Paul Goodison wins Laser open at Whitstable

The Laser open meeting at Whitstable YC on 30-31 October was the last in the UK calendar, held on the tidal waters on the North East coast of Kent and the Thames Estuary.

The competition was greeted by glassy conditions on the Saturday, this was due to a big high pressure system sat over the top of the UK. The racing was abandoned on the Saturday at about 3pm with an early start planned for the Sunday morning as better weather was forecast.

Sunday dawned brighter and windier with a north-easterly to greet the competitors. Unfortunately, this also brought a reduction in temperature with it but at least there was wind at Force 3 initially and a slight swell.

The racing got off to a good start with the fleet of Standard rig Lasers away first time the tide made the first beat very tricky and at the first mark Andrew commander led. Next round was Mark Powell, followed by Giles Scott and Hugh Styles all within a few seconds of each other. These three battled all the way round the race track switching places on the upwind but at the finish it was Commander 1st with Powell 2nd Scott 3rd and Styles 4th.

Race two was started promptly after the Radials had finished, Hugh Styles started at the port end of the line and squeaked round the buoy tacked onto port a short time after and was away. Paul Goodison also made a good start and was also off onto port crossing the fleet shortly after the start. Both sailors used their speed to sail clear of the fleet and come the first mark it was Goodison from Styles with a good distance to the next boat James Gray. Goodison maintained his lead around the next lap of the course with Styles solidly in second both boats extending from the pack, with Gray at the front of that and Commander a solid 4th.

Going into the last race all was to play for, the tide had started to slacken and the starboard end of the line was favoured rather than the port end in in the previous two races.

Styles and Goodison made the best out of the line and it was Styles who lead at the first mark with Mark Powell close in second and Goodison in third. On the downwind Goodison powered through into the lead which he held to the finish, but behind him there was plenty of place changing. With everyone in contention for the overall standings it was nail-biting with it going down to the last leg for the top 5 places to be decided.

The race finished with Goodison first and thus the overall event win, Commander second but his previous two races meant that he was safe even though he had a disqualification in the last race for a premature start. Giles Scott finished strongly to be third overall with a 2nd in the last race, Mark Powell also needed his last race result to count and this helped him to equal points with Hugh Styles, Powell finishing 4th and Styles finishing 5th overall.