Open meeting round up from 27/28 April
This weekend saw the inaugural Laser 4000 Newcomers’ Event, hosted by Datchet Water Sailing Club. The event was aimed at people who are fairly new to the boat, or who have been mainly sailing at club level, and comprised a one-day training course and one-day open meeting.
Following a week of hot sunshine and light winds, we were delighted to be greeted on Saturday with perfect newcomer weather - a chilly 20 knot breeze, with gusts of up to 30 knots, and rumours of showers (not the hot variety) later in the day! Despite the conditions, 26 enthusiastic boats turned up to take part (though several crew had gone to the trouble of getting bandaged up or having stitches before coming, just in case they would be forced onto the water!).
The day kicked off with a thorough review of how to rig and set up the Laser 4000 to make sure everything works smoothly and to make life easy in all conditions. There was also a quick look at the parts most likely to break or wear, led by top coach and ex-4000 national champion, Rob Andrews. Oncethe demo boat had been put back together, the group moved inside for a session on boat handling, with Rob supported by 4-tonner Jedi Knights, Luke McEwen, Derek Bretherton and Pete Harrison.
After lunch, the inevitable could be delayed no longer, and the teams ventured towards the water. The more confident boats headed straight out, while others perfected their chin-stroking techniques and found useful jobs to occupy their time and delay that decision! Team Logie provided a useful distraction by testing the theory that a 4000 could usefully be turned into an oversized kite surfboard, by flying the mainsail horizontally from the top of the mast in 25 knots of breeze. This managed to occupy four boats for at least half an hour, before the shore-based teams then moved onto the advanced tea-drinking and observation class.
On the water, Joost Steltenpool - having swapped positions with his crew, Jetske, for the weekend - was a clear winner in the acrobatic diving competition, with a series of perfectly executed jumps from the trapeze into the water, clearing the mainsail on every capsize. Huw Powell and Paul Eden from Stokes Bay impressed the judges, winning the 'most number of gybes executed without capsize while on video' award. And Jo Hewitson got a special mention for choosing that day to learn to trapeze!
Sunday dawned with similar conditions to Saturday, except that the gusts had increased to 35 knots and the rumoured showers had been upgraded to rumoured hail. About ten 4000s ventured onto the water - presumably to participate in the planned racing. However, once on the water, most seemed to view the start line and racing marks as a bit of an inconvenience, and spent theirtime just blasting around the reservoir and having fun!
Andy Carter got the 'I don't believe in fate' nomination, for being so determined to sail that he borrowed a rudder to replace the one he had broken on Saturday, only to break his mast on Sunday. With only one boat sailing both morning races, and conditions worsening, the third race was abandoned and Lawrence Fernley and Bret Matthews of King George SC declared the winners of the Open Meeting.
Additional prizes were donated by Datchet-based chandlery, The Dinghy Store.