For the mid-summer weekend the Laser 5000 fleet made an enthusiastic return to Felixstowe Ferry SC for the second event of the Crewsaver Laser 5000 UK Series.

For the mid-summer weekend the Laser 5000 fleet made an enthusiastic return to Felixstowe Ferry SC for the second event of the Crewsaver Laser 5000 UK Series.

In previous years Felixstowe has provided some great sailing and partying – and this year was no exception.

Launched by an army of well organised helpers, the crews had to be on their toes from the word go as the fleet sailed out to the race course, weaving through the estuary’s shingle banks in a brisk breeze. Once in open water the pre-start sailing was lively in the good force 4-5. By the start of the first race the wind was easing to a more manageable F3-4 and some competitive racing ensued.

As the fleet reached the top mark it was confronted by a minefield of lobster pots, a number conveniently located on the lay lines. Most boats throughout the fleet became snarled on the lengthy lines of the lobster pots during the day, some successfully relaying the pots in the line of the pursuing boats.

Mark Emmet and Johnny Backhouse on Appleton Signs made an authoritive start recording their first bullet of the weekend. Local boat Dave Evans and Nick Bubb also made a strong start with a good second, while Steve Tylecote and Fiona Coates marked their return to the fleet after a season away with a third.

After a hard fought battle for fourth place with Mike Thomson and Tom Porter and Nick Jones and Spencer Schlachter, Roger “Lobster Pot” Lewis fell foul of a trailing pot line just short of the last windward mark. An impressive tangle ensued, the final consequence of which Lewis/Best were the last boat to finish, crossing the line standing on their centreboard.

Following early tussles in the second race the top three order recorded the same results as race 1. Lewis/Best managed to avoid most lobster pots to achieve fourth, while Jones/Schlachter remembered to go through the gate and hold onto their fifth. Race 3 and the duel for first was again won by Appleton Signs ahead of Tylecote/Coates, with Jones/Schachter in third.

After a great day’s sailing the fleet were able to retire to the welcoming hospitality of the sailing club, augmented by barbeque and disco; an entertaining evening lubricated for some by the ominous sounding turbo shandy.

Day two started with sunshine, a pleasant force 3 and the promise of another great day’s sailing. By the start of racing the wind had become more variable: those choosing the right hand side of the course for the first leg were punished severely; chance and a keen eye for wind shifts paid dividends. Appleton Signs, Tylecote/Coates and Thomson/Porter all managed to build on yesterday’s success with a first, second and third respectively.

To keep everyone on their toes, yesterday’s lobster pot obstructions had been replaced by a fast moving tide down the course which wrong footed most boats over the three races. The current played a starring role in possibly the most spectacular capsize of the season, executed by Lawrence and Pippa Hildesley. On rounding the top mark the strong tide swept the Hildesleys onto the mark’s anchor line. With the centreboard snared on the line and the boat bearing away the rig powered up, pitchpoling the boat in a dramatic manner worthy of an 18′ skiff. Those still approaching the mark were treated to a fine view of the Hildersley’s deck layout as their stern rose majestically above their bow.

By the second race of the day the wind was settling down to a Force 3. Event leader Appleton Signs seemed to have particular difficulties in judging the top lay line, blotting their copy book with a second in the fifth race. Tylecote/Coates had greater success with their mark roundings and recorded their first bullet; Lewis/Best also recorded their best result so far with a third.

The final race of the day showed Appleton Signs and Tylecote/Coates that they cannot have everything their own way as Thomson/Porter established a commanding lead with Jones/ Schlachter comfortably in second. A lively battle for third, fourth and fifth took place between Tylecote/Coates, Appleton Signs and Lewis/Best with positions changing regularly throughout the race. Meanwhile Evans/Bubb were unable to capitalise on their early successes on day one, retiring from the final race with a broken rudder downhaul.

With a solid second place in sight, behind Thomson/Porter’s well deserved first place, Jones/Schlachter suffered the cruellest blow of the weekend. On the last downwind leg, and seconds away from the finish line with space behind them, a snarled spinnaker hoist sent them on their side giving the following three boats the opportunity to cross the line ahead of them.

After a great weekend’s sailing Appleton Signs collected first prize with three firsts and one second; Tylecote/Coates return to 5000 sailing was rewarded with second place, while Thomson/Porter’s bullet in the last race added to a string of good results to collect third. Prizes were provided by Crewsaver and Hermes. A big thanks is due to all at Felixstowe Ferry SC: the organisation both on and off the water was superb; the race management was excellent, and the members of FFSC provided a warm welcome and generous hospitality throughout the weekend.

Results after six races, 1 discard. (Top six)

1st 5272 Mark Emmett/Johnny Backhouse (RYA)

2nd 5069 Steve Tylecote/Fiona Coates (Spinnaker SC

3rd 5242 Mike Thomson/Tom Porter (Hayling Island SC) 4th 5130 Roger Lewis/Matt Best (Hayling Island SC)

5th 5151 Nick Jones/Spencer Schlacter

6th 5050 David Evans/Nick Bubb (Felixstowe Ferry SC)

Dan Griffey