Laser Fleet News
Introducing the Laser
The Laser is a single-handed sailboat originally designed in 1970 by Bruce Kirby, a Canadian. With an overall length of 4.2 metres and a lightweight hull made of glass-reinforced plastic, everything about the Laser is conceived for simplicity and transportability.
Yet this fundamentally simple boat has been used as the official Men’s Olympic singlehander since 1996, and the Women’s singlehander since 2008. Over 200,000 boats have now been built, most of which are still in use across 115 different countries.
One of the characteristics that makes the Laser so popular is the fact that, by applying strict building standards, every Laser should be virtually identical. This means that the only variable is the experience and ability of the man, woman, boy or girl at the helm!
Winsford Flash Sailing Club has always sustained a thriving Laser fleet, and this season we even expect to see an ‘ILCA’ joining us! For those unfamiliar with the legal wrangling that has been going on over official builders, Class-legal boats and rights over use of the Laser trademark, suffice it to say that Winsford welcomes all class-legal Lasers, whoever they have been built by, and all ILCA’s (same boat as the Laser, apart from the name) built by any of the new class-approved builders, for example Ovington, Nautivela or Devoti. But for simplicity, we will continue to refer to the boat as a Laser.
In addition to some 20 member-owned boats (that’s 0.01% of the world Laser population, by the way), WFSC also has two club Lasers available for people to borrow for racing or general sailing (a very modest fee applies), and there is a choice of 4.7, Radial or Standard rigs available so the boats can be handled by a very broad range of sailors and abilities.
Lasers at Winsford have the option of launching from one of the jetties, or from the beach, and it is with great delight that we can announce that the beach has been extended so that up to 6 single-handers can launch or recover at the same time.
Every year Winsford Flash S.C. hosts an Open meeting as part of the Laser Northern Area Grand Prix series, where sailors from a wide range of local and not-so-local clubs come and show us how a Laser really should be sailed. For 2021, the Grand Prix meeting is scheduled for Saturday 18th September. The programme is for five races of 30-40 minutes’ duration run back-to-back, with 2 taking place before lunch and 3 after.
All of us who sail Lasers think it’s the best boat around, so why not pop down to the Club and see why Laser sailors always come off the water with a big grin on their faces!
ILCA North Grand Prix Event Report
A record attendance saw 20 boats taking to the water, made up of 17 Home boats and 7 guests, including two Juniors in Radials. Guests travelled to us from Budworth, Dovestone, Ogston, Elton, Delph and Teesside(!). WFSC sailors consisted of Rosemarie Benson, Maggie Harrison, Beth Colbourne, Lucas Sproul, Danny Andersen, Ian Clarke, Frank Lafferty, David Pover, Pete Coop, Ian Coverdale, James Blackford, Tim Bird and yours truly.
We were blessed with glorious sunshine, but a very fickle Southerly wind which rose and dipped with a will of its own. Consequently our Race Officers (the very talented Jon Close and Mandy Mitchell) were forced to abandon their plans for running Windward/Leeward courses, and resorted to a more usual ‘round the cans’ format.
Racing commenced at 11:00am with two short races run back-to-back. All races were run as Handicaps, with all starts under a ‘U’ flag meaning disqualification for any boat venturing into the triangle formed by the Committee Boat, the Pin and the Windward Mark during the last minute before the Starting gun.
After a clean start, the pattern for the day was quickly set: two sailors – Ian Jones from Dovestone and Garry Knott from Ogston - quickly managing to detach themselves from the rest of the group, taking advantage of every wind shift to increase the gap between them and the remainder. However, Peter Coop, temporarily giving up the comforts of the Supernova and dusting off his well-honed Laser skills, remained in close contact and eventually finished every race in third place.
Race 1 was shortened after 28 minutes and the leader (Garry Knott) finished just under 6 minutes later with Ian Jones coming second. Rosemarie Benson was fourth. The remainder of the fleet kept fairly close together, and all had crossed the line within ten minutes of the leader. Race 2 was the shortest of the day, with the winner (Ian Jones) finishing in just over 17 minutes. Garry Knott was second, and Pete Coop only 9 seconds behind him, in third. The last position fell 10 minutes later, in reduced wind pressure.
At 12.30 lunch was served, with huge demand for Kathy’s amazing Shepherd’s Pie and Apple Crumble. Those who realised that Sticky Toffee Pudding was also available were not disappointed either!
Race 3 got underway at 1:15pm, with inclusion of an across-the-lake leg from Inner mark to Outer Mark. This proved to be the longest race of the day, lasting one whole hour for the slowest boats. Ian Jones again took the win, ahead of Garry Knott and Pete Coop. Race 4 followed immediately afterwards, running for 33 minutes, with Jones, Knott and Coop again taking the top three places, and Rosemarie adding another fourth to her tally.
Once Race 4 was over, there was a general feeling that a fifth race would be too much to hope for. The wind was dropping, and the Race Officer fulfilled everybody’s hopes by cancelling the last race, leaving us with four races sailed and one result discardable. Thus ended a day of rather fluky winds which favoured some and penalised others, depending entirely which area of the Flash they happened to be in when the pressure altered.
Results are attached to this email as an Excel sheet, and here I must commend Jon and Mandy for their steadfastness in manually calculating 80 finishing times, and applying handicaps to achieve corrected times and positions. I blame myself entirely for this oversight, because when planning the event, I never gave any consideration whatsoever to how the results were going to be calculated. A Sailwave-loaded laptop was what we needed, and I never made any arrangements to get one, or to have someone keying in results as they happened. Mea culpa! This meant that the evening dragged on a bit as people waited for Prizegiving, but at least the Bar was open!
When it finally came time, the prize lineup was as follows:
Ian Jones Dovestone SC STD 1st and Cup Winner
Garry Knott Ogston SC STD 2nd
Pete Coop WFSC STD 3rd and First Home boat
Rosemarie Benson WFSC STD 4th and 1st Lady; Second Home Boat
Wendy Jones Dovestone SC STD 5th and Second Lady
Sam Ellis Elton SC Radial 13th and First Junior
After prizes were presented everybody applauded the memory of the late Bruce Kirby, designer of the Laser, who died earlier this year, and in whose memory this event was held.
Thanks from all the sailors go (in no particular order) to:
Race officers and scorers Jon Close and Mandy Mitchell
Safety Officer Rick Hough
Photographers Dominic Oakeshott and Pete Chambers
Head Chef Kathy Barnes and sous-chef Stephanie Mill
Prize embroiderer Ros Stevenson
Prize Presenter Jonathan Latham
Bar Steward David Pover
And to everyone else who lent a hand, big or small, to make the event a success.
Sandy Mill, Laser Fleet Captain