The first round of the Crewsaver Laser 5000 Series took place this weekend at Grafham Water SC

This weekend (13-14 April) marked the beginning of the Laser 5000 season with an open meeting at Grafham Water SC.

A total of 17 teams arrived at the event on the Saturday morning, to be greeted by challenging conditions, white water and a fresh northerly.

The first race saw Mark Emmett, with new sponsor, Appleton Signs and new crew Jonny Backhouse start well and take the lead from Andy and Dave Richards in Gul/Harken and Jamie Shelton and Graham White in West Country Watersports.

With a round to go, West Country Watersports took the lead from Gul/Harken but at the finish it was Gul/Harken who stole the lead with Appleton signs finishing third, Hyde sails fourth and Roger Lewis in fifth.

In the second race the breeze started to ease a little but at the first mark it was Gul/Harken and Appleton Signs who were again fighting it out at the front.

After a two rounds, Appleton Signs broke away and led to the finish, with Gul/Harken in second and Hyde Sails finishing third. The third race started straight away and the breeze had dropped to 12 knots.

West Country Watersports were back at the front with Gul/Harken and Appleton Signs battling for the lead. In the end it was Gul/Harken who won, from Appleton Signs in second and West Country in third. So at the end of the day Gul/Harken led by one point from Appleton Signs with West Country Watersports in third and Hyde Sails in fourth.

Sunday dawned with a much lighter breeze and it was noticeably warmer than the the previous day. After a short postponement to wait for the wind to fill in, the fourth race started. As small pockets of breeze filtered down the course, the order changed dramatically with some teams at the back one minute and then leading the pack the next.

Eventually the race was shortened after half a round and Hyde sails won from Gul/Harken in second with West Country Watersports third. Just as the breeze appeared to settle it vanished again and race five started in almost breathless conditions with a very port-biased line. Many teams were caught out at the wrong end of the line without any wind, but eventually everyone got away. At the front of the fleet it was once again Hyde sails who took up the challenge and scored another first place, this time from West Country Watersports with Gul/Harken back in fourth place just ahead of Appleton Signs. Newcomers Jim Baldwin and Carl Gibbon had a great race and finished in third place. At last the breeze settled and once the course had been moved, race six was started. Again there was a huge bias on the start line and a big pile up ensued. Baldwin and Gibbon were again doing well but at the end it was Gul/Harken who won from West Country Watersports in second and Appleton Signs in third. Overall Gul/Harken won from West Country Watersports, only one point ahead of Hyde Sails in third who piped Appleton Signs by one point.

With prize money kindly donated by Hermes Pensions, this event was the first to use the new buddy system where at the end of the first day the top team are paired up with the last and so on. At the end of the day the winners were Jim Baldwin, Carl Gibbon, Nick Jones and Alex McKee, from Roger Lewis, Matt Best, Simon Scammell and Jim Baldwin in second and Hyde Sails, Rob Edwards and Nyall Myant in third.

The next event is the first leg of the Eurocup in France over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend in a few weeks time.