Displaying items by tag: Laser
Cork Laser sailors converged in Monkstown on Saturday, February 9th for the fifth day of the Monkstown Laser Frostbite league sponsored by CH Marine.
A cold morning dawned with cloudless blue skies and a light breeze blowing down the bay from the south-west. As motivated as ever, the competitors eagerly took to the Cork Harbour water in their dinghies.
There was commotion on the Sandquay as early as 9:00 am as the sailors prepared their boats for the mornings racing. The forecast of 20 knots was not enough to put off the weather hardened Laser sailors. A beautiful blue sea awaited and in the blink of an eye, all of the competitors had launched their boats.
Race Officer Alan Fehily cast off from Monkstown marina in time for the 10:15 start. A windward/leeward course was set at the entrance to the creek and a start line was set opposite the houses of Alta Terrace.
With no time lost, the start went into sequence. A strong ebb tide swept through the course and the sailors had to work hard to stay behind the line. The gun went and for the first time in the series, the majority of competitors were over the line, forcing a general recall. The second start attempt was successful and the sailors began the first upwind leg. Each competitor picked a path up the course, using the tide and shifty wind to their advantage. It was close racing at the windward mark with MBSC sailors Charles Dwyer, Ronan Kenneally and your correspondent fighting for the top spot. Bateman held his lead over Dwyer and took first place. Dwyer finished in second place, in front of Innascarra sailor James Long who took third.
In the radial fleet, MBSC’s Harry Pritchard finished in first place after holding a comfortable lead for the majority of the race.
The second race was another tough race with the tide getting close to full strength and the wind increased slightly. Dwyer took the lead from the start and stayed just ahead of Kenneally and Long. First, second and third looked secure, but all was not what it seemed. Kenneally capsized in front of the windward mark and Long got stuck on the same mark. This allowed MBSC’s William O’Brien and your correspondent to sail through. Meanwhile, Dwyer extended his lead to take first place. Bateman took second, with O’Brien just behind in third.
In the Radial fleet, Pritchard sailed well to secure first place with another comfortable lead.
Race three saw the wind and tide increase in strength. The sailors struggled to stay behind the line and after two attempts, a black flag was raised. The third attempt was successful and the competitors got away cleanly. Dwyer rounded in first with radial sailor Harry Pritchard just behind. Over the course of the race, Long, Kenneally and your correspondent sailed through. The finish line saw Bateman in first, with Long in second and Kenneally in third.
MBSC’s Harry Pritchard not only took first place in the Radial category, but he also sailed exceptionally well and finished second overall, in front of the majority of the standard fleet.
The Laser sailors returned to shore after having endured tough conditions. The trusty rescue/mark boat returned home, its berth kindly sponsored by Monkstown marina for the duration of the series. The boats were put away, ready to race for next weeks final races.
January was very disappointing with Howth Yacht Club racing held on only one weekend out of four during the month. Hopefully, February will be different as yesterday gave us excellent conditions for Laser racing. 19 boats competed in breeze that varied from 10 to 19 knots, generally from 230. I’m not sure whether it was the match the previous evening, or the break in sailing in January, but there were definitely some rusty sailors this Sunday morning. Tide was a key factor yet again, with a strong ebb pushing boats fast towards the pin end of the starting line. Anyone more than halfway down the line with a minute to go found it hard not to be swept by the pin end. Dan O’Connell sailed an excellent first beat to lead at the top mark, followed very closely by Ronan Wallace and a big group including Daragh Kelleher, Mike Evans, Simon Reville, Conor Costello, Stephen Quinn and Dave Kirwan. The tide was proving tricky with a number of sailors hitting marks, including Kelleher at the first windward. Dan showed impressive speed on the first 2 reaches to extend his lead. Wallace finally got past him though at the bottom of the first run, with Dan hitting the leeward mark. Wallace went on to win, from O’Connell in second and Mike Evans in third. Peter Hassett curtailed Tom Fox’s dominance in the Radial Fleet by taking the first race of the day, but Sophie Kilmartin continued her winning ways in the 4.7.
Two boats were OCS at the start of the second race, Dave Kirwan and Dave Quinn, both of whom were spotted drowning their sorrows in the Aviva stadium the previous evening, so may not have been at their best. Ronan Wallace started conservatively mid-line and tacked off whereas the rest of the fleet went hard left to get out of the tide. This proved to be decisive as most of the leaders significantly overstood the port layline and left Wallace with a big lead at the first mark, which he held to the finish. Dan O’Connell finished second and Daragh Kelleher third, with very little place changing. Tom Fox won the second radial race, with Sophie Kilmartin winning again in the 4.7.
The morning began with a golden sunrise overlooking the eastern end of the bay. Beautiful beams of light reflected on the glassy water but alas not a breath of wind was in the air. A canvas of cloudless blue sky gave no signs of breeze.
Sub Zero temperatures were in store for the competitors. Regardless of the cold, twelve enthusiastic sailors arrived at the Sand quay bright and early to prepare for the mornings racing. Ice ridden covers were separated from the decks and ropes were unstuck from cockpit floors.
One by one the sailors launched into the glassy waters. As the hustle and bustle of rigging diminished, a light breeze filled in from the north-west. Race officer Alan Fehily sprung into action, setting a windward/leeward course off Blackpoint.
The start sequence for the first race began right on time at 10:15 am. The competitors lined up, holding their positions until the gun went. The race began and it was an immediate search for clear breeze. The wind was uncertain, shifting through 30 degrees and occasionally easing away to nothing. The sailors persevered, suffering big gains and losses. MBSC sailors Charles Dwyer and Rob Howe led the race from the windward mark. However, on the first downwind leg the boats behind got hit by a gust of wind and overtook the leaders. For the rest of the race, MBSC’s Ronan Kenneally led the pack, with Paul O’Sullivan and William O’Brien in close pursuit. Local Monkstown sailors William O’Brien and your correspondent overtook Kenneally on the last downwind leg. Bateman finished in first with O’Brien close behind in second. Kenneally finished in third place right behind O’Brien.
In the Radial fleet, MBSC’s Harry Pritchard sailed fast and was heavily contesting the standard fleet. He finished in first place, staying ahead of RCYC’s Sophie Crosbie and Innascarra’s Robert McGarvey.
The competitors had every confidence in the wind for the second race of the day. A settled eight-knot breeze blew down the course. A strong flood tide swept up the bay, giving the sailors cause for concern as they made their way to the windward mark. The competitors were careful to avoid two sizeable container ships passing through the course on each downwind leg. Howe and Bateman led the fleet, holding their positions for the majority of the race. Bateman finished in first, with Howe right behind in second. Sundays Well SC sailor Paul O’Sullivan crossed the line in a close third place.
In the Radial fleet, Harry Pritchard held his lead to finish in first position.
"In a nail-biting finish, your correspondent took first place"
The last race of the day began in a solid ten knots with gusts of up to fifteen. Kenneally led the race from the start and rounded the mark in front of O’Brien and Howe. Kenneally held his lead until the last downwind leg, where he battled it out with Bateman. In a nail-biting finish, your correspondent took first place with Kenneally finishing no less than a metre away. Howe sailed across the finish line to secure third position.
In the Radial fleet, RCYC’s Sophie Crosbie finished in first place, holding off Pritchard and McGarvey for the majority of the race.
Despite the difficult conditions, three successful races were completed. All of the sailors had braved the cold. Arriving ashore, the sailors put their boats to bed and tucked them away on the Sand quay, where they would be taken out once again for next weekend's racing.
"I'm really happy I managed to battle back after a bad day yesterday. I had a really good grasp of the conditions. There were much more chances because the wind was oscillating more and it was less of a one way track!", Lynch told Afloat.ie
The result is all the more impressive given the Rio Olympian went into this week's regatta nursing a neck injury.
With two more days of racing left to sail in what is forecast to be more light and shifty conditions on Biscayne Bay, Lynch, who now counts four top ten results in his scoresheet has the chance to really boost his Tokyo qualification prospects with a solid result in the second round of the World Cup.
"There is no point looking backwards to try hold my position"
"I haven't been top 10 going into the last day of a World Cup before. Which is great! I'm going to try take a page out of Irish Rugby's book and try use attack as defence. There is no point looking backwards to try hold my position", Lynch says.
Ballyholme's Liam Glynn lies 40th in the 101-boat fleet. Overall results are here.
A key component of Laser overall leader Hermann Tomasgaard's (NOR) preparation for the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series Miami involved a week at the Laser Training Center in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Aside from the obvious-tropical mid-winter weather-Tomasgaard went there for the consistently strong winds.
"We had a good group with the British and the Swedish and a lot of hiking, a lot of strong winds," he said. "That's maybe the problem you can have in Europe this time of year, you can have a lot of light winds, You get some strong-wind days, but never really for one and a half weeks."
This regatta, however, has been anything but windy, with just one race that tested the sailors' abdominal muscles. Nonetheless, Tomasgaard clearly found something in the azure Caribbean waters because he has been phenomenally fast and unbelievably consistent in some of the most mentally demanding conditions in a fleet where top-half finishes in the gold fleet are often considered keepers.
With two full-fleet races remaining and then Sunday's Medal Race, Tomasgaard has established a 44-point lead over second place. His worst finish is a sixth. One decent race tomorrow and he will have clinched the gold with two races to spare, a virtually unheard-of feat in the modern Medal-Race format.
"It's been very good," he said. "Sailing is a little up and down all the time, and this week I've had quite a lot of up. I'm just enjoying it right now. I've had moments [like this before], but maybe not for as long as now. Now it's been every race. It's been good."
The conditions today were similar to the previous three days, light and shifty.
"It was difficult, very, very shifty," he said. "Big shifts from both sides. Quite light and big pressure differences as well with the shifts. [Success required managing a] little bit of both. We had a left pressure that was really stationary, that you really had to go into. It was in all the upwinds, almost, that you gained a little bit on that left shift, but it was difficult to know how far into it you had to go."
He also credited a lot of his success to his ability to get off the starting line cleanly.
"I've had good starts, really good starts and I've tried to keep an open mind," he said. "I tried to start where I think it's going to be the best and keep an open mind and change my plan if I see something new coming."
Should his final few races follow this pattern, Tomasgaard will have put together one of the more remarkable scorelines in recent memory. With 18 months until the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is he peaking too early? Tomasgaard doesn't see it that way.
"I've been climbing the last few years in the results, and it's nice to see that the winter trainings are working well," he said. "So I kind of take that, like 'OK, we're on the right track.' Still, it's early in the season, and a lot can change from Miami."
Sam Meech (NZL) is second in the class with 65 points while Rio 2016 gold medalist Tom Burton (AUS) is third and Charlie Buckingham (USA) is fourth.
After two days of shifty qualifying rounds and dealing with a neck injury, the National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch is through to gold fleet racing in the Laser class at the Miami World Sailing Cup as he describes here
Day two in Miami had similar conditions again with 5-11 knots and shifty offshore sailing. It was important to get a good start so that you could sail the shifts you wanted! We spent 6 hours on the water.
I got a 2,19.
First race I was around 15 at mark one and passed boats on each leg to finish an inch behind first. Feels good to sail through the fleet - it shows my speed has improved over the winter.
In the second race, I was pretty bad at the first mark and caught up some boats to get a 19. I'm discarding that now but there is only one discard in the regatta so it would have been nice to get a lower discard out of the qualifying series.
Tomorrow starts a whole different race - World Cup gold fleet racing. It is forecasted 15 knots from the land. So it will be very physical with the Miami choppy waters but also shifty.
You can follow my results on my instagram stories @finnlynchsailing
There was a solid start for both Irish Lasers competing in the first two races of the World Sailing Cup in Miami yesterday. Finn Lynch is sitting in 16th overall and teammate (and rival for the single Tokyo berth) Liam Glynn is lying 23rd.
In fact, Lynch and Glynn managed to sail round the course in both races together. "It was strange to travel to Miami to still be racing beside my team-mate!" Lynch told Afloat.ie
Lynch, who made the top half of the fleet in Miami in 2018, is aiming for improvement this week albeit with a neck injury.
Both races were sailed in 7-12 knots and Lynch caught about 15 places from mark 1 in each race.
The qualifying series concludes today and the forecast is light and shifty again on Biscayne Bay.
After nearly a month of training and competition on the Bay, many of the top sailors competing in the 2019 Hempel World Cup Series Miami have seen just about every wind condition Miami has to offer.
But that doesn't make it any easier to race when the breeze is out of the west, a direction notorious for lower velocity and little consistency when it comes to the wind direction.
"The wind was constantly shifting to the right [side of the course]," says 49er skipper Sime Fantela (CRO), "but the pressure was staying left, so it was not an easy decision where to sail. The ones who managed to tack when they wanted and have their line, they were winning."
Fantela speaks from first-hand experience. With a 3-13-2, Fantela, who sails with his younger brother Mihovil as a crew, emerged relatively unscathed from the opening day of the regatta and will carry a three-point lead over Diego Botín le Chever and Iago López Marra (ESP) in second and a seven-point advantage over James Peters and Fynn Sterritt (GBR) in third.
Of the three races today, Sime Fantela was most pleased with the second one. The short course format used by the 49er class made passing a challenge.
"The start was not that great, and we managed to come back," he says. "We rounded [the first mark] I think in 23rd and managed to finish around 12 to 15. It's quite tough with 40 boats on the start and the racecourse was a short course so not so many clear lanes. You have to dig your way through."
Like the Fantela brothers, the team of Botín le Chever and López Marra also struggled in the second race, finishing 16th. But a win in the first race and a fourth in the final one more than balanced that one hiccup.
"Try to make a good start and then see what's going on and try to catch the best shift," said López Marra when asked about the key to a strong race today. "The seabreeze and the gradient wind [were fighting one another] and that's why it was so shifty."
As Spain was unable to qualify for a country berth in the 49er class at last summer's Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, the top priority for Botín le Chever and López Marra is to earn that berth this year at the world championships in New Zealand at the end of the year.
That's one box that has been ticked by Sime and Mihovil Fantela. They are the defending world champions after a breakout performance in Aarhus and have punched their ticket to Tokyo. However, as they are relatively new to the class-Sime won a gold medal in the 470 in Rio 2016 while Mihovil sailed in the RS:X class until 2016-they are not letting that success go to their heads.
"We still have the same goal, the same focus, the same will to train and improve," said Sime Fantela. "We missed some strong wind training [last year] so we're trying to look this season for the strong wind places to go and train. Lots of training, lots of days out of home and looking forward to Tokyo."
The 30-boat 49erFX fleet followed the 49ers later on in the afternoon and in a shifting and variable breeze, just one race could be completed.
Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR) found some form and led the race from the top mark through to the finish. Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) and Germany's defending champions Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz (GER) followed.
American favourites Stu McNay and Dave Hughes avoided any major pitfalls on the water and stand in third place, of 37 boats, after two races in the Men's 470.
"We rolled a third and a fifth today," says McNay. "We did the big picture things right, but made a couple small errors. We did lose a couple of points. Dave and I have been sailing for a long time, we've raced in Miami for years. It's a challenging venue, so we're always glad when we walk away from a shifty day like this with scores we can carry forward."
For Hughes, this regatta as close to a home event as he'll ever get, something he tries not to take for granted.
"This is always a lovely event and always kind of the way to start the year for us," he says. "I live in Miami, so it's got a special meaning for that. It's a bit of an added stress because it is a home event and we are always looking to be proper hosts to everybody who comes here, off the water, at least. But it's wonderful because all of our international friends come to our home. It's a treat and for us this is just a staple of our sailing and our Olympic careers."
With a seventh at last summer's Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, McNay and Hughes qualified for the United States for the berth in the Men's 470 class at the Tokyo 2020 regatta. Now they are focused on making sure they are the team to claim that berth. They've been down this road before, having sailed together in the Rio 2016 regatta - McNay sailed with a different partner in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 - but that doesn't make it easy.
"We're trying not to be distracted, trying to keep our priorities in line," says McNay. "Not let one piece of equipment become distracting, not let one detail of a skill become distracting. Give our prioritization to each item, as it deserves, as it will help us most, which is a challenge because perspective is the easiest thing to lose when your head is this deep in something."
Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström (SWE) hold the early advantage in the Men's 470 on five points. They are two points clear of Italy's Giacomo Ferrari and Giulio Calabrò and a further point ahead of the Americans.
The Italians took the first race win of the day and Japan's fifth-placed team of Tetsuya Isozaki and Akira Takayanagi sealed the second.
Among the fleets that got in two or more races, only the Women's 470 duo of Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Jolanta Zohar (POL) had a perfect day, winning both races. They trailed around just two of 12 marks and currently have a six-point lead over Fabienne Oster and Anastasiya Winkel (GER) and a nine-point advantage over Benedetta di Salle and Alessandra Dubbini (ITA).
Spain's Angel Granda-Roque and China's Bing Ye are tied on nine points apiece in the Men's RS:X after a tough day on the water. In light winds the sailors had to pump their sails hard to take the initiative. Granda-Roque took an eighth and a first with Ye securing a fifth and a fourth. The first victory of the event went to France's Thomas Goyard but a blackflag in the second pushed him down to 29th overall.
Just one race was possible in the Women's RS:X and China's Yunxiu Lu took the win. She was followed by Italy's Flavia Tartaglini and Israel's Yarden Isaak.
Brazil's Samuel Albrecht and Gabriela Nicolino de Sa shone in the Nacra 17, snapping up two out of three victories. The pair thrived in the 7-9 knot breeze on the Echo racing area and discard the seventh they picked up in race two.
2018 Miami gold medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) took the day's other race win and are tied with Spain's Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets (ESP) for second on five points.
London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Jonathan Lobert (FRA) picked up the single race win in the 25-boat Finn fleet. The towering Frenchman fought hard against Croatia's Josip Olujic throughout the race and the momentum swung back and forth. Lobert held the lead early on in the race but the Croatian hit back to claim it at the midway point. Lobert advanced on the final run and took the race win by just two seconds.
The Laser fleet is the largest in Miami with 101 boats registered to race. As a result, the first two days of competition are qualifying races before the top sailors move into the gold fleet to decide who qualifies for Sunday's Medal Race.
The top-ranked sailors were all aiming to get off to good starts and they did exactly that. In the yellow fleet, Rio 2016 bronze medallist Sam Meech (NZL) and World Cup Final medallist Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) took a race win apiece with another single-digit finish. Meech leads on three points with the Norwegian second on four. Matt Wearn (AUS) posted a 5-4 in the yellow fleet and is third.
In the blue fleet, consistency was at a premium. Joaquin Blanco (ESP) and Elliot Merceron (GBR) were the top performers and are fourth and fifth overall. Blue fleet victories went to William de Smet (BEL) who is 22nd and the 18th placed Yuri Hummel (NED).
The Laser Radial class was able to get in just a single race, which was won by Dongshuang Zhang (CHN) with Zoe Thomson (AUS) in second and Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) in third.
Racing resumes on Wednesday 30 January at 10:30 local time. The fleets who were unable to complete a full schedule of racing on Tuesday will sail an additional race, minus the Men's and Women's RS:X.
Results are here
Tokyo Olympic Laser trialist Finn Lynch goes into the second round of the Sailing World Cup nursing a neck injury sustained in training earlier this month but the National Yacht Club ace says he is ready to race on Biscayne Bay today
The week after Christmas myself and the Irish Sailing team went to Cadiz, Spain for a fitness camp.
I cycled just under 500km in the week after and spent quite a bit of time in the gym and the pool.
Unfortunately, on the 4th of January, I strained my neck in the gym and have been managing the injury since. I'm over the hump now but still have some pain.
As Afloat.ie reported yesterday, I've been in Miami for a week now - managing my workload nicely and feel ready for the racing today. There are three races today and two days of qualifying. I started this World Cup Series with a 17th in Japan in September. I was racing very well but not starting as well as I can! I'm looking forward to getting underway on Biscayne Bay!
I'm here with coach Vasilij Žbogar and Liam Glynn is sailing the Laser too.
The National Yacht Club's Laser sailor Finn Lynch is the only Irish Olympic trialist for Tokyo 2020 competing in tomorrow's 2019 World Cup Series Miami, held out of Coconut Grove from 29 to 3 February. The first big event of 2019 will see nine defending champions return to Biscayne Bay determined to defend their titles.
2019 marks the 30th edition of an Olympic sailing regatta in Miami and, with 650 sailors from 60 nations registered to race across ten events, it’s expected to be another strong year of competition.
Lynch, who has yet to make the country standard for Tokyo will be aiming to beat his own past achievements in Florida. Last January proved a tough but valuable testing ground for the then 21–year–old, who won gold at the 2014 U19 World Championships. Lynch ended up 32nd in his 70–boat fleet overall after nine races sailed.
Of the 2018 Miami gold medallists, Giles Scott (GBR) is the only athlete not competing this year. Across the ten events, there are 34 Olympic medallists racing alongside numerous World and World Cup podium finishers, and the best sailors will be vying for a World Cup medal as the race to Tokyo 2020 continues.
Australia’s Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin will come into Miami as favourites in the Nacra 17 after securing gold at the first round of the Hempel World Cup Series in Enoshima, Japan last September.
Waterhouse and Darmanin overthrew Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti (ITA) in the Medal Race to claim a hard-earned title - but exactly one year ago, the competition was slightly less stressful for the Aussies. Racing on the Biscayne Bay waters in 2018, Waterhouse and Darmanin controlled the fleet all week long and simply needed to finish the Medal Race to secure gold. They did that with ease and are back to defend their title.
Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza Saroli (ARG) and Thomas Zajac and Barbara Matz (AUT) joined them on the podium in 2018 and also return this year.
Further contenders in the 31-boat Nacra 17 fleet include Samuel Albrecht and Gabriela Nicolino de Sá (BRA), Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets (ESP), John Gimson and Anna Burnet (GBR) and Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee (USA).
Racing is scheduled to commence on Tuesday 29 January and run through to Sunday 3 February. More on the event site here
The third day of the Monkstown Laser league was a story worth telling. The skies appeared at daybreak revealing black clouds scuttering at tremendous speed across Cork Harbour. Halyards were slapping against the masts and white horses were beginning to form in the bay. A windy day was in store for the competitors.
An ominous forecast showed winds gusting up to 37 knots. With the forecast in mind, the sailors arrived at the Sand Quay in time for a short briefing held at 9:30 am. Deciding the conditions were manageable, the toughened sailors enthusiastically rigged their lasers. The howling wind threatened to blow the boats over but this did not stop the sailors from launching into the wild conditions on Monkstown Bay.
"The howling wind threatened to blow the boats over but this did not stop the sailors from launching into the wild conditions"
Race Officer Alan Fehily called for a windward/leeward course situated at the entrance of Monkstown creek. The residents of Alta Terrace had a view of the sailors battling their way out to the course to be on time for the 10:15 start.
Some sailors stayed ashore having decided the conditions were too rough; this left eight sailors fighting for position on the start line for the first race. The competitors got off the line cleanly and began the first beat to the windward mark. It was a hard fought battle between MBSC sailors Ronan Kenneally, and series leader Charles Dwyer. Kenneally held his lead for the majority of the race all the while getting heavily contested by Dwyer. Kenneally crossed the finish line, securing first. Dwyer finished close behind. MBSC’s Chris Bateman finished third.
In the radial fleet, Robert McGarvey of Innascarra Sailing Club was the only radial sailor to brave the conditions. This saw him take first place, while still contesting the standard rig sailors.
The second race was no less difficult with the tide beginning to strengthen. The sailors had to pick their path carefully for the first upwind leg. The first to round the windward mark was MBSC’s William O’Brien. Fending off MBSC’s Brendan Dwyer and Chris Bateman, he held onto his lead for the first downwind leg. A tight battle on the final lap saw Ronan Kenneally slip through, to contest with O’Brien and Dwyer. The first to finish was Bateman and in second place was Kenneally. Brendan Dwyer took third position.
Sailing the radial rig, Robert McGarvey was mixing it in with the standard fleet.
The third and final race of the day was a race that the sailors will never forget. The race was started quickly and the sailors got off the line cleanly. It was a close fight between Charles Dwyer, Ronan Kenneally and Rob Howe. The wind began to increase and the leading sailors were the first to notice. All of a sudden the wind strengthened even more. Gusts of thirty knots were blowing across the water, lifting the spray off the tops of the waves. Masts were bent double, and the lasers were flying downwind with their sailors hanging on for their lives. Kenneally attempted a gybe, immediately capsizing and letting Howe through. Heavy weather specialist Charles Dwyer blasted away from the fleet, his boat throwing several feet of spray into the air. The leeward mark saw gusts of thirty-five knots hitting the Lasers. It was a race of survival, and the sailors were doing everything that could be done to stay upright. Charles Dwyer took first place, having held a comfortable lead. In second place was Rob Howe. In third place was Ronan Kenneally, having recovered his position well.
"The leeward mark saw gusts of thirty-five knots hitting the Lasers"
With a feeling of relief, the sailors went ashore. Sandwiches and hot drinks were waiting in the Bosun for the competitors where they could relax after a hard day's work.
The International Laser Class says it has no plans to replace or remove any of its existing classes in response to recent media speculation on the future direction of the Olympic class boat plus a statement on social media from builder Laser Performance that it will introduce the ARC in May 2019, 'a contemporary racing rig and sail for Laser and Laser Radial that broadens the sailor weight range and increases overall performance'.
The Laser dinghy is the world and Ireland’s most popular and competitive boat with a vibrant scene across Ireland, attracting sailors across a wide age range. For example, 70 Lasers are entered for the DMYC Frostbite Series at Dun Laoghaire this month with other leagues currently underway in Cork and Howth.
In a statement, the ILCA says it is aware that photos and videos of some developmental rigs for use with the Laser hull as well as portions of a recent media release from Laser Performance have led to quite a bit of questioning, speculation, and information (as well as misinformation) swirling around the internet.
ILCA would like to share with our members the class perspective on some of these matters.
First, ILCA has no plans to replace or remove any of our existing classes. The 4.7, Radial and Standard classes will continue as always with controlled, incremental evolution and development aimed at improving longevity, increasing the ease of use and reducing the cost of ownership.
Second, any new rigs that are in development are not proposed for inclusion in the Olympic reevaluation or sea trials. It is the existing Standard and Radial rigs that ILCA is working to have retained for the Olympic Games. The one proposed change at this time is a new composite Radial lower mast that is in development with an introduction planned so as not to conflict with the 2020 Olympics. The composite Radial lower mast is intended to eliminate any permanent bending issues seen in some aluminum masts and therefore reduce the cost of owning, maintaining and racing the Laser Radial.
Third, consistent with ILCA’s past practice, any new rigs for the Laser hull will only become class legal equipment after thorough testing and widespread evaluation in conjunction with the ILCA Technical Officer, the ILCA Technical and Measurement Committee and with the approval of World Sailing.
As background to our current situation, there have been various development projects for alternate rigs for the Laser hull for decades. Indeed, both the Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 rigs were developed at different times to extend the range of sailors who could enjoyably sail and compete on a Laser hull. Those classes rose from an experimental introduction to become very successful worldwide one-design racing classes, with the Laser Radial eventually being selected as Olympic equipment for the women’s one-person dinghy event beginning in 2008.
Four years ago, Performance Sailcraft Australia brought to the ILCA World Council information and video about new rig ideas they were working on in conjunction with some local sailing enthusiasts. They had gone through several design and testing iterations and felt they had something that showed promise. That concept was then brought to the World Council to see whether there might be any interest from the ILCA in furthering or adopting such a rig for use on the “Laser” hull. The World Council thought the idea had potential and encouraged further development. It was thought that a rig of this type might particularly appeal to the group of sailors that were transitioning out of the Optimist.
While many young sailors in Europe transition from the Optimist directly into the 4.7 rig, in other parts of the world this does not occur as regularly and we see sailors migrate into other classes, or try to jump directly into the Radial, which can be a difficult transition if the sailors are not yet physically capable of handling the rig in the prevailing conditions. Worse yet, many young people simply quit sailing if they find there is no suitable boat past the Optimist available.
With this context, the ILCA World Council therefore determined it worthwhile to see if a new rig could be developed that would facilitate a smoother transition from the Optimist into the Laser family. It was also believed that a new rig might potentially serve as a viable racing platform for smaller adults, for whom the Radial is too large and where the 4.7 hasn’t gained traction as a racing class.
Initial tests of this new rig (with the working name “C5”) have been positive and development has now reached the point where it would be useful to deploy a reasonable number of sample rigs “into the field” as a test to see how they perform in racing conditions in active fleets. The goal would be to get some feedback on the viability of the rig in competition and any difficulties or problems that might potentially arise so that these issues could be addressed before any kind of official adoption by the class. Performance Sailcraft Japan, which has long been championing the idea of a way to make the Laser more viable for lighter weight sailors, has stepped up to serve as the lead builder on the introduction of the “C5” test rigs.
It should be noted that this whole project predates by quite some time the current Olympic reevaluation process and is NOT a response to the announcement of sea trials or the review of the Laser as Olympic Equipment. As stated previously, it is the existing Standard and Radial rigs that ILCA is working to have retained for the Olympics. The only thing new for the Laser Olympic classes at this stage is the proposed addition of a composite Radial lower mast. It should also be noted that all the builders, including Laser Performance, and Performance Sailcraft Japan, were in attendance at the relevant World Council and Technical Committee meetings over the past four years and have been fully aware of the “C5” development project.
In addition to discussions about the “C5” project at the ILCA World Council meeting in November 2018, an announcement was made by Laser Performance that they had recently begun working on their own new rig for use with the Laser hull. They indicated that the project was not yet to the point where they could share information about the design but wanted to keep the class apprised that there was an ongoing development project. It was explained that more detailed information would be provided if or when the project looked viable and that the rig (or rigs) could be used effectively on the Laser hull. It now appears that Laser Performance is calling their new rig the “ARC.” Depending on the progress of the ARC rig, ILCA may be able to evaluate both the ARC and the C5 approaches before moving forward with the process of adopting a new rig as class legal equipment.
So, although there are several designs currently being developed by different builders, ILCA’s intention for adopting any new rig would be to attract a group of sailors to the “Laser” family that we are currently not capturing. Of course, we recognize that there will be future development on these projects and ILCA will continue to monitor and work with all builders as we have in the past.
"it is a sailor’s ability, and not the amount of money spent on equipment, that determines who wins a race"
Obviously, ILCA can’t say whether any of these new rigs would ultimately prove to be successful. Success or failure would be up to the sailors – who could decide whether or not to purchase rigs and sail in a new class or choose one of the three existing classes (Standard, Radial, 4.7). To be certain, IF the class adopts such a rig, ILCA would work to ensure a strict one-design approach is maintained so that, as always, it is a sailor’s ability, and not the amount of money spent on equipment, that determines who wins a race.
Finally, ILCA fully understands and appreciates that perhaps the best feature of sailing a Laser is the opportunity to race one-design, at low cost, in large fleets, with a high level of sailing skill. This is what we strive to maintain for our members and what we will continue to focus on as a class association.