UK Laser Assn World & European Qualifier 1 at Stokes Bay
8th and 9th March 2014
Standard Fleet Report from Elliot Hanson
52 sailors entered the, Noble Marine sponsored, opening series qualifier, including 1997 European Champion Hugh Styles, showing he still has what it takes! Conditions were just about as good as you could ask with a SE 10 to 12 knot breeze and temperatures touching the teens!
On Saturday the standard fleet was very well behaved all day with no recalls despite the pushing tide. Nick Thompson took advantage of a great start to lead Race 1 and sail away from the rest. The minor positions were fought out by Elliot Hanson, Hugh styles and Alex Mills-Barton with Hanson taking second ahead of Mills-Barton.
Race 2 saw a slight change with a heavily favoured pin end. It was Martin Evans who won the pin and lead around the windward mark. Thompson showed good speed to pull ahead again to take his second win with the chasing pack fighting it out to the final run. Due to the tidal gradient the course offered fewer overtaking opportunities until the downwind treadmill! Mills-Barton showed good pace to finish second ahead of Lorenzo Chiavarini.
The final race of the day saw the breeze become more patchy and the tide begin to ease. Hanson won the pin end but it was local legend Nick Harrison who led around the windward mark winning the right hand side. Hanson took the lead on the reach and sailed away with a win whilst Tom Scott pulled through to second place. His best result so far at a Qualifier! Styles showed his experience to come back from a penalty off the start to take third.
Apart from a slight blip early morning Sunday produced much the same conditions as Saturday. Mills-Barton came out of the blocks quickly to win the pin and sail away with his first race win. Thompson pulled through the fleet from the less favoured right to take second. The chasing group were fighting till the bitter end with Chiavarini sailing a good downwind leg to take third ahead of new British Sailing Team member, Michael Beckett.
Race 2 was almost a carbon copy with Mill-Barton showing good speed to lead from the pin end. The top 6 boats rounded within a few seconds of one another which produced a tense reach. Thompson pulled through to take the lead, which he defended successfully to the finish. Mills-Barton held his nerve to take second, whilst Chiavarini sailed a brilliant final reach to pass three boats and take third.
The final race of the weekend saw Thompson and Mills-Barton sail in to catch their flight to Palma. Hanson was able to win the pin and extend from there on to take his second win. Beckett and Chiavarini then had a tactical showdown which came down to the final mark of the 3-lap course. Chiavarini just managed to gain an overlap and take second ahead of Beckett to finish a solid day.
The next qualifier will take place next weekend at Pevensey Bay where sailors look to build on this weekend's performances and seal their spots on this year's international regattas.
- Nick Thompson
- Elliot Hanson
- Alex Mills-Barton
- Lorenzo Chiavarini
- Michael Beckett