Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2011 Laser Masters Nationals

At the start of the 2010-11 summer sailing session I decided it would be good to do some planning as I wanted to try a few Laser sanctioned regatta’s, subject to family or work commitments taking a precedence. As it panned out I was good to go to my first Laser Masters Nationals in Port Stephens, NSW. I was prepared to travel to this regatta by myself, but I was really pleased to see that Kerry had decided to take the plunge as well to compete in his first National Regatta.

The conditions for the opening day of the Laser Masters Nationals couldn’t have been better. The idyllic bay of Port Stephens greeted the 185 boat fleet with clear blue skies top temperature of 34C and 15-18knots, gusting to 20-23knots. Kerry and I decided to launch about an hour before our start, as we just wanted get out onto the water. It was amazing to see the entire fleet of 185 being launched and then sailing around in close proximity was a real rush.  We had two races for the day, which we both really enjoyed the competition.

Day two was bit different, as the fleet was greeted with an overcast day, but still the temperature was mid to high 20’s. The breeze for the day was southerly at 15-20knots, gusting to 30knots at times during the afternoon. Day two saw three races run, but the day on the water was longer again, as our division got a bit aggressive during the day, with 2 general recalls, which culminated in our division being relegated to the back of the start queue.

Day three was similar to the previous day being overcast and temperature in the mid 20’s. The breeze for the day was lighter than yesterday at 8-18knots. Individuals had the opportunity to make some big gains on the fleet today, as the wind was very shifty. Again three races were held for day.

Day four and the final day of the regatta, only two more races to be sailed. We woke to a very different start to the day. The last three days in Port Stephens we all woke to dead calm mornings and only at around 11 to 11:30 the breeze started to kick in. This morning was different, as it was raining and the wind already blowing in from the South at 15-20knots and gusting to 25-30knots. The final day for me was a good one to finish off, but unfortunately for Kerry is was not the best day for him. Just after the start of the first race Kerry capsized and for some reason was having a lot of difficulty righting the boat. After struggling for a while he decided to retire. Once on shore he found out what the problem was. Somehow the mast retainer had slipped down in-between the mast and the mast step. The result was that his mast could not turn and thus making his boat very difficult to sail.

Congratulation goes to Owen McMahon for winning Laser Radial Apprentice division. It was a well deserved win. As for Kerry and me, we placed 39th & 37th respectively in the Laser Full Rig Masters division. We both were pleased with our result, at our first major regatta.

In summary, I found the regatta was well configured and set-up for a Masters regatta, with time allowed for sailors who brought the young families to spend time with them in an idyllic location and every evening a dinner, cocktail party, or sausage sizzle was provided to allow plenty of time to socialize. I would highly recommend attending a regatta like this one.

The next Laser Masters Nationals is scheduled to be held in May 2012 at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly. Kerry and I are planning to venture out again next year, as both found it to be a great experience on and off the water.

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