The Laser 2000 class really came of age this weekend (8-9 September, 2001) with their third national championship attracting 42 entries

The Laser 2000 class really came of age this weekend (8-9 September, 2001) with their third national championship attracting 42 entries – a 40 per cent increase on last year.

With sponsorship from Crewsaver and additional support from Proctor masts and The Laser Centre, a great weekend was promised and delivered.

Carsington SC provided a superb venue, with excellent facilities and race management, while the weather gods provided a Force 5-6 for the majority of the event so that the teams could really show what these boats were capable of. The six races over the weekend were raced on a combination of trapezoid /sausage and triangle/sausage courses under the guidance of race officer Steve Blake.

Paul and Rebecca Procter arrived at the nationals an unknown quantity, having had their 2000 for only a couple of months and not competing at any open meetings with it. However, they were soon into their stride, taking the bullet in the opening race on Saturday. They were followed home by three RAF Sailing Association boats – Andy Dring and Simon Laken, Chris and Katie Blake and Keith McQuillan and Rich Birchenall (last year’s champions) with regular series competitors Trevor and Caroline Bradley, of Littleton, in fifth.

Race two saw the strongest wind of the weekend, with some vicious gusts sending many for an early swim, and more new faces at the front of the pack, with Tom Rosoman and John Lister taking the win. They hadn’t figured in race one, as they were still on the beach putting their boat together! Behind them were Dring and Laken, McQuillan and Birchenall and the Blakes. The Procters must have wondered if their challenge was over, finishing fifth. However, it was their worst result of the weekend, and they were back on form for race three, taking the win with McQuillan and Brichenall second, Rosomon and Lister third and circuit regulars Skip and Zoe Atkins fourth. The Atkins’ gennaker handling was particularly impressive, especially as Zoe, only 12 years old, was one of the youngest competitors in the fleet. Fifth were the Blakes.

So, as the crews retired to the clubhouse for the Proctor Masts happy hour, it was the Procters at the top of the tree, followed by McQuillan and Birchenall and the Blakes. Only five points separated the top four, but throughout the fleet the talk was of excellent (if slightly overpowered) sailing, and how good it was to see 40 Laser 2000s blasting downwind with gennakers flying. Everyone had some good competition, whether they were at the front, middle or back.

Sunday arrived with sunshine – but still as windy. In the first race of the day, Chris and Katie Blake took the title of unluckiest team in the fleet after a collision with another RAFSA boat which was coming downwind on port while they were on starboard going upwind punched a hole in the hull, putting them out of contention for the rest of the event. The Procters took the race, followed by McQuillan and Birchenall, and the Atkins. Rosoman and Lister finished ninth, after a premature start.

Races five and six were back to back, with McQuillan and Birchenall recording their only win in race five, with the Procters second before taking the bullet in the final race to secure the title, the first time that the trophy has not gone back to the RAF Sailing Association.

All in all, a superb weekend’s sailing, with some superb prizes donated by sponsors Crewsaver presented by James Tinkler of the Laser Centre.