currently forecast to arrive.

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Lasers Masters do not grow old as those who stay ashore or go into keelboats grow old. On the contrary, they’re Tir na nOg afloat. It’s the Land of the Ever-Young out on the sea. And the prospect of the 300-plus Laser Masters fleet from 25 countries evokes these visions as they begin their annual Worlds at Dun Laoghaire today (Saturday) with the practice race for an extraordinary week of senior sport writes W M Nixon.

The Laser at just under 14ft in length is arguably the greatest boat design in the world. Created from a doodle in a flash of inspiration during a phone call in 1970 between Canadian designer Bruce Kirby (noted at the time for his International 14s) and the late Ian Bruce (also a Canadian), the Laser is the only boat to have both Olympic status and universal popularity. In addition to its lofty Olympic recognition, it is sailed and raced regularly by club sportsmen and women worldwide for sheer sport and fun, and it acquires lifelong adherents whose continuing joy in this wonderful little boat is honoured through the annual Laser Masters.

That said, they set the initial bar for a plain ordinary Master quite low by putting it age 45. I mean, honestly – 45? The great Dennis Conner himself reckons he was at his ace best as a helmsman at the age of 45. But then, he was racing International 12 Metres to America’s Cup success at the time, with a great big ballast keel under the boat to keep her upright. It’s so different from the
Laser’s total reliance on crew weight kept athletically in the right place – often with strenuous physical effort - to do the job. 

laser masters croatia2A major event in the International Calendar, this is the Laser Masters World Championship at Split in Croatia in September 2017

Certainly, it’s difficult to imagine The Dennis in a Laser, though doubtless it has happened. But even so, having accepted the Laser’s need for physical ability, we note that the Powers-that-Be in Laserdom make entry into this magical world of Masters sailing even more painless by having an Apprentice Master category of 35-44, while the actual Masters are 45 to 54.

And then it gets exciting with Grand Masters from 55 to 64, and Great Grand Masters above 65. You might think that was enough of a good thing, but they’ve a category beyond the GGMs of 75+, the Legends, with 14 of them in Dun Laoghaire. And beyond that, there are keen Laser sailors in their 80s regularly competing at clubs worldwide. Denis O’Sullivan of Monkstown Bay SC on Cork Harbour is one of them - he was at the 2017 Worlds in Croatia last September when it was still summer, and he’s on Dublin Bay now when we can only hope it will be summer again.

denis osullivan3Denis O’Sullivan, Ireland’s most senior representative at 80 ++, is seen (above) at the Apres Sailing while (below) he races on the waters of Croatia in 2017

denis osullivan4

As there are significant US and Canadian contingents in Dun Laoghaire, the views of the North American Laser Class Association are of interest in putting it in perspective:

“Master’s sailing is for ‘seasoned’ sailors… It is still the competitive racing that you remember, but recognises that while your mind is still young, your body might not still be there anymore with the 20-somethings.

“At the highly competitive but very fun World Championships, you race against competitors only in your age division, while at National level, the Masters typically race as one fleet but score in their age divisions.

“The racing, both in age divisions and overall, is extremely close on the water. Off the water, the emphasis is on having a great time with all of your fellow-Masters sailing friends.”

A key player in the drive by Paul Keane (RIYC) to get the Masters Worlds to Dun Laoghaire is Sean Craig (Helmsmans Champion of Ireland in 1993) of RStGYC, and back in January here on he introduced us to this mature but vibrant world of Laser Mastering well into one’s eighties after we’d reported on the great 92-year-old Gordon Ingate winning the Australian International Dragon Nationals in January 2018.

sean craig and salver5Sean Craig with the Helmsmans Championship Salver in 1993 (above), and racing in the Laser Masters Worlds in Croatia last September (below)

sean craig croatia6

Winning races at 92 is completely off the scale. But here again, the Dragon has a fine big keel hung under her and the Laser doesn’t. So Sean quite rightly reckoned the senior Laser sailors deserved their place in the limelight, and revealed the story of the Irish contingent who had been at the Masters Worlds at Split in Croatia back in September, and we headed it: “Sailing is a Sport for Youth of all Ages”, a happy notion first enshrined by Gary MacMahon of the Ilen Network in Limerick.

laser masters croatia7The “Irish & Associated” squad in Croatia last September were (left to right) Niall Peelo, Paul Keane, Kevin Currier, Nick Walsh, Denis O’Sullivan, Ed Rice and Theo Lyttle with Sean Craig in foreground
Handling a large fleet of “Youth of All Ages” is demanding enough at the best of times, but in addition to the age group divisions, the fleet in Dun Laoghaire is almost exactly halved between Standard Rig (159 boats) and Radial (142 boats) providing yet another administrative challenge for Organising Committee Chairman David Kelly and his team of many volunteers, dealing with competitors from 25 different countries in a massive joint venture between the Royal St George YC, the National YC, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company and the International Laser Class Association supported by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

300 sailors from 25 Nations on Dublin Bay



Age Bracket



75+ Yrs

Great Grand Master


65+ Yrs

Grand Master


55>64 Yrs



45>54 Yrs



35>44 Yrs




The simple tabulation of the basic top results from 2017 gives some idea of the administrative challenge, and the international emphasis:

2017 Final Standings (top 3 in each fleet)

Standard Apprentice:
1. Maciej Grabowski POL 6pts
2. Maxim Semerkhanov RUS14pts
3. Adonis Bougiouris GRE 15pts

Standard Master:
1. Brett Beyer AUS 12pts
2. Peter Hurley USA 16pts
3. Emesto Rodriguez USA 25pts

Standard Grand Master:
1. Allan Clark CAN 11pts
2. Andy Roy CAN 20pts
3. Tomas Nordqvist SWE 21pts

Standard Great Grand Master:
1. Michael Nissen GER 9pts
2. Mark Bethwaite AUS 10pts
3. John Pitman NZL 16pts

Radial Apprentice:
1. Jon Emmett GBR 6pts
2. Anastasia Chernova RUS 17pts
3. Noel Bayard FRA 24pts

Radial Master:
1. Alessio Marinelli ITA 10pts
2. Scott Leith NZL 17pts
3. Wilmar Groenendijk NED 34pts

Radial Grand Master:
1. Martin White AUS 20pts
2. Pierantonio Masotto ITA 27pts
3. Terry Scutcher GBR 36pts

Radial Great Grand Master & 75+:
1. Bill Symes USA 12pts
2. Robert Lowndes AUS 23pts
3. Kerry Waraker AUS 27pts

Women’s Radial Apprentice:
1. Anastasia Chernova RUS 17pts
2. Georgia Chimona GRE 30pts
3. Paula Marino URU 31pts

Women’s Radial Master:
1. Giovanna Lenci ITA 53pts
2. Michelle Bain NZL 78pts
3. Monica Wilson USA 84pts

Women’s Radial Grand Master:
1. Lyndall Patterson AUS 90pts
2. Vanessa Dudley AUS 117pts
3. Anne Loren SWE 238pts

Women’s Great Grand Master & 75+:
1. Hilary Thomas GBR 255pts
2. Gill Waiting NZL 258pts
3. Deirdre Webster CAN 293pts

Add in the challenge of deriving such a set of meaningful results from a big fleet event staged in the sometimes wayward weather of Dublin Bay in early Autumn, and you begin to get the complete picture of what the organisers face. But with all this generously-given effort, are we going to get a result which will bring some medalware the way of the Irish sailors?

Certainly, there are some home talents in the “Irish & Associated” category who haven’t raced the Masters Worlds before who might make those final inches to the podium, the Holy Grail which in some cases only very narrowly eluded 2017’s squad.

Apart from former Laser National Champions, our Irish group of Damian Maloney, Gavan Murphy, Roger O’Gorman, Ross O’Leary, David Quinn, Pete Smyth, Kevin Currier, Michael Delaney, Mark Kennedy, Francis Kennedy, Mark Lyttle, Theo Lyttle, Alan McNab, Dan O’Connell, Ed Rice, Ian Symington, Nick Walsh, Chris Arrowsmith, Marc Coakley, Conor Costello, Justin Maguire, Gary O’Hare, Conor O’Leary. John Simms, Paul Siffe, Richard Tate, Charlie Taylor, Thomas Chaix, Darrell Reamsbottom, Sean Craig, Shirley Gilmore, Troy Hopkins, Brendan Hughes, John Sisk, Marco Sorgassi, Paul Ebrill, Ian Magowan, Chris Boyd and Denis O’Sullivan includes a clutch of Helmsmans Championship winners and stars from other classes, and with the many categories over which they’re spread, there’s surely a prize somewhere. 

brett bayer8Brett Bayer of Australia, defending champion in 2018 at the premier division of Standard Masters

Any prizes will be hard-won, as the competition at the premier level – the Standard Masters – includes defending champion Brett Bayer of Australia, Olympic coach and multiple past winner. But with this World Championship more than any other, it’s ultimately all about people. The back-story of the people taking part for the next seven days is quite something. Out of the woodwork, for instance, comes Chris Arrowsmith, Helmsman’s Champion of Ireland (as it was called then) in 1979. And from the north comes Chris Boyd, yacht designer/builder, and creator of – among other craft – the enduring Puppeteer 22. These days, his sailing is for sport and recreation, with his main base at Ballyholme.

Meanwhile, the success-garlanded Grand Master Mark Lyttle – originally from Dun Laoghaire and with the National YC still listed as one of his clubs – has been London-based since 1998. Nowadays he’s Hiberno-British, but in 1996 he represented Ireland in the Atlanta Olympics racing Lasers (he came 11th, and had a race win) and became's inaugural Sailor of the Year, while on the home front he was Helmsman’s Champion in 1986, 1987 and 1991 during an outstanding progress through Irish sailing which started with Optimists and soared on through Lasers, 470s, J/24s and 1720s.

After a successful period in the more cerebral areas of industry in London – he was six years with Accenture, then started his own IT business - he has focused on Sports Science. This has been done though further third-level education, and giving enormous amounts of his time to voluntary work in other sports areas such as swimming and fencing – he has been brought in as an outsider to be Chair of British Fencing - with additional interests in sports technology, while also somehow being Chairman of the British Optimist Association for three years.

Mark Lyttle RacingMark Lyttle in Laser training for the 1996 Olympics at Atlanta, the first time the class was used in the Sailing Olympics Photo: David O'Brien/

He is active in more voluntary and advisory bodies than you’d think possible, while his sailing home base is Queen Mary Reservoir in South London, created in 1970 from a joint venture by the River Thames-based clubs which were seeking a sailing space where the winds might be more reliable than in the narrow and very urban setting of their river.

The timely advent of the Laser in 1973 had seen the new Queen Mary Sailing Club move on to new levels of success, and while he has sailed other boats, the Laser in which Mark Lyttle achieved so much remains his special boat. So much so, in fact, that he won the British Masters back in June (having just qualified at 55 as a Grand Master), and then a fortnight ago he came back to Ireland to race the Laser Nationals on Lough Derg as part of his build-up to the Worlds, taking third overall with current Olympic hopeful young Liam Glynn of Ballyholme (definitely not currently a Laser Master in any age sense) being overall winner.

Despite his many years with the class, Mark Lyttle continues to adore the Laser and will be racing his eighth boat of the marque in Dun Laoghaire. Being fit is part of his nature, but nevertheless, he acknowledges that Laser sailing at 55 imposes a new perspective, and in each series, he now subscribes to that mantra which is the code for so many senior Laser sailors – TAKE IT ONE RACE AT A TIME.

An intriguing character in the show is Doug Peckover of Texas, who first won the Laser World Masters in 1997 and has been right in the frame many times since, and is now a GGM, but gallantly racing a Standard (full rig) boat. Sailing development and coaching is Doug’s thing, particularly in North America where his coaching and opinions are highly valued.

Despite sight difficulties which have latterly been improved, he continues Laser sailing and racing with as much zest as ever, as he does with the living of life in general. His recent arrival in Ireland in the countdown to the worlds saw images being posted of Doug and newbie Grand Master Chris Henkel (also USA) beginning the experience by savouring the classic Irish breakfast of the very full fry-up accompanied by strong tea and the obligatory pint of Guinness – is there any other way to start the day?

chris and doug10Athletes in training….American Master Chris Henkel and Grand Master Doug Peckover, the renowned Texan sailing guru, absorbing some of the local culture on their arrival in Ireland.

chris doug breakfast11Is there any other way to start the day properly? The full Irish accompanied by the essential cup of Barry’s tea and the optional pint of Guinness

Another stellar presence is Mark Bethwaite of Australia, who turned 70 back in March, having taken second in the GGM (Standard) division in Croatia last September to make it ten wins in various categories of the LGM over the years. Scion of a clan which has been in the forefront of sailing development for decades, Mark sailed for Australia in the 1972 and 1976 Olympics in the Flying Dutchman, his brother Nicky was a fellow Olympian, and another member of this remarkable family is Julian Bethwaite, who developed the 49er skiff and is reputedly doing some very interesting work in the next stage of what a state-of-the-art single-hander for 2020 – the Laser of the future? - might be like.

mark bethwaite12Mark Bethwaite of Australia on his way to winning the 2016 Great Grand Masters at Vallatarta in Mexico

But for most of those in Dun Laoghaire for this very special gathering, the wonderful Laser in the pure form is more than enough to be going on with. She is as she is. She is one of their secrets of eternal youth, the basis for their very special sense of community and camaraderie and life lived as it should be. The Laser is irreplaceable.

lasers return to dl13Post-race camaraderie envelopes the Lasers as they return to base at the Royal St George and National Yacht Clubs in Dun Laoghaire. Photo O’Brien

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A star-studded fleet of 301 competitors from 25 countries will begin competition on Dublin Bay tomorrow as the annual Laser Masters World Championships sponsored by DLR gets underway. Olympians, multiple world champions and local talent will contest the seven-day event that is co-hosted by the Royal St. George YC and National YC.

The field of men and women is spread across five divisions plus Standard and Radial rigs and is grouped by age ranges: Apprentice age 35 and over; Master age 45 and over; Grand-Master age 55 and over; Great Grand-master age 65 and over; Legend age 75 and over.

Britain and United States have the largest numbers entered but other countries such as Japan and Argentina as well as many European nations are also represented.

Australian Brett Bayer, an Olympic coach and multiple past winner will defend his 2017 title in the Masters division where some of the most intense racing is expected. Of the host nation, Nick Walsh and Dan O’Connell are arguably the strongest contenders at this level.

In the Grand Masters event, Britain's Tim Law is on form along with Canada's Andy Roy, the North American class President.

Ireland's 1996 Olympian Mark Lyttle of the National YC will also be competing, fresh from placing third overall at the Irish championships two weeks ago in addition to his recent British Masters title win in June. Lyttle is racing under his adoptive GBR colours and along with Sean Craig and Shirley Gilmore of the co-hosting Royal St. George Yacht Club, the trio is expected to lead the local interest for the championships.

Amongst the Great Grand Masters, two-times Australian Olympian Mark Bethwaite will be racing and aiming to better his 2017 result when he missed out on first place by a single point. In the Radial Masters fleet, New Zealand's Scott Leith is a six-times World Champion and must be a favourite for 2018.

Ireland's Denis O'Sullivan from Cork is one of the dozen Legends taking part having competed in multiple previous events.

In the Standard Apprentice fleet, David Hillmyer from the United States has sailed on Dublin Bay before and could easily challenge a very strong Irish contingent that includes Dave Quinn, Pete Smyth and Roger O’Gorman.

After Saturday's practice race and opening ceremony, racing begins in earnest on Sunday afternoon with a continuous fleet series concluding on Saturday 15th September.

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There are some great deals to be had on new and ex-charter Laser dinghies from leading Irish chandlery CH Marine.

Right now you could have an ex-charter for €6,490 (£5,776.10) VAT inclusive ahead of the Laser Masters coming to Dun Laoghaire in September.

Also available is the all new Laser standard dinghy with XD rid and a composite upper for €7,190 (£6.399.10).

All come with a trolley, top cover and foil bag plus new lines, sail, carbon tiller and extension, XD vang and outcall package.

Keep an eye on these and other great deals from CH Marine, which currently has Jabsco bronze electro-magnetic clutch pumps at special low prices.

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Aisling Keller made her home club Lough Derg Yacht Club proud by winning the Laser National Championships over four days sailing, winning six out of nine races, as reported earlier here.

Con Murphy, the International Race Officer in charge of the event, had a challenging time getting nine races in over the four days, with Saturday having to be cancelled due to lack of wind.

Aisling, who came to sailing on the lake through the schools sailing programme, started by Liam Maloney, then headmaster of Carrig NS, rose through the ranks very quickly, as did her brother Eoin who also won this event in 2011 in LDYC.

Aisling, who hopes to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, is heading to Tokyo next week to take part in the World Cup, followed by Olympic Week also at the same venue. She is a carded athlete for 2018 as a result of her under–21 European Championship second-place result and hopes to retain her funding in 2019.

Below LDYC supporters at Dromineer carry Aisling from Lough Derg following her national championships win on Sunday:

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The Laser Radial Youth Worlds wrapped up on Saturday in Kiel, Germany with the stand out performance coming from Tom Higgins of the RStGYC finishing in 7th overall in the 269 strong boys fleet and narrowly missing out on the first under 17 overall title, finishing in the runner-up position.

The 11–strong Irish contingent gained valuable international experience with many top ten race positions including race wins from Clare Gorman NYC, Jack Fahy and Henry Higgins both RStGYC.

A long winter on the water, in the gym and on the bike now awaits the top laser youth sailors, before international competition commences again in the Spring.

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