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UKLA Noble Marine World & European Qualifier & Laser Masters at Hayling Island Sailing Club

by Hannah Snellgrove & Niall Peelo 5 Nov 2019 05:56 PST 2-3 November 2019
UKLA Noble Marine World & European Qualifier & Laser Masters at Hayling Island © Peter Hickson

Radial report (by Hannah Snellgrove)

With Saturday's racing cancelled early due to the forecast high winds, there was a chance for those who travelled down to HISC regardless to sit and watch the rugby from the comfort of the clubhouse, with some braver (or crazier!) folk toughing out the conditions and taking to their windsurfers rather than their Lasers. Those who were down on the Saturday evening were treated to a talk from Neil Peters (aka Stick Daring) about his recent circumnavigation of the UK in a £50 Laser, which - he pointed out - turned out to have been somewhat overpriced.

Sunday dawned bright, and despite the slightly drooping flags in the boat park, the fleet launched on time and arrived on the race course to a chilly 5-7kt breeze from the north west, with what felt like almost as much tide as wind. Despite the current pushing the fleet over the line, the Radials got away first with a clean start and no need for the threatening black flag.

It was Hannah Snellgrove playing the shifts up the middle of the course who led around the top mark, followed by a chasing pack including Shotaro Kikkawa and Arthur Farley. Ben Elvin made some gains by taking a low course on the reach, but then lost out on the long run by sailing into less pressure on the right-hand side.

The game of snakes and ladders continued on the second beat, with 'tack when it flaps' having never been more literal, and sailors going from sitting in the middle of their boats trying to keep their sail filled to sat on the side the next minute. The key was spending as much time as possible doing the latter and not the former!

Snellgrove played the left-hand side of the beat and led round the second top mark, but Alison Young had worked her way up the middle right in some good pressure to round just behind. Farley, meanwhile, who had led around the right gate mark, had gone further right and found his own patch of absolutely no wind.

Snellgrove and Young had a tussle down the left-hand side of the downwind, but the chasing pack found some more wind out on the right-hand side, and Dan Batty and Oliver Sturley sailed on past just before the final mark to take line honours and second place respectively, with Young taking third.

Unfortunately this proved to be the only race of the day, meaning that the event did not count on the UKLA Ladder. The race officer made several valiant attempts to get another score on the board, but the wind proved to be too all over the place, and two races were abandoned before the fleet made the first mark.

The long sail in against the tide provided the time for sailors to argue about who would have won had the races been allowed to continue. Rob Cage, UKLA Chairman, attested that he was closest to the windward mark in the final abandoned race, and to be fair to him, I think he was. What would have happened in the hero to zero to hero conditions thereafter though, we will never know!

Masters Radial Report - 17 Radial Masters mix it with the young guns (by Niall Peelo)

Changing from tradition, the next leg of the Masters qualification event was to be combined with the Open World & European Qualifier event. I am sure this was planned to give the masters an opportunity to learn from the youth of today, or maybe they just wanted to give Ben Elvin and Jon Emmett a bit of competition for a change.

Hayling Island Sailing Club was the host club, and no better a club to host what could potentially be a big entry event. Unfortunately a poor weather forecast (near Gales forecast) and the rugby may have put some masters off, yet 17 masters still entered for the event in the Radial Class.

As the weekend approached and the weather forecast indicated Saturday was indeed going to see winds near 40kts, the race management sensibly cancelled all racing for Saturday. This gave the few competitors who travelled to HISC the chance to watch the rugby from the comfort of the HISC bar, while enjoying the great restaurant facilities HISC has to offer. It also gave Masters Radial sailors a chance to sympathise with David Catto on the result (David is originally from NZL!).

Saturday evening saw Standard Master sailor Neil Peters recount his experience of sailing around the UK mainland in a Laser, but not any Laser - one he had paid £50 for. The audience could have been forgiven for thinking Neil might be slightly crazy, as he talked about rowing the laser in no wind, throwing away the oars, as he realised its impossible to row a laser, sailing alone in 30kts unsupported, finding nowhere suitable to land, sleeping in public toilets as the weather outside was too bad for a tent etc.

The good news for those that missed the talk, is that Neil had so much to talk about (the entire voyage took 76 days), he could not get the talk completed on the Saturday night, so we expect him to continue at the next Masters event.

Sunday dawned, the wind and rain had stopped, and the sun was out although it was cold, autumn was definitely upon us. The race officer in the briefing indicated the plan was for 4 races, and he expected 9-10kts of wind. This was encouraging as there was only about 1 kt in the boat park.

The fleet launched (70 odd Radials ranging from Youth sailors to masters legends). It was a long sail to the start line against the tide in little wind, but once at the committee boat there was just enough wind to set a course and begin a sequence - after all there would be 10kts soon!

Unusually for the Masters, the sequence saw the Radial fleet started first. This totally ruined my method of planning the start and first beat. I usually watch the Standards, and base my entire strategy on what I see. This new sequence meant I would need to think for myself.

The fleet got away first time, despite the strong tide. It became immediately obvious to most of the masters that the agility of the more youthful sailors does have its benefits, as some of them shot off the line, with the pace only Jon and Ben ever seem to have in our fleet.

The wind remained light and patchy up the first beat, making tactics tricky. I would like to give credit to who ever got to the first mark in first place, but I have no idea who it was. All I could make out was in the Radial fleet Rob Cage, Ben Elvin, Jon Emmet and Max Hunt were among the leading Master sailors.

The 10kts of wind never materialised, in fact it went lighter on the run, which as it was against the tide, made for a very long leg. The next beat brought much of the same with the wind, and as always, those that read the conditions well made gains, while the rest of us sat in holes of little or no wind pondering why anyone in their right mind would try and sail around the country in a boat like this!

By the finish, Jon had managed to get to 11th and was first master, Rob 2 places behind in 13th, Ben in 15th and Max in 19th.

Between races, the wind dropped completely, and the signs were not good that any wind would appear. A light breeze did develop and wasting no time the race officer made the best of it to get a start sequence going.

The radial fleet made a clean start with the fleet evenly spread along the line. Within a few minutes of the start, the wind had gone lighter and was shifting considerably. About 10 minutes into the race, the race officer abandoned the race due to the unstable conditions, and the fleet waited another 30 minutes or so for signs of more wind. More wind did appear, but after another start a similar trend emerged with the wind being unstable, and again the race officer decided to abandon the race again.

It should be noted that when this race was abandoned, Rob Cage thinks he was closest to the windward mark. I did see him, and at that point in time, I agree he probably was, but as he said it counted for nothing.

As the wind had yet again dropped to almost nothing the race officer abandoned all further races for the day and the fleet began the long tow back to the shore.

Unfortunately as a result of the weather conditions, the first combined qualifier event only had one race over the weekend, and the masters never got to see how fast or slow we really are compared to the youth and Olympic campaign sailors. Perhaps next year we will have another chance to race in a combined event and give our class chairman a chance to get to the windward mark first!

Thanks to HISC for all their organisation, and to our sponsors Laser Performance, Southeast Sailboats, Minorca Sailing, Wildwind, Fernhurst books and Merger IT, without whose help the Masters series could not be run.

We would like to thank Noble Marine, our title sponsor for UKLA's Qualifiers and Sailingfast who sponsor our UKLA Youth Series by attending the events and donating so many prizes.

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