Sidmouth Laser open hampered by poor winds

This week was the last Wednesday evening sail of the year, a sign that the season is tailing off and winter is on the way.

This week was the last Wednesday evening sail of the year, a sign that the season is tailing off and winter is on the way. Fortunately, it was sunny on Wednesday and also all weekend for the Laser Master Championships, when 88 Lasers descended on Sidmouth.

On Wednesday evening there was very little wind, but it was the last sail so we went out anyway. There was so little wind that half of the fleet didn't even make the start line on time, not managing to drift back fast enough. Those who made the start finally felt a bit of breeze on the second leg, although the gust was fairly shortlived. By the leeward mark Chris Clapp held the lead in a Laser, followed by James Salter and Hope Brodie in a Scorpion.

The beat proved to be tricky, with a doughnut in the middle of the beat (a hole in the wind that resembled a doughnut on the sea, not a culinary treat), combined with this were a few tricky shifts.

James and Hope managed to play the shift right and turn up at the windward mark first, much to their surprise in front of Chris. Up the sausage, James and Hope lost track of the course, nearly going to the wrong buoy, which left the chasing Laser fleet to close the gap. But all was well by the end of the race, the next mark, James and Hope got past Chris again on the line, Gerald Woodley was third overall and second in the Laser fleet.

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At the weekend, Sidmouth held the Laser Master championships, part of a three championship series for sailors over-35 to qualify for the Masters World and European championships. Being such a high profile event it would have been helpful if there had been a bit more breeze, but there was not much more than a force two for the 88 strong fleet.

The first of three races on the Saturday started with the most wind, which favoured the only local sailor, Chris Clapp. After rounding the windward mark in second, he managed to take the lead on the next up wind leg, holding the lead right up until the wind dropped off which, unfortunately, cost him as he dropped back into sixth at the finish.

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This was the end of the local challenge, and also the extent of my knowledge of the racing on Saturday. Chris snapped his mainsheet, and I didn't hear about the other two races.

On Sunday, racing was scheduled to start at 10.30am, and all was looking good, with all the fleet on the water and ready to go.

The breeze had other ideas - just as the course was set, the wind died, so racing had to be postponed. This happened three times throughout the day, not enough wind to sail (the Laser Class Association's sailing instructions needing 5mph across the whole course). This postponement lasted hours before racing was finally abandoned at 13.45pm.

On the plus side it was sunny and enough fish were caught onboard, mostly by the Gybe boat and on the start line boat, to feed the entire sailing club.

After no racing on the Sunday, Saturday's three races were enough to constitute a series and the winner was Steve Cockrill.

Next week, club racing resumes on Saturday, with the Ex-Commodores Cup on Sunday.

As always, thanks to all of the race management team and everyone who helped out at the Laser event.

Good Sailing

This will be James's last sailing report of the season as he is off to Australia next week.

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