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By Ian Baillie
I'm recently back from the Laser Masters, which were held at Pwllheli. This made it almost a home match as it is a mere 6 hours from Edinburgh and not the usual 12 to get to the south coast. I've sailed at Abersoch a few times but never Pwllheli, so it was nice to try somewhere new.
I wasn't too sure how I would get on as I can sometimes go quite fast but not always. I had spent a bit of time sorting out some downwind speed issues with Ian Renilson, the conclusion being that I needed to be more careful with my kicker tension, in particular not letting it off too much on reaches. The practice had gone well and I was hoping I could transfer it to the races.
First race and after a decent start I kept in the middle of the first beat as the wind was a bit shifty. This was just as well as the wind took a shift right, which caused a bit of overstanding and I rounded second. Half way down the reach the guy in front dropped his mainsheet and capsized. It was then I was glad I'd paid attention to the course and not listened to my friends comments about not worrying as we can just follow everyone else. In the end I finished third in that race, then followed with an 8th. The last race was abandoned after the wind died, then shifted but I was pretty pleased with my first day.
Day 2 didn't ever get started. No wind, then rain. When the racing was abandoned the maximum gust according to the club readings was 1.7 knots. But I did manage to check out a few beaches because I'm just about to go back down to Abersoch with the family for a week. Hells Mouth looks the business.
Last day and I sailed my best race. A decent start meant I could tack when I wanted and I was just going fast in the light wind and keeping a clear lane. 3rd at the first mark, dropped a place by the lee mark but I got into a nice rhythm with the shifts and rounded first at the top mark. With a run to the finish the 2 behind split, one low one high. I kept ahead of one but the other slipped past. Still, I know I'd sailed well and was happy.
Strangely I then sailed my worst race, but recovered in the next to get a 6th then a 14th to finish, both of which were hard going as neither of my starts were particularly good.
So 4th overall and 2nd in the Masters category. Better than I could have imagined, so maybe I am faster than I thought and nicer than that, the Scottish fleet is obviously faster than I thought.