Police Sport UK at the:
UK Laser Association
Paul Heath (Greater Manchester Police) won the Police Sport UK Laser Sailing Championship held at Northampton Sailing Club in June, 2008, which subsequently entitled him to represent the British Police in 2009 in a national event.
Paul reports on his weekend at the UK Laser Inland Masters..
Having won the PSUK 2008 Laser national championships I was grateful and pleased with the committee's decision to provide funding for me to represent British Police at a national event under the burgee of Police Sport UK.
So it was then, that over the weekend of 17th/18th October, 2009, I attended my first ever Laser Masters event - the 2009 Laser Masters Inland Championships which took place at Queen Mary Sailing Club, attracting an entry of 54 Standard Rigs and 17 Radial Rigs.
When I got there I recognised a lot of old(er) faces from years gone by and upon checking the entries I saw and recognised the names of a lot of fast helms, which made me realise this was going to be a serious event.
The forecast for the weekend was for reasonable wind on Saturday and potentially
zero on Sunday. This being the case the OD decided, in agreement with the
competitors, that four back-to-back races would be run on Saturday just in case
the forecast turned out to be accurate. The reservoir is spilt by a long spit of
land and our race area was the right hand side of the reservoir if you look
stand with your back to the club house. We were informed that the water level
was low and this coupled with the steep sides made it a very shifty north to north-westerly wind as we beat up from the bottom end of the reservoir towards the
The racing started at midday and took place under overcast skies in a cool north-westerly wind that varied in strength from 8 to 12 knots - the gusts coming in from both sides of the beat and providing shifty conditions in the extreme. After the first two races it was not looking too good. The favoured side of the beat in both races was the left but holding your ground with a black flag start plus getting a good start amongst the good guys was always going to be a problem and so it proved when I was sailed over the top of in both races. The less said the better.
Race 3 was a lot better when I found myself in company with just two other boats reaching towards the far end of the line just as the gun went. This race was a bit of a ‘dodgem car’ race as when, after one lap, I rounded to start the beat in 7th place and tacked over onto starboard the boat that was in front of me and had also tacked onto starboard, but into the path of a boat coming downwind, decided to tack onto port right in front of me and we collided. I ended up rounding the windward mark in 7th and promptly ran into the back of the boat in front as I gybed on a gust. I though no one would notice but the chap who I had ran into at the start of the beat and made to do a 720˚ penalty just happened to be behind me and seemed to take pleasure in shouting at me! The end result was me spinning around with a 720˚ penalty and dropping down to 11th by the finish.
Race 4 proved to be the best race of the day for me as this time I went right on the beat and the wind shifted big time to the right as I tacked on the lay line resulting in me rounding the windward mark 2nd and staying in that position until the final 50 yards of the last beat before the overall champion Steve Cockerill sailed past me. In the end I ended up 3rd in the race and went ashore happy as I seemed to be getting better (luckier) as the day went on. Overnight I was in 13th place overall.
As the forecast for Sunday was for no wind, I joined a few friends to sample the local evening delights in Staines...
A blurry, sunny Sunday morning arrived as did a very light and patchy wind. The
instructions stated that we would not sail in less than 5 knots of wind and by
midday it had dropped off altogether so racing for the day was cancelled. When
the discard was brought into play I managed to climb one place leaving me 12th
overall out of 54 entries.
The event was extremely well run and the standard of the fleet was far better than I expected.
Full results can be found on the official UK Laser website -