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Lasers at Loch Earn
By Ian Baillie
After having used my old Laser for a bit of club sailing this season, I decided to go to the last of the Scottish Travellers for a bit of a laugh and hopefully persuade some of my club mates to start getting round the circuit. And what a great weekend sailing it was, with loads of wind and tight racing.
I had never lost contact with the Scottish Laser fleet so it was nice to race in the fleet again, although when I counted, I realised it was 18 years since I last sailed a Laser regatta. And during a chat with Radial sailor Callum Tait, we realised that was a year before he was even born.
So I found out that I was still pretty quick downwind but not going too well upwind, which meant that I could catch up the distance I had lost to the leaders by the bottom mark, just to have them open up again upwind.
I began to figure it out by Sunday and I think I was sailing it too much like the RS300, leaning off on the telltails and not pinching. Now this works very well in the 300, where you can get the boat onto a marginal plane and do wonders for your vmg but not in the Laser. So I'll need to get practising my pinch techniques. This is where getting onto the racing circuit really makes a huge difference as I didn't realise I had much of an issue upwind, I thought it was downwind where I wasn't going very well, but all it takes is to sail against better Laser sailors and your faults can be brought into sharp relief. You can then form your improvement plan, get in a bit of practise, hopefully sail better next time and enjoy your sailing even more.
So a huge thanks to Pete, Niel, Sandy and the rest for a great regatta and of course to Loch Earn Sailing Club, who put on an excellent event and were as always extremely friendly.
All this fun was had in my 28 year old Laser that I picked up for a few hundred pounds last winter, although I have updated the rig bought a decent sail. So you don't need the newest gear to get travelling, just the encouragement to get out there and join in. I certainly intend doing a few more Laser event next year, I think I'll choose the ones with the biggest waves.
And I have to mention that the leading young Radial sailors sailed round up to a minute quicker than the leading full rigs in the 20+ knots of Saturday. I was very impressed.