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UKLA Noble Marine Laser Qualifier at Hayling Island Sailing Club

by Guy Noble 30 Oct 2019 11:45 PDT 26-27 October 2019

UKLA Noble Marine World & European Qualifier & Laser Masters Event & UKLA Sailingfast Youth Series Event 4

UKLA made a good decision to cancel racing on the Saturday but couldn't have foreseen what eventually unfolded. Fridays forecast predicted 25 to 40 Knts and it duly delivered - anyone familiar with Hayling Island knows negotiating the entrance of Chichester Harbour can be challenging at the best of times with enormous rollers appearing from nowhere never mind in an on shore gale.

As England's victory over New Zealand sunk in competitors arrived during the course of Saturday to register but it was left to Neil Peters a.k.a. Stick Daring to provide the entertainment on Saturday night with an illustrated talk on his recent circumnavigation of mainland UK in a Laser. Anyone who is lucky enough to know Neil would have realised that this talk would be both entertaining and informative. However it became apparent that his adventure was just as much of an emotional roller coaster as it was trial of endurance and fortitude. Neil has raised over £20,000 for prostate cancer charities and hundreds of pounds for the Aberdeenshire Sailing Trust who get kids from poor backgrounds sailing - his description of their work provided a particularly emotional point in the evening. Check out their website if you would like to help: www.aberdeenshiresailing.org

This event was the last in the 2019 season's open qualifiers but also doubled as one of the series of Masters events. In the Standard fleet everyone raced together which provided a decent size fleet of 40 boats - including 17 Masters or maybe 18... more of this in a moment. Not all the top Master sailors were in action but those hungry to race at the top UK venue against some of the world's best were. Joe Mullan has provided a review of the race from the front of the fleet (see below).

At the briefing Tim Hancock (RO) had declared his intention to sail four races that meant an early start - fortunately moving the UK clocks back one hour to GMT eased the pain. After the pounding of Friday and Saturday Hayling Bay looked ominously calm on Sunday morning. All the forecasts pointed to a northerly 7 to 8 knt breeze apart from one that was predicting less. Boats streamed out, hugging the shore to avoid the incoming tide, just about managing to make way. The wind filled in slightly and we all arrived at the race area close in to Hayling Bay. After a short delay the Radials got away first time.

Race 1. As usual the Standards were more trigger-happy but RO Tim Hancock was decisive and we were off on the second attempt under a black flag. Although there was a pin-biased line keeping clear air and working over towards the right paid. Capitalising on the very shifty conditions was extremely important but also staying in pressure. Of the Masters it was Mark Lytle, Alan Davis, Guy Noble and Andy Le Grice who all rounded mark one in the top half of the fleet. Positions didn't dramatically change until the last run down to the finish. With the fading breeze falling away to 2 to 3 knts, the merging of the 4.7s and everyone struggling against the tide several mid fleet Masters were overtaken.

As the Radial fleet were scheduled to start before the Standards many of us were revising our strategies in the light of what was happening to them. The first thing that was obvious was not to go down the middle - but which side?

Race 2 - barely 5 knts of wind at the start gun seemed to evaporate into nothing as the boats desperately struggled to get over the line. Deciding on a strategy became irrelevant as both races were abandoned about 10 minutes in, before the Radials even got to the windward mark. Unfortunately from then on the wind never really got going and racing was soon abandoned.

There now ensued a real fight back to the club against a very strong ebbing tide. As my first race had gone badly on the final run the least I could do would be to get a good 'return to harbour' result. Nick Thompson had once told me that when racing it is possible to get a pull forwards if you follow your competitor right on their transom - which is what I did with Ben Flower and what he did with two of the British Sailing Team squad.

Finally coming into the beach in eighth seemed like an absolute triumph, even if it was behind a RIB - probably not what Nick actually meant though. Such a nice bunch of lads these professionals. Just a word of warning for all Masters sailors: Nick Thompson (two times world champion and Olympian) is now officially an Apprentice Master in the UK - poor chap will have to wait a couple of years before he can do the Worlds or Europeans but he may well be rocking up to some Masters events.

It is interesting though, what makes these professionals so fast? Of course the obvious thing is that they are incredibly talented and spend every day of the week getting better and better. They have the best coaches in the world analysing every move and they have strength and agility - a pretty awe-inspiring combination. We Masters can do the same things only on a much smaller scale - sail as much as we can, keep fit and get some coaching. Many of the youth squad are open to coming along to your club and passing on some of the excellent coaching that they've been given. UKLA have a program that will put your club in touch with these people.

As only one race was completed the event does not constitute a series. But a big thank you must go out to all the volunteers, to SailingFast, Noble Marine, Laser Performance, Southeast Sailboats, Minorca Sailing, Wildwind, Fernhurst books and Merger IT for supporting these series and of course the race officer Tim Hancock and his team, and to the British Sailing Teams RIB driver/coach who helped me get my eighth!

From the Front by Joe Mullan

Early on Sunday morning we were greeted with light, offshore winds and strong tide which made for some very difficult racing.

In the first race of the day, there was a huge amount of pin bias. However, those sailors that had good starts further down from the pin end and played the right hand side came out on top at the first windward mark. The top three at the first windward were Lorenzo Chiavirini followed closely by Nick Thompson and Liam Glyn.

On the first run, huge pressure differences across the course meant the fleet was completely reshuffled for all of those sailors outside of the top two. This saw Joe Mullan move up to third at the leeward gate. On the second beat, there was again another reshuffling for those outside of the top two with Jake Farren-Price sailing an exceptional beat and moving himself up to third. Lorenzo and Nick extended up the second beat meaning the main battle on the last run was for third place. The finish results were Lorenzo first, Nick second and Elliot Hanson third.

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