Largs gears up for the Laser Radial Worlds
Largs on the Clyde estuary is making final preparations to stage the biggest and most significant sailing championship ever run in Scotland when the world class sailing waters off the Scottish Sailing Institute at Largs Sailing Club play host to nearly 600 competitors from a total of 58 different countries at the Laser Radial World Championships between Tuesday 6 July and Sunday 25 July.
The championships are split between two weeks of racing.
The Laser Radial World championships opens on Tuesday 6th July. Racing begins for the Men and Women on Friday 9 July and the Finals conclude on Wednesday 14 July.
All three 2008 Laser Radial Olympic medallists – from the USA, Lithuania and China - and Scotland’s 2012 Olympic hopeful Charlotte Dobson will be among a fleet of 120 from 41 nations challenging for the World title in the Olympic Laser Radial Women’s class.
The Men’s Laser Radial World Championships run simultaneously and have drawn a championship fleet of 120 boats from 33 different countries.
The second week is devoted to younger, under 19 years old sailors. Racing for the Laser Radial Youth World Championship Boys and Girls titles takes place between Tuesday 20th and Sunday 25th July.
Largs is a well proven championships sailing venue, hosting regattas of similar size and importance many times before, such as the ISAF Women’s World Championships, the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in 1991, the Laser Masters European Championships, a Windsurfing World Championships, and many major national dinghy championships such as the UK National Championships of the Optimist class which draws over 350 young sailors.
But the Laser Radial World Championships will be the biggest challenge yet for the Scottish Sailing Institute since it opened in 1991 and for the hosts Largs Sailing Club.
Required infrastructure improvements include the construction of an additional new, 50 metres wide slipway, but the local organisers have been pulling out all the stops to ensure the sailors’ visit is as memorable and successful as possible.
David Campbell-James, the RYA Competitions Manager reports: “We have a volunteer team of more than 120 people, including more than 80 who will work on the water, all primed to ensure that Largs and Scotland deliver an event which is run to the highest standard on the water and ashore.
“It is important to get the balance right for the competitors. For many this will be a key indicator for their selection to their Olympic team for 2012 so ensuring their experience is underpinned by good, fair racing, good on-shore facilities and efficient regatta management is important, but we aim to offer a warm Scottish welcome, and hope that when they follow the pipes and drums of Largs’ traditional local pipe band through the streets of, it will be a stirring start to an event which they will look back at with positive, happy memories.”
Events hosted by the Scottish Sailing Institute directly generate more than £600,000 annually for the immediate local economy, with considerable far reaching spin-offs.
Initial expectations are that this figure will be more than doubled by the direct local spending of competitors’, coaches’, families and friends’ visit to Largs this year.
Other positive long term benefits include raising Scotland’s global profile as a world leading sailing and watersports destination, inspiring young Scots to take up sailing and perhaps to follow in the wake of Scots like double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson, and local favourite Dobson who has just earned a silver medal for Skandia Team GBR at the Laser Radial European Championships in Estonia.
The regatta is hosted by the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) and supported by a partnership founded between UKSport through its world class performance plan, Scotland’s national events agency EventScotland, Scottish Enterprise and North Ayrshire Council. As well as a top class competitive event the aim is to develop a lasting, long term legacy for Scottish and British sailing.
Bringing world level Olympic sports events to the UK in the build up to the 2012 Olympic Games is an essential strand in UK Sport’s world class performance plan. Running world class regattas on UK waters facilitates accessible high level competition for established and emerging GBR sailors, but it also improves and expands the experience of volunteers and specialist staff for the future.