Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Dún Laoghaire Harbour Laser Dinghy Fleet Launches Adult Pathway

13th February 2021
Laser 'kindegarten' briefing at the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour Laser 'kindegarten' briefing at the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour Credit: Rachel Crowley

With the continued interest in Laser dinghy sailing among adults, the Dún Laoghaire harbour Laser fleet has announced the launch of an adult pathway that supports adults from beginner level right up to elite racing.

The Laser with all its variants has long been considered one of the most versatile single-handed dinghies for both adults and juniors. The boat was originally designed with what is now known as the Standard rig as a “car-topper” with the intention that it would be easy to transport on the roof-rack of a car. Today in Dún Laoghaire, adults continue to sail the Standard rig, plus the smaller Radial and 4.7 rigs, depending on the individual sailor’s weight and ability. “The Laser can be a challenging boat to sail and what’s remarkable is that many of these adults never sailed before or if they did, never sailed a Laser,” says local Laser sailor Rachel Crowley.

Crowley was nominated in the Volunteer of the Year category in this year’s Irish Sailing Awards for her work with the affectionately named Dún Laoghaire Adult Kindergarten for Lasers. A member of the Royal St. George Yacht Club, she only started sailing cruisers as an adult, never having sailed before. She crewed for a few years in Cruisers 3 in Dublin Bay Sailing Club and recalls how one “evangelical Laser sailor” encouraged her to try Laser sailing after racing one evening.

Lasers launchingDue to the popularity of the Kindergarten, the coaching squad has divided the group into two levels. Absolute beginners can join the Basic Skills sessions while the more confident beginners join in with the Start Racing sessions Photo: Rachel Crowley

Rachel approached the Sailing Manager in her club who provided her with access to a club boat and found a coach who was willing to take her out the first time. “Ronan [Adams] was really helpful in making it easy for me to try the boat as I was a bit nervous. When I came in after that first day, he said to me that there were a lot of other adults expressing interest in trying out the Laser.” says Crowley. And thus the Kindergarten started to take shape.

That was September 2018, just after the Laser Masters World Championships came to Dún Laoghaire. Today there are 49 adults in the Kindergarten group with more waiting to join once Government restrictions allow. The group is organised out of the RSGYC club, but sailors participate from right across the Dún Laoghaire clubs and from the Coal Harbour. Due to the popularity of the Kindergarten, the coaching squad has divided the group into two levels. Absolute beginners can join the Basic Skills sessions while the more confident beginners join in with the Start Racing sessions.

Crowley outlines how a typical coaching session in the group starts with an onshore briefing at the club followed by some on-the-water warm-up exercises. “These are followed by specific skills instruction and practice. The session usually finishes some fun activities and a debrief onshore again.” Richard O’Rahilly who leads the coaching team describes how coaching adults can be different to coaching juniors. “Adults are usually looking for more specific skills training. They’re less competitive than juniors typically and ask for lots of feedback on how they can improve. We spend as much time as possible on the water as adults are looking for hands-on experience” says O’Rahilly.

Mick Shelley who joined the Kindergarten group in 2019 highlights how the support received from more experienced Laser sailors has impressed him greatly. “I hadn’t sailed a Laser before, and the support and encouragement I received from people up the fleet was great. There were days when I was nervous about heading out in heavier conditions and some tips or advice that someone would give me on the forecourt gave me the confidence to push myself a little more.” says Shelley. He went on to say “getting out on the water after many years out of the sport has given me a new lease of life”

Crowley agrees that the support from the experienced sailors has been “phenomenal”. “We have experienced Laser sailors who not only support us ashore, but have helped us organising fun racing for our group and even finding second-hand boats to buy.” Crowley also acknowledges the continued support provided by the local clubs, encouraging adults to try Laser sailing specifically and also facilitating access to boats, coaches and safety ribs.

Crowley intends to tap into the willingness of the more experienced sailors at this year’s Irish Laser Association Masters National Championship event which is slated to be hosted by RSGYC on the weekend of June 12/13. “We’re launching a buddy system at the Masters Nationals where a more experienced sailor will be paired off with a beginner sailor and support them over the two days of the event. It will be simple things like offering advice and encouragement before racing and checking in at the end of the day to see how they got on.”

Laser training at the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Rachel CrowleyLaser training at the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire Harbour Photo: Rachel Crowley

The Dún Laoghaire adult pathway doesn’t stop with the Kindergarten. While many sailors are happy to remain within the Kindergarten group for the fun and camaraderie, the coaches encourage those who are ready to get involved with the Masters Race Training sessions that take place right throughout the year. These sessions are focused on adult sailors who aspire to compete at the top end of the fleet nationally. Here the coaches, who are all top Laser sailors, focus on fine-tuning race strategy and boat handling skills.

In addition, a number of elite racing clinics are held each year with top Irish and international coaches drawn in. Irish and Olympic athletes such as Finn Lynch and Aisling Keller have run weekend-long clinics over the past couple of years. The fleet also has connections with the high-performance Laser training centres in Malta and Viana, Portugal. In 2020, the fleet intends to send a delegation to the Europa Cup regatta taking place in Malta in November.

The message from the Dún Laoghaire Laser fleet is that no matter what level you are at, there’s a support framework in place from local sailors, coaches and clubs to help you access and enjoy this boat. Anyone looking to find out more about sailing Lasers in Dún Laoghaire is encouraged to contact the class directly via email: [email protected]

Afloat.ie Team

About The Author

Afloat.ie Team

Email The Author

Afloat.ie is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

At A Glance – Laser Dinghy Specifications

Designer Bruce Kirby & Ian Bruce

Year 1969

Crew 1
Draft 0.787 m (2 ft 7.0 in)
Hull weight 58.97 kg (130.0 lb)
LOA 4.2 m (13 ft 9 in)
LWL 3.81 m (12 ft 6 in)
Beam 1.39 m (4 ft 7 in)
Mainsail area 7.06 m2 (76.0 sq ft)

Racing D-PN 91.1 RYA PN 1088 PHRF 217

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating