Over 300 boats expected at Harken Laser nationals in Weymouth 11/8/07

A plethora of Olympic hopefuls will be racing in Weymouth Bay when the UK Laser Association holds its national championship at the Sailing Academy from 11-17 August. The international sailing hardware company ‘Harken’ will sponsor the event and over 300 entries are expected.

Paul Goodison, who has been ranked as No 1 in the World rankings for the past 13 months, will be hoping to extend his dominance over the UK fleet. However, victory will not come easily and amongst those looking to improve their chances will be Lymington’s Nick Thompson, ISAF 2005 World Youth champion.

Using the smaller sail the Radial fleet will have the most entries as it is sailed by both the women, as their Olympic single-handed dinghy, and also the lighter men. Team GBR is particularly strong in the women’s fleet. Charlotte Dobson, Lizzie Vickers, Andrea Brewster and Penny Clark are all ranked in the Top 20 worldwide and the race to be chosen for Beijing next year is wide open. Ben Paton, also from Lymington, recently won the Men’s World Radial Championships in Holland. Local sailor Jon Emmett finished 4th just ahead of World Masters’ champion Steve Cockerill (6th). All three will be amongst the 150 plus sailors in this fleet.

In 2005 the Laser 4.7 rig, the smallest of the rigs, was chosen by the RYA as a Pathway class. Since then the numbers of young sailors coming into the class from Optimists and Toppers has been staggering. The level of competition within the fleet is improving all the time and with a record number of helms expected at Weymouth next week it is anyone’s guess as to who the eventual winner will be.