Updated: Jun 6, 2019
The Laserfest Tri-Series 2019 supported by SailingChandlery.com kicked off at Broadstairs Sailing Club on June 2 under a dazzling clear blue sky together with some strong winds and even stronger tides. A four race programme – with all four races to count – meant the 29-strong fleet of Laser sailors finished the day pretty tired, but of course very happy!
Laserfest is a concept created by Whitstable Yacht Club’s Laser fleet, first run in 2017, designed to encourage their Laser sailors to come out in numbers for a celebratory big weekend of Laser fun, on an Olympic-sized off-shore course. At its core it’s about inclusivity, so all levels of Laser sailors are welcome and the usual regatta issue of strict class-legal compliance is waived. With a tag line of ‘racing, music and beer’ there’s as much effort put into the socializing – a band and a barbeque. Some 41 sailors enjoyed the inaugural event.
In 2018, with the arrival of Broadstairs Sailing Club and Herne Bay Sailing Club on the organising committee, Laserfest was expanded into a travelling three-event concept (hence Tri-Series), inviting the Laser sailors from all three clubs to compete with each other at each other’s venues. As before, the emphasis was on fun and community and big-fleet racing of a friendly kind (zero protests!). The Tri-Series also spawned a teams competition, broken into better sailors chasing the Elite shield and ‘average’ sailors chasing the Club shield. Attendance was excellent, with 33 Lasers at Herne Bay’s opening one-day round, 44 at the Whitstable weekender and 33 again for the one-day finale at Broadstairs. Olly Cage-White (BSC) was top sailor across the whole series, while Broadstairs won the Elite shield and Whitstable the Club.
So for 2019 the Tri-Series enters its second season, Laserfest its third. The three round programme this year started at Broadstairs, continues on July 13-14 at Whitstable and concludes on September 1 at Herne Bay. While the Tri-Series might be organised collectively by the three clubs entry is open to all and other clubs are welcome to join in the fun, either as individual sailors or in the teams competition (each team contains 3-4 sailors). All you need to know you can find at Laserfest’s punchy, all-action website: https://www.laser-fest.com/
So, back to the news. At Broadstairs SC the racing was based on the club’s inshore ‘club line’, with a sausage course, upwind-downwind, with a spreader marker off the windward mark and a middle distance mark on the start line to stop the fleet from crowding/colliding with the slipway. The wind started as fresh F4, prompting many to choose Radial rigs for the day, then dropped to a F3 for race two, only to lift back up after lunch to a fair F4 again. The tide ran south for the morning then north in the afternoon and never at anything less than two knots and probably a lot more given the disasters witnessed around the spreader mark – not to mention two general recalls in the afternoon as the fleet struggled to keep behind the line as they were pushed toward Ramsgate.
Olly Cage-White (BSC), fresh from winning the Men of Kent at Downs SC on Saturday made it a weekend double by winning the overall. Second was Pierce Seward (BSC) making a welcome return to sailing a Laser (Radial) from his now usual RS Aero-ing. Max Hunt (WYC) took third spot to stop the young guns from dominating the podium. There were two 4.7s in the fleet with Harry Newton (WYC) making it a fair way up the result sheet to claim first there.
In the teams’ competition the Broadstairs Elite young guns failed to dominate as expected; fast as they were, collectively they made too many mistakes and with no discards they lacked the intensity, consistency and reliability of the Whitstable team (old guys rule!). The WYC Club team made it two from two, taking the Club team honours over the Broadstairs team.
The event was a success socially, too. On the Saturday night Broadstairs hosted a evening supper and drink-up that was attended by 40, including Whitstable and Herne Bay members (turns out Coors Light is not alcohol-free). Sunday morning was started with full English breakfasts from the BSC kitchen, lunch was likewise a major service with around 60 people fed, while tea, cake – and beers – were consumed during the closing ceremony. As befits the chilled-out style of LaserFest as well as the usual winners’ awards, medals of valour were given for perseverance, marine exploration (best capsize), and best import (American).
As said, the next round is the big one at Whitstable YC on July 13-14, with band barbeque, beer and the big course. If you’ve got a Laser (young or old – that’s you or the boat) you’d be mad to miss it.