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Laser Class Announces New Composite Top Mast

The class legal composite mast will be available in early 2017.

5 December 2016

The International Laser Class Association (ILCA) is pleased to announce the release of a class-legal composite top mast section that is expected to be available for purchase in early 2017.

Because the new mast was designed with the exact same weight and bend characteristics as the existing aluminum upper sections, it will not provide a performance advantage but instead will eliminate the permanent bending problems associated with the aluminum spars.

"ILCA's policy regarding the introduction of new equipment is that it should always have the same characteristics as the existing equipment and that the new equipment should not give a performance advantage when raced alongside existing equipment," says ILCA Executive Secretary, Eric Faust. "The composite mast definitely meets that objective. It's been tested by some of the top Laser sailors in the world and they all agree that they can't determine any difference while sailing."

According to ILCA Technical Officer, Clive Humphris, "The new top section has been rigorously developed and tested over the past six years to assure that it is a 'like-for-like' part with the current mast. The advantage is that the new mast will be much more durable and won't be prone to permanent bending like the aluminum masts."

ILCA President, Tracy Usher, agrees. "I've sailed with a prototype composite upper while training in a wide variety of conditions -- I couldn't tell any difference between having this spar on the boat or using an aluminum one. I sail the same way and the boat seems to behave the same way. Everything felt the same."

"This is going to make Laser sailing easier for everyone," adds Usher. "Sailors won't need to carefully align their mast rivet when rigging or worry about straightening their masts after a day of heavy air sailing. It's going to be a big improvement for everyone!"

Because the composite mast is now a fully approved change to the Laser Construction Manual, there is no need for a change to the Laser Class Rules. As long as the mast is purchased from an approved Laser Builder or one of its authorized dealers, it will be legal for use at all ILCA sanctioned events.

The new mast specifications have been developed in close cooperation between the approved Laser Builders, World Sailing and ILCA. Because the composite top section is class legal and it will not provide any advantage in performance on the water, neither ILCA nor World Sailing anticipate that the use of the composite mast will need to be restricted for any future events. If it is subsequently determined that the use of the mast needs to be restricted, this will be controlled by Notice of Race on an event-by-event basis.

For more information contact ILCA:

2016 Laser National Championships

The 2016 Laser Nationals were originally scheduled to be held on Algoa Bay, hosted by Algoa Bay Y.C. and Redhouse Y. C.. However, due to concerns with the relationship between the Ports Authority and ABYC, it was decided to move this event to Swartvlei Lagoon, Sedgefield, with Knysna Y.C. coming in as the co-host, replacing ABYC. This decision was met with concerns from several Laser sailors that it would be a light wind event. As it happened, there was strong wind on all four days of the regatta and these concerns were unfounded. Being an inland venue, it was more acceptable for many who would not have participated in an offshore event and the entry was larger as a result. The Lasers had 65 boats, the largest being the Radials with 37 boats, 16 Standards and 12 Laser 4.7s. A large proportion of this entry came from the local S. Cape clubs (KYC and GLYC), who had 23 boats sailing. Other entrants came from Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

The first day, Saturday, had a gusty wind from the south west. Four races were sailed with many exhausted sailors coming ashore afterwards. On Sunday, the wind had switched to the south east, where it remained for the remaining days. Two races were sailed, before the wind had increased to over 25 knots and conditions had become too extreme. This allowed the organisers to set up the prizegiving for the E. Cape Championships in the afternoon. Monday also had two more races for the Lasers, with the wind once again getting too strong in the afternoon. On the last day, three final races were held, making for a total of 11 races, which allowed for two discard races.

Competition at the head of the Radial fleet was tight, but Asenathi Jim was consistently in front, to take the gold medal. He didn't win all the races - his main competition came from Georgou Divaris, who was able to take two race wins from Asenathi , to finish in second place. Third place went to James Hellstrom, who also had a race win, keeping Dylan Long off the podium.

In the Standard fleet, Alastair Keytel wrapped things up, but it was Justin Onvlee who put in a charge, winning the final races, but not quite enough to unseat Alastair from the top step. Third place went to Marcello Marcia, leading Youth sailor.

The Laser 4.7 fleet had a strong team from Knysna Y.C. with Sanele Magquaza leading in this fleet in the first half of the event, but then it was Cullen Keytel dominating at the end to win overall. Sanele dropped to second, with Apenduli Maneli taking third place, ahead of club mate JP Kriel.

2015 Eastern Cape Championships - Laser Class

With the Southern Cape clubs being re-incorporated into SAS W. Cape, SAS E.Cape had to select another venue in their area to host the 2015 E. Cape Championships and the selected venue was Wriggleswade Dam, outside Stutterheim. The event attracted 75 boats, with Mirrors (sailing National Championships) and Optimists - 18 boats each, being the largest classes.

The Laser fleet had just 11 boats, but two of these were Dabchicks, included as they have a similar rating to the Laser 4.7s. Thus just 9 Lasers. Five of these came from the S. Cape, i.e. just four from the E. Cape.

Tim Jones was the sole standard rig Laser, sailing at the front of the fleet against the Radials of Georgou Divaris, James Hellstrom and Megan Robertson. Eleven races were sailed over three days, in light wind (<12 knots). Only one race could be sailed on the final day. Tim could not put any distance ahead of the Radials, thus suffered on handicap. Divaris and Hellstrom shared all the race wins between themselves and James Hellstrom took the Championship by a point clear of Divaris. Tim Jones was third overall. Megan Robertson was 4th, 3rd Radial.

Laser Masters Worlds - Keen Ties 1st Overall

Alan Keen was the sole RSA entrant in this year's Laser Masters World Championships, held in Kingston, Canada. He competed in the standard rig Great Grand Master category.

What a disappointment for Alan Keen as he tied equal first with Mark Bethwaite of Australia after 12 races and was relegated to 2nd overall on the tie-break.
It was a stunning effort by Keen who finished all his races in the top 3, with his worst finish a 4th - so he effectively discarded a 3 and a 4.

Bethwaite (previous world champion, Lasers) had two UFD (U-flag Disqualifications) results, both of which he discarded to end equal with Keen, but having more first places he took the title.

Alan Keen has been a very loyal and competitive Laser sailor for many, many years, so it is not surprise to see him doing to so well - but to have won would have simply been the 'cherry on the top' of an illustrious Laser sailing career.

Whilst on the subject of the Keen's, congratulations to his son Bruce, previous ZVYC Member, who recently also won the Musto Skiff UK Nationals!

2015 Laser National Championships

Sixty boats sailed in the 2015 Laser Nationals , offshore Durban, over the May 1 long weekend and what a fantastic time we had! Everything about this regatta was top class, from the race organisation, to the "new" beach site facility and of course the ideal weather conditions.

The weather forecast predicted strong winds on day 1 with light weather thereafter so most of the "marginal" sailors chose to sail Standard rig ( or radial for the ladies) rather than change down to a Radial or 4,7. In actual fact every "next day" was just as strong as the last so most of the sailors had really good Workers Day Workout. The machos, of course, revelled in the conditions of strong winds and big seas. Some of those reaches were absolutely mind blowing.

It was great to see Rudi McNeil back in the fleet, having just limbered up at Richards Bay on the previous weekend. He took bullets in 7 of the 10 races to secure the Gold medal. Rudolf Holm had a mediocre first day( he didn't attend the practice session at R Bay!) but gradually overhauled Alistair Keytel to take 2nd place .Grand Master Colin Dibb from Australia was only a point behind them in 4th. First youth was Marcello Marcia sailing his first season on the big rig. With a first and 2 fourths he will certainly be the next guy to watch.

In the Radial fleet you would have to look at the results sheet to see how close the racing was , with Dylan Long, Calvin Gibbs and Georgou Divaris all finishing within one point of each other. Sam Lombard was close behind them in 4th spot.
Praise must go to the six ladies who absolutely sailed their hearts out in the strong conditions. First lady overall was Iliana Boura who mixed it with the boys on several races ( a 3rd two 4th s and a fifth) to come 7th overall.

In the 4,7 fleet ZVYC sailors took the top 3 slots ( the more you practice ...?) with Kai Leslie the overall winner. Sarah-Jane Deary had a great regatta to finish in 2nd place. Elsje Dijkstra , fresh out of oppies, sailed brilliantly, with 2 first places, to take 3rd slot.

Thanks must go to Campbell and his team for the organisation, to Race officer Tony Cockrell and his team and especially to Kevin, Peter and the guys on those wet bumpy rescue boats for keeping us safe on the water.

At the awards ceremony some lovely prizes were awarded by lucky draw and thanks must go to Garden Route Sailing, Central Boating, SuperSail Wilderness and Sail Benoni for their contributions.

For another report, with interviews with Rudy McNeil, Alan Keen, Campbell Alexander and Dylan Long, click here

KZN Laser Regional Championships 2015

A fleet of 21 yachts got in some fantastic training for the Laser National Championships at the KZN Laser Regional Championships up in Richards Bay over the long weekend from 30 April to 3 May, with Durban North's Rudy McNeill showing his skills winning the main division.

Race Officer, Len Heard managed to get in ten races overall, with eight races counting towards the final result. Racing was held both in the bay and offshore. Racing was in the harbour the first day, with the wind fresh but dropping during the 3rd race. The fleet was sent offshore for the second day's racing, in big swells and 22kots average, breaking waves on the starting line. Three races sailed in those conditions. For the third day, it was back to the harbour for the final set of 3 races, starting off light, but picking up to 24 knots for the final race.

Megan Robertson from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape finished in first place in a competitive 4.7 fleet of ladies. She managed six first places and four seconds in the 10 races held. Hot on her heels and only three points behind, Durban North's Frances Van Breda had a challenging time on the water.

In the Radial class, Richards Bay's Ruben Heard won on his local waters. Coming in second was school lad, Sam Lombaard and another local, Bridget Clayton finished third in a fleet of 8 men. Special mention to 77-year-old Ken Holliday who finished fifth overall with an impressive tally including a first in the opening race, a third and two fourths.

For the Laser Standard fleet, Rudy McNeill dominated when he was on the water. He scored six firsts and two seconds out of the races that counted. Cape Town's Alan Keen had an impressive last day, finishing in second overall. He pulled out the stops, beating McNeill in two of the final four races. Marcello Marcia had a good weekend on the water, finishing with a well-deserved bronze in this fleet. Sailing competitively for the first time in the larger full rig, Trent Bingham made the transition well, finishing in fourth place. Michael McNeill finished in fifth place.