by James Gray
Laser - Paul Goodison (GBR)
Skandia TeamGBR’s Paul Goodison and training partner Nick Thompson were both on the water at Pwllheli SC, as were all the other main contenders for the second of the Laser Spring Qualifier series for the World and European events in 2008. And in the end the event went to Goodison with Thompson second and Mark Powell third.
Race 1 got underway in an oscillating Southwesterly force 3 breeze. The leaders emerged from the pin end of the start line having tacked onto the first shift after the start. Olympic representative, Paul Goodison, made a quick start holding a sizeable lead onto the first reach. A nice swell had developed allowing for good overtaking opportunities if the sailors kept their boats surfing for as long as possible.
Nick Thompson managed to pop out of the chasing pack and closed the gap on Goodison, taking a slightly better route on the second beat. Goodison took won, Thompson 2nd, Mark Powell 3rd, Welsh local Eifion Mon 4th, and James Gray 5th.
By Race 2 the breeze had died slightly and the tide turned pushing the fleet over the start line. After a few general recalls under black flag the fleet got under way after heavily congesting the pin end of the start line. Max Holloway led from Thompson and the chasing pack including Eifion Mon, Mike Simms, and Dom Breen-Turner.
The pack jostled for position amongst the variable breeze and shifting conditions, with Thompson over taking Holloway to take 1st place. Holloway recorded an impressive 2nd. Dom Breen-Turner held on for 3rd just ahead of Mike Simms, who sailed a consistent race finishing 4th and Rob Godwin finished 5th.
By race 3 the wind had died providing a testing 5-7 knot breeze. The key to this race was to hold onto your front lane enabling clear air and free tactical choice. The fleet split, some including Goodison and Thompson starting at the Starboard end whilst the other contenders at the Port end.
The breeze filled in from the left leaving Max Holloway taking a massive 20 boat length lead onto the downwind legs. Whilst Holloway headed for what seemed a certain victory the sailors on the right of the course who had managed to get back into contention made their chase.
Amongst the chasing group was Goodison, Dan Belben, and Youth sailor Alex Mills-Barton, all attempting to chase down Holloway for the victory. Goodison caught Holloway at the final gybe mark to clinch first, whilst Max had to settle for his second consecutive 2nd place. Belben finished third ahead of Mills-Barton and Thompson in fourth and fifth respectively.
The first race on Sunday morning, race 4, eventually got under way after waiting an hour for the breeze to fill in. The race started in a dying 10 knot breeze. The leaders emerged having taken the shifts up the middle of the racecourse. The top reach turned into a run after the breeze had faded to roughly 4 knots. The fleet split right and left trying to obtain some breeze to leapfrog the fleet.
Powell led the race whilst trying to keep between the rest of the fleet and the marks that the fleet headed towards. The breeze filled in on the second beat following its shortening. In the patchy conditions Belben managed to overtake Powell at the gybe to the finish clinching first. Powell took second, Goodison third, youth sailor Ian McKeeman fourth, and Alex Ekstrom, who sailed an impressive race, finished fifth.
For the final race the breeze started to build. The majority of the fleet fought for the starboard end of the start line. A left shift on the beat shook up the standings after the fleet had tacked early onto port tack. Thompson and Powell were amongst the leaders at the top mark closely chased by Eifion Mon, George Cooper, Mike Simms, and Goodison.
Thompson had a closely fought battle with Goodison but held on for the victory. Goodison took second followed by Powell in third. Gray got the better of Eifion Mon and Cooper on the second beat following a left hand shift taking fourth, just ahead of Mon who was in hot pursuit on the reaching legs.
Laser - Leading Overall Results:
1st Paul Goodison, 5pts
2nd Nick Thompson, 9pts
3rd Mark Powell, 17pts
4th Dan Belben, 18pts
5th Max Holloway, 25pts
1st Master, Steve Harper
1st Youth, Eifon Mon
1st Silver fleet, Ross Harvey
1st Bronze fleet, Stuart Bilhell