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First laser events
The last two weekends I have been taking part in the second two Laser radial qualifier weekends, my first two events competing against other Radials not from one of my home clubs.
Two weekends ago was my first event. Being at Stokes Bay, my home club, I was hoping I would have a bit of an advantage over some of the fleet but after finishing the weekend in 65th I wasn't quite so sure. Despite a result a bit further back from the front of the fleet than I would have hoped, I loved the weekend and it was great to experience the step up in competition from Toppers.
Last weekend was the final spring qualifier at Weymouth. My aim was to improve on my result from Stokes Bay, so that’s what I set out to do….
The first race started well, in a nice 16-23knots of breeze, by the final top mark I was in the top half of the fleet, exactly where I was aiming to be. Unfortunately after hitting the mark I had to do turns… Despite sailing a Laser for more than 6 months now, I am still not quite used to the extreme flexibility needed to get under the boom when there is lots of kicker on. Whilst doing my turns, trying to get under a low boom, I hit my tooth on the deck and chipped half of it off, very sore and a little distracting, putting me back into 59th, out of 75. Another reason to remember to let the kicker off before doing turns. During the long sail back to the start line I almost considered retiring for the day but with some great sailing conditions, and what had started off as a good first race, a sore tooth was merely a small distraction.
By the second race the wind had picked up a bit. From the first race I had decided that the right side of the course had more pressure, but with the shifts that were coming through it wasn't worth getting near any corners. I decided to head right but concentrate on the compass numbers. The line was slightly port bias but with the pressure on the right and a much easier start at the starboard end, I concentrated on getting clean air and taking the lifts. After tacking almost immediately off the line, to my surprise the majority of the fleet seemed to be heading left. After taking the next few shifts, by the time I was in the top third of the course I could tell I was doing better than any of my previous races before. To my great surprise I found myself rounding the windward mark in the top 20. In the remaining legs I made up a few more places and finished the race in 13th, my best result ever!
For the 3rd race the conditions were mostly unchanged, so once again I started slightly to the starboard end of the line and headed right. After such a great result in the last race I knew that I could do well and was keen to improve again. By the top mark I was in 3rd place and feeling amazing. Unfortunately my downwind wave technique simply wasn’t a match for the top guys; I lost a few places, but by the end of the second upwind leg I was back into 8th place, and I managed to hold it until the end of the race.
After discarding the first race I was placed 13th overnight, and went to bed excited for the next day’s racing.
Unfortunately with light and shifty winds on the second day, after an hour sailing to the racecourse and a number of hours waiting around, racing was abandoned for the rest of the day and we were sent home.
Finishing the weekend in 13th place was awesome, but competing against some of my sailing heroes on equal terms was even better, and it’s what Laser sailing is all about. I’m already looking forward to my next event, the youth nationals in just over a weeks’ time now. It’s going to be my first event I’m going to on my own, so it’s going to be a new experience, but hopefully a good one.