open season

open season

We’ve given shit to Laser at times for various reasons, but the folks at LaserPerformance deserve kudos for doing their part to bring more people into entry-level sailing.  Here’s a little report on the "Laser Performance World Open" last weekend in Newport from SA’er ‘Snow Guy,’ sailed in nice conditions inside the bay while the Melges 32s and 24s plodded around in light air outside.

The Laser Performance World Open was in Newport, RI out of Sail Newport last weekend, June 26-27.  While we didn’t have the typical sea breeze the whole time, overall the weather allowed for some great racing.  Unlike the Melges 24’s and 32’s outside, the dinghies had good enough weather to have racing the whole weekend.  We did have some fog and light breeze on Sunday, but more on that later.  There were 3 racing circles and a total of 5 classes.  The Laser, Laser Radial and Sunfish classes were on one circle racing between Rose and Goat Island, the Vanguard 15’s were racing in Breton Cove on Saturday and off Fort Adams on Sunday, the Bugs were inside the harbor.

On the Laser/Sunfish circle, we had a total of 37 boats and 11 W/L races.  Saturday started off warm under bright hazy skies with clouds to the North and a light, pretty 5-7 knot, SW breeze.  The first 3 races off pretty uneventful from the windward mark boat point of view.  At around 12:30, we thought we heard a few rumbles of thunder.  A few minutes later, 2 C-130’s flew pretty low overheard.  It took us a little while to remember that air show was happening over at Quonset Air Force base, and that “thunder” we heard was actually a live fire display.  Anyway, back to the racing.  Around the time of the 4th race, the breeze built to around 10 knots and quickly got to around 15 knots.  After getting a few short races in, the decision was made to go to 2 lappers, except for 1 or 2 short ones in the Sunfish class.  The day ended with 7 races.  On Sunday, we were greeted with light air and fog.  After a short postponement, the breeze was looking promising enough to get a course set with a 5 knot southerly.  The Lasers got off without a hitch, but just as they were rounding the windward mark, dense fog came in fast and the race had to be abandoned.  About 20 minutes later, the fog cleared and the breeze seemed stable enough to start again.  Close to the next start, the breeze slowly shifted and by the time the Lasers got to the windward mark it had shifted almost 45 degrees.  Another abandoned race.  A few big shifts back and forth and a 15 knot sea breeze filled in quickly around 1 o’clock.  Even after the threatening fog and light breeze, both classes got 4 races off.

I was a mark boat driver on the Laser/Sunfish circle, so I didn’t get a chance to check out the other circles, but judging from the party, everyone had a good time.
A great thing about this regatta was that it attracted a large age range.  The bugs had the youngsters, the V 15’s had the college/20-somethings, and the Laser/Sunfish had anywhere from 13 to 72.  In fact, it was a 16 year old that won the Sunfish class.

Since it has already come up, a quick word on the use of “World”.  Yes, they did call it the “World Open” this year.  Yes, ISAF called them on it.  From what I heard, due to the short time period that spawned this regatta, Laser Performance already had the T-shirts made.  Because of that, they were allowed to keep it.  I was not there for the whole explanation, so I won’t comment anymore.

Overall it was a good regatta and should be able to attract more boats in the future.

Dan Rennie
AKA “Snow Guy”