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Displaying items by tag: Laser

Barton Marine’s Laser dinghy kits have now been approved as class legal for the Laser class, providing an option for sailors looking for lightweight, free-running gear to upgrade their one-design Laser. Extensively tested, sailors across the globe can train and race with confidence given Barton’s proven quality and durability in the dinghy classes.

The Barton Laser range consists of three complete kits for the Outhaul, Downhaul and Kicker as well as Mini K-Cams, Size 0 Blocks and Ratchet Blocks. All of these products are class legal and provide great value after-market upgrades.

Barton’s Kicker Kit’s powerful 15:1 purchase is achieved through clever design of the base plate, fitted with the unique Barton fully swivelling triple cam block. The Outhaul Kit is strong and lightweight, with a simple toggle release for the mainsail clew. The Barton Downhaul Kit comes with 8:1 purchase for those who find the standard system a struggle. The whole kit range is easy to fit and includes high-performance line.

Barton’s Kicker Kit’s powerful 15:1 purchase is achieved through clever design of the base plateBarton’s Kicker Kit’s powerful 15:1 purchase is achieved through clever design of the base plate

Christian Brewer, Barton Marine Global Sales Manager said,“ It’s fantastic that our Kicker, Downhaul and Outhaul kits are now officially approved by The Laser Class. We have been manufacturing replica kits to the class for years and these can now be used at Laser class events. Our Rising Star, Harry Newton is also on board to help us with R&D as we look to further improve our Laser kits.”

Barton is available from CH Marine

Published in CH Marine Chandlery
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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]

A massive breaking wave capsized Ireland's Olympic silver medalist sailor Annalise Murphy yesterday during training in Lanzarote.

As Ireland's only sailor so far nominated for Tokyo, Murphy continues to train with some of her rivals in the Canary Island's this week. The training camp has certainly been getting conditions they can expect in Japan this July at the Tokyo Olympic venue.

Of course, the National Yacht Club ace is well used to such big seas on her own Dublin Bay but she declared on social media that yesterday's Canary capsize was her first-ever experience of a 'backflip' in a Laser.

The footage is certainly dramatic (below).

Murphy, dropped back to fifth overall at the end of the ten race Lanzarote Winter Series Regatta in January, having held second overall in the ILCA 6 fleet until the penultimate day. It was a result that led to an honest review of her first regatta since the Euros in Poland last October.

Published in Annalise Murphy
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The Royal St. George Yacht Club Laser dinghy fleet hit the headlines at the weekend as the class also prepares to release a new video to promote solo sailing at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

2020 was a record season for the Dublin Bay Laser Class, and by all accounts, they’re expecting an even bigger season in 2021.

While continuous sailing has been difficult for all fleets since the start of the pandemic, the single-handed Laser fleet has fared better than most, and as a result, its popularity has surged.

As Afloat reported previously, for the 2020 Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) summer series, the Laser had the highest number of entries compared with any other fleet, with over 90 boats registered. Entries were split across the Standard, Radial and 4.7 rigs with both adult and junior sailors taking part. 

Now the fleet, under class captain Brendan Hughes, is on the promotional trail with a new Royal St. George YC video for the class ready expected for release shortly.

80 Laser sailors are involved at the RStYGYC, according to Hughes, where all year round sailing is on offer. Club boats are also available to rent. 

The video also features interviews with youth sailors Alannah Coakley, Oisin Hughes and the junior class captain at the club, Robbie Walker.

Meanwhile, Irish Times video journalist Enda O'Dowd featured the class prominently at the weekend in a feature around sailing during Covid here but we're not entirely sure how memberships of sailing clubs have "almost doubled" over the last year as claimed but of the rise and rise of the Laser, there is no doubt.

Published in DBSC

The Olympic Games Sailing Qualification system's "what if" scenarios may be called in to play if pandemic related cancellations continue to ravage the high-performance sailing scene.

There are particular implications for the two classes in which Ireland still has reasonable hopes of achieving qualification - the Men's one-person dinghy and the Men's skiff.

Afloat has mulled through the complex paperwork to provide a guide to the qualification system.

Men's one-person dinghy (Laser)

The remaining event for European qualification is the Hyeres regatta in France in April. For Ireland to qualify, an Irish sailor would have to finish in the top two of those European countries that have yet to qualify.

The main contenders for these slots, based on previous form, are Switzerland, Spain, Holland, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Denmark and Poland.

However, should the qualification regatta not go ahead, and there is some doubt as organisers review the attendance quotas in the light of increased French government restrictions, then it is possible that World Sailing will revert to the reallocation list.

Ireland is currently 4th on that list which is based on results at the 2019 Worlds. As there are only two slots available for Europe, Ireland's chances of qualifying this way are slim.

However, there are also two slots available for Asian countries who have not yet held a continental qualifier. Should this event not take place and if World Sailing opts for using the reallocation list, those places are allocated, regardless of continent, according to the stated pecking order, which could benefit Ireland.

Men's Skiff (49er)

Much the same situation exists here. Although the remaining European qualifier (Palma) is cancelled, the European Championship is scheduled for Greece in May and could be substituted as a qualifier.

In this case, Ireland has to be the top of the unqualified European nations to win the remaining slot. The key contenders are Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Estonia and Russia.

In the event that a qualifier can't be sailed, the reallocation list puts Ireland second in line after the USA.

Should World Sailing decide to use this method, then Ireland may have to rely on the Asian and African qualifiers being cancelled also as Ireland's status on the list puts them ahead of the other unqualified nations.

Should any nation that is qualified or has yet to qualify, choose not to take up their slot, then the re-allocation list is used. This is a long shot but is still in play.

Clarification on this process is expected from World Sailing later this week.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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The National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch, Ireland's top hope for an ILCA 7 berth in Tokyo this July, stays sixth overall after six races sailed in a breezy second day of the Lanzarote Winter Series but neither of his Irish teammates competed in today's three tough races in 20-knots and big waves. 

Howth Yacht Club's Ewan McMahon was forced to retire from racing following an eye injury in race four this morning. Exact details are not known but it appears the UCD third-year engineering student was struck by a boom end at a gybe mark in the first race. The injury was bad enough to rule him out of racing for the day but it is understood McMahon is 'ok' and should be able to race tomorrow.

Royal St. George's Tom Higgins also counted three 'DNCs'.

Winds are forecast to be lighter for today's racing.

Results here.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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Ireland's Olympic silver medalist sailor Annalise Murphy returns to action in the Canary Islands this morning, her first regatta since the European Championships in Poland last October.

The only Irish sailor so far qualified for Tokyo 2021 will compete for 14 races (including a medal race) in her boat 'Ricky Bobby'  in the Lanzarote Winter Series til Thursday.

With 25 weeks to Tokyo, the Canarian regatta has attracted a fleet of 45-boats including one or two of Murphy's main rivals for July's Olympic Regatta. The presence of Denmark's 2015 World Champion Anne Marie Rindom, for example, means it is unlikely the National Yacht Club ace will have things entirely her own way.

Murphy is not the only Irish Radial sailor in action on the Spanish archipelago either with Howth Yacht Club teen Eve McMahon entered for the series that sees four races scheduled today.

Irish Laser men in Lanzarote

Some of Ireland's Olympic men's Laser team including the National Yacht Club's Finn Lynch, Howth's Ewan McMahon and Royal St. George's Tom Higgins are also entered but there is no entry in the 48-boat fleet for Ballyholme's Liam Glyn who posted a personal best last October in the Laser Europeans in Poland.

As regular Afloat readers know, the Irish men are in a scramble for one of the last Laser berths for Tokyo that will be decided in Hyeres in April. Ireland is close to the standard required to qualify the nation but at the same time with rivals Spain, Italy, Belgium and Greece all neck and neck, the challenge is clear.

Afloat understands other IRL sailors are on the Spanish Island this week and may yet decide on a last-minute entry, boosting the Irish presence.

No doubt this morning's dinghy park chat will be around the recent denial of the reports that the Tokyo Games are to be cancelled due to COVID. 

As Afloat reported previously, the Irish sailors have not been based at their Dun Laoghaire performance HQ but instead on the continent, winter training in the warmer climes of Portugal and Malta.

All sailors were required to sign a covid declaration for this week's regatta.

The schedule for the ILCA 6 (Radial) & ILCA 7 (Laser) event is: 

  • 4 races (Monday)
  • 4 Races Tuesday
  • 4 Races Wednesday
  • 2 races on Thursday including a medal race
Published in Laser
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2020 was a record season for the Dublin Bay Laser Class, and by all accounts, they’re expecting an even bigger season in 2021.

While continuous sailing has been difficult for all fleets since the start of the pandemic, the single-handed Laser fleet has fared better than most, and as a result, its popularity has surged. For the 2020 Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) summer series, the Laser had the highest number of entries compared with any other fleet, with over 90 boats registered. Entries were split across the Standard, Radial and 4.7 rigs with both adult and junior sailors taking part.

Lasers are proving to be a very versatile boat, especially in these turbulent times. Local active sailors range in age from teenagers as young as 13 right through to adults in their 50s and 60s. The fleet is also very well balanced between female and male sailors with both genders across the ages competing as equals, particularly in the Radial and 4.7 rigs.

"with the constant changes in COVID restrictions, the Laser is providing a more consistent sailing experience"

Local class captain Brendan Hughes explained why there is an expectation of even bigger numbers in 2021; “We’ve seen interest in the fleet continue to grow especially amongst adults. Many of these already sail cruisers but with the constant changes in restrictions, the Laser is providing a more consistent sailing experience. We’re the only large fleet that has been able to get out on the water in nearly all levels of lockdown.”

As a competitive single-hander, Hughes acknowledges that the Laser can be perceived by some as a challenging boat to sail. “In 20 knots, the Laser can be a challenge for sure! However, there has been a lot of effort put into training across Dun Laoghaire. Right throughout the year, there is coaching taking place for beginners and competitive sailors at both junior and adult level.” The increase in coaching availability over the past number of years is acknowledged by many new sailors as being critical in making this class more accessible.

Dublin Bay's new Laser dinghy Class Captain Brendan HughesDublin Bay's new Laser dinghy Class Captain Brendan Hughes

In addition, constant adjustments to racing formats have helped to ensure the Laser fleet remains vibrant. During 2020, the DBSC dinghy race officers introduced Saturday racing in addition to Tuesday evening racing for the Laser fleet. This proved to be extremely popular and the Laser fleet was eager to see this continued in 2021. The club has confirmed that the format will continue for the new season of the AIB DBSC Summer Series with the entry fee covering both Tuesdays and Saturdays for all sailors.

A number of headline events in 2021 taking place in Dublin Bay are expected to drive continued interest from new sailors. The Irish Laser Master Nationals event will be hosted in Dun Laoghaire’s Royal St George Yacht Club from 12th -13th June. This event is open to all sailors over the age of 35 and the organisers expect to have 50+ boats from across the country participate.

A recent survey of local Laser sailors revealed that over 120 boats intend to participate in the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta One Design Championship taking place 2nd - 4th July. “If even two-thirds of that number participate in this new format, it would be the largest one-design fleet on the water at this year’s event, which is very exciting.” says Hughes.

August sees the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) 4.7 World Championship coming to Dublin Bay. Local organisers are expecting several hundred youth sailors from across the globe to participate in this event. This event will be one of the biggest sailing events to take place in Ireland this year and is a great opportunity for our younger sailors to participate on the world stage.

Afloat also hears that planning has begun amongst the Masters fleet to send a delegation to Malta in November. EurILCA, the European Laser organisation is holding its Euro Masters Regatta at Royal Malta Yacht Club from 4th - 7th November.

With a mix of local, national and international Laser events taking place in Dublin Bay this summer, it sounds like another big year for the fleet. More information on Laser sailing in Dun Laoghaire is available by emailing [email protected]

Published in DBSC
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In Japan, public opinion may be divided as to whether this summer’s already postponed Tokyo Olympics should be postponed even further, or indeed completely cancelled. But completely focused athletes such as Laser sailor Ewan McMahon of Howth have no choice other than to keep battling on to see if they and Ireland can secure a place in Tokyo in July, and this week he has been in high-powered action off Malta in some seriously big waves.

The plan is to go on to Lanzarote in the Canaries at the end of the month for more competition, and then there’s further diversion for a challenge on Croatia in the buildup to the final Olympic qualifier in Hyeres in April.

Published in Tokyo 2020
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2018 Laser Grand Master World Champion and 1996 Olympian Mark Lyttle reflects on a lifetime sailing against his old rival and great friend Bill O'Hara, who was awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List 2021.

I first recall Bill at the 1978 Pimm's Irish Lasers Nationals at Lough Ree Yacht Club (actually sailed from Hodson Bay and yes, they did sponsor the Irish Laser class) but it wasn't on the race course. As a 15-year-old sailing what we now call a Standard rig as that's all there was, I was nowhere near the front of the fleet especially as a hurricane passed through during the regatta. But I do remember Bill was the centre of social activities ashore as a young university student.

Over the next couple of seasons, Bill emerged as one of the top Lasers sailors along with Gordon Maguire (turned professional skipper), Dave Cummins (twice all Ireland champion) and Colin Galavan. Following a fifth place in the light air Kinsale Nationals (1979) and the curtailed (with another gale) Dun Laoghaire Nationals (1981), Bill took the Irish titles in Ballyholme (1981 where I recall driving to the event in a Renault 5 with three Lasers) and Galway Bay (1982 with Australian and NZL visitors following us home after our extensive continental European tours).

But I remember the 1982 season as my first Laser Europeans, in Athens, where I stayed with Bill and Simon Brien (Dragon Edinburgh Cup winner from Royal North of Ireland YC) and was supported and encouraged all the way by Bill – a true mentor figure.

Bill sailed a brilliant regatta, coming second overall behind the even more brilliant Peter Vilby, a result that has never been beaten by an Irish Laser (Standard) sailor. Consistent with many other Laser sailors across the world in that era, Bill had to realise his Olympic dreams away from Lasers, in his case in the single-hander Finn class.

Some of the 1982 Irish Laser Class supremos, with their mentor Ron Huthcieson on right, are (left to right) Simon Brien (later multiple Edinburgh Cup winner and other majors), multiple champion Charlie Taylor (still at it in the Laser Masters), Olympian Bill O'Hara, and Dave Cummins, All-Ireland Helmsmans Champion 1981 and 1982Some of the 1982 Irish Laser Class supremos, with their mentor Ron Huthcieson on right, are (left to right) Simon Brien (later multiple Edinburgh Cup winner and other majors), multiple champion Charlie Taylor (still at it in the Laser Masters), Olympian Bill O'Hara, and Dave Cummins, All-Ireland Helmsmans Champion 1981 and 1982

I recall stories of him campaigning the Finn with Terry Nielsen (1982 Laser World Champion and eventual Bronze Medal winner) in 1983 in North America in the build-up to the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

Like many Olympic campaigners he returned for the Laser Worlds in Gulfport, Mississippi in October 1983 along with Frank Glynn, Con Murphy (better known now as Annalise's dad), John Simms and me. Most of us Irish stayed with nuns in a convent nearby but that is not what we most remember of the regatta. It was a no discard 14 race series in which Bill was doing brilliantly until a protest by the Jury for his boom allegedly hitting a NZL boat on his outside at the gybe mark. Both were disqualified and Bill ended the regatta knowing he would have been World Champion but for that.

It is often said that Juries stopped protesting boat on boat incidents because of that.

Bill went on to race at the Olympics and recorded a 4th, 10th, 9th and 8th in the first four of seven races and finished 13th overall in a very competitive fleet with sailing legends Russell Coutts and John Bertrand winning Gold and Silver. But Bill affirmed his status as role model and great supporter of Irish dinghy sailing by returning from the glories of the Olympics to race in the Irish Laser Nationals at the end of that summer.

These days Bill O'Hara is an international race judge and race officerThese days Bill O'Hara is an international race judge and race officer

Of course, he was the man we all strived to beat at that event and subsequent seasons in the Laser (he didn't win that one but did win the Irish title three times in the nineties). I remember many great battles around the race course with Bill often ahead at the windward mark with his superior upwind speed and me trying to overtake him by the leeward mark with my superior downwind speed. Bill continued to combine his Laser and Finn sailing through the 1988 Games in Seoul, where he was joined by Peter Kennedy, the 1986 Irish Laser Champion, as David Wilkin's Flying Dutchman crew.

Afloat's 1983 Laser World's reportAfloat's 1983 Laser World's report from Gulfport, Mississippi

Many of us were envious of that given the limited opportunities to access Olympic sailing in those days but that changed with the introduction of the Laser in the 1996 Olympics. Although Bill started off as a competitor in the search for the single Irish place in Atlanta, he still provided advice and encouragement to me all the way. That is the thing about Bill, a fearsome competitor afloat but a true friend ashore. Nothing supports that more than in the 1994 Irish Laser Nationals when going into the deciding last race where I had a slender lead over Gary McCarthy, I had broken my tiller extension and Bill offered me his with the words "this title needs to be earned not won by default" - sorry Gary. Bill went to the 1996 Games as a coach and provided me with vital advice and encouragement throughout the Games.

Although our interaction has been more social than on the race course in recent years, I look back and say he has been a true motivator and influencer on my sailing journey but more importantly a true friend, which like many friendships based on so many years of shared experiences and the ups and downs of competition, will remain despite the passing of time. Bill is a man who knows loyalty and integrity and I am proud to be his friend. Well done, Bill on your OBE.

Published in Laser
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