#laser – National Champion Christopher Penney discusses his preparations for the recent Irish Laser Nationals at Royal Cork Yacht Club, and Colin Leonard, Irish Laser Association Honorary Treasurer, (and sixth at the Nationals) discusses the classes profile in Ireland.
Preparation for the event started in September 2012 after a relatively poor finish to the season in the Irish nationals. I identified fitness as my biggest weakness and getting up to optimum weight was my biggest priority. Over the winter I worked on this in the gym and gained the 4 kilograms I needed to be competitive.
Due to my coaching role with RYA NI most of my weekends were occupied coaching the up and coming laser sailors in Northern Ireland therefore I didn't get as much time in my Laser as I hoped. Not that I am complaining, coaching is very rewarding work and I enjoy every minute of it! Although I lacked hours on the water my mind was always engaged on the sport and coaching actually helped develop tactics, strategy and other important aspects of the sport.
In the lead up to the Nationals I competed in all 4 provincial championships. I finished fourth in the first two events of the season the Munsters in Baltimore and the Ulsters in Carlingford Lough Yacht Club. I went on to win the Leinster championships held in Wexford and the Connacht championships held in Lough Ree. This was a great confidence boost going into the nationals.
The Laser class has had a strong presence in Ireland since the beginnings of the class, with many Irish sailors also competing at the front of international competition. A trend continued today by the likes of Annalise Murphy, Finn Lynch, Robbie Gilmore and Fionn Lyden in the Radials, whilst James Espey represented Ireland in the Standard Rig at London 2012.
Closer to home the class has gone from strength to strength, and the decision for the Laser Radial to be both the boys and girls ISAF youth class has seen ever increasing numbers at our four regional events and over 150 competitors in Cork for the national championships. There are also many parents coming back to the class to join their children on the water. There is a Masters championship for these hardy characters to focus on their own results rather than keeping an eye on their children, and enjoy a more relaxed social event with their friends!
The recent European and World Championships at the National Yacht Club were a huge success, with athletes from all over the world praising the race management and logistics of the clubs. This publicity reflects well on Irish sailing as a whole and brings laser sailing in Ireland to the fore. Anyone wishing to try a laser should go to www.laser-ireland.com where contact details for regional representatives and committee members can be found, all of whom will happily point you in the direction of a club nearby for you or your family to join the biggest one design class in the world!