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2018 Laser National Championships

Langebaan, October 2018

Twenty one standards, seventeen radials and eleven 4.7's attended the Laser Nationals, ten of whom travelled from KZN, three from North region and two from George Lakes Yacht Club in the S. Cape. The event was held over three days, 5-8 October in Langebaan and what a fantastic three days it proved to be.

Thanks must be given to Langebaan Yacht Club and Colin Whitehead for their assistance in getting it all together with the entire Keytel family doing an awesome job with the organisation of the event - the new trophies, the prizes from the sponsors and KZN Rush sports, Giel and his family for his catamaran used as a committee boat and everything else needed to turn it into an amazing few days.

Bruce Keytel and his team on the race committee, safety and mark laying made sure the racing courses were great, starting each day's race on time. The weather was superb for racing with both Friday and Saturday's winds a steady southerly of between 12 to 18 knots and when Sunday arrived with a northerly it was thought there might be little sailing but by 11.00 the direction moved to southerly and a 12-15 knot steady breeze gave the sailors just what they wanted. And to top it all each day was with lovely sunshine and not at all cold.

Racing in each fleet was very competitive as can be seen on the results. The Marcia brothers kept the front of the standards on their toes and the radial fleet were chasing Cullen Keytel while the 4.7's were similarly chasing Tristan Tomlinson.

Laser Standard podium

International judges, Dave Hudson and Luke Scott, did on-the-water judging which added another dimension to the event, keeping the racing fair and the competitors happy. There was only one yellow flag and only one protest the whole weekend.

Laser Radial podium

The event was characterised by simple and effective organisation, launching from the beach, the race office was a holiday apartment on the beach and secure boat parking just off the beach in the adjacent car park.

Laser 4.7 podium

What more can be said, a great venue, good winds, fair sailing, 9 races and happy, tired sailors.

A big thank you to all competitors for their attendance, especially Campbell and Jerome with their team from KZN and to the sponsors, Rush Hi Performance, Havaianas and RVKA.

The Laser Class AGM was held on the Saturday afternoon with the committee being largely unchanged except for Campbell Alexander taking over the Chairman role. This ties in with the planning of another awesome Nationals in KZN next year, probably around April, so only 6 months away. Time to get training.


2018 W. Cape Championships - Laser Classes

Langebaan, April 2018

Nature played a major role in making this one of the best sailing events of the season.

Day one started with no wind whilst trailers and sailors arrived on the beach to unload. At the same time organisers were running around trying to find marks, boats and all the rest of the paraphernalia needed to run an event for 31 boats - mainly Optimists - on the small boat course and 74 on the big boat course, 25 of which were Lasers.

As the day progressed towards the 14:00 scheduled start the wind obligingly started to pick up so that the fleet could launch off the perfectly firm, sandy and wave free beach to head downwind to the start. Unfortunately the organisers weren't quite as well organised as the wind so sailors had to hang around waiting patiently for marks and committee boats to find their way to the course. By around 16:00 (16.35) everything came together and the first race took place in a perfect 12 knots breeze. There wasn't time for a second race so everyone headed back to the shore, pleased to have at least have had one great race but a bit disgruntled that so much time had been wasted.

Saturday dawned with prospects of more breeze in the morning and the sailors were raring to go for the scheduled 10:00 start. Again the organisation was not in tune with the wind but at least this time they kept the sailors on the beach while they got their ducks in a row. The breeze remained steady in the 12 to 15 knot range with maybe the odd 18 knot puff later in the afternoon which provided excellent and exhilarating sailing. The race committee put in race after race and by the end of the afternoon there were plenty of tired but satisfied sailors making their way back to the beach having sailed 4 races on the trot.

Sunday was another perfect weather day and again there were some delays in getting the races going but they were short lived and the race committee put in another 4 races back to back before the cut-off time of 14h30. In the end the small boats had sailed 10 races - they managed two on the first day and ended up with two discards - whilst the big boats had completed 9 races.

Prize giving was a bit delayed as well but all sailors went home having enjoyed some of the best sailing that this country has to offer. Ali Keytel won the Standards carrying two seconds and the rest bullets whilst Calvin Gibbs won the Radial carrying only bullets. The competition behind each of these stars was very competitive with plenty of youngsters giving an older sailor a run for his money in the Standard fleet and lots of highly motivated youngsters vying for selections in the Radial fleet behind Calvin. In the 4.7's Damita Olsson narrowly beat Tom Raynham by just a single point.

Overall the event had perfect breeze with some wind blown chop and a bit of swell coming from the ocean in a different direction. The gently oscillating breeze also provided great tactical sailing. The beach launching and boat parking was also great with no hint of security issues. Another bonus of the venue was that there was plenty of accommodation available despite the fact that it was still school holidays, either camping a few kilometres down the road, or a variety of B&B's on the beach, or within walking distance. Shops and restaurants were also readily available within a few hundred meters. One has to ask why only the Hobies and board sailors have been using this venue for the past number of years. Well done to SAS WC for making arrangements with the Parks board so that us dinghies, could also enjoy this prime venue this year.

I for one am looking forward to the Laser Nationals at the same venue in October.
Alan Keen


Laser Rule Changes

In 2017 there were four rule change proposals put forward before the ILCA class membership for vote. All four changes were approved by more than two-thirds of voting members in addition to being approved by the World Council, the Advisory Council and World Sailing, all of which are required in order to modify class rules.

Class Rule Changes Approved
Effective beginning 1 January 2018

1) Electronic Compasses
Rule 22 was changed to allow the use of certain electronic digital compasses that are not GPS Enabled. ILCA will maintain a list of approved compasses on the ILCA website as an interpretation to the Class Rules. This rule change was approved with 81% "Yes" votes.

Click here to see the electronic compasses that have been approved for use after 1 January 2018.

2) On-board Cameras
A new Rule 28 was added to allow the use of cameras while racing. This change was approved with 84% "Yes" votes.

3) Shock cord inhaul attachment
Rule 3(v)vi was amended to read "A shock cord may be used as an inhaul on the clew." This change removes the restriction on where the shock cord can be attached in the inhaul system. This change was approved with 89% "Yes" votes.

4) Cleat in Hiking Strap Control Line
Rule 17(c) was changed to allow the use of one cleat and one turning point in the hiking strap support line. The cleat and turning point must be "free floating" and may not be attached to the hull or the hiking strap. This rule was approved with 81% "Yes" votes.

For additional details about the rule changes, please see the announcement on the ILCA Website.


New Class Rule Interpretations
ILCA has approved several new rule interpretations that are effective immediately. ILCA Rule Interpretations are put in place to clarify existing Class Rules. Many of these interpretations are subsequently proposed as changes to the ILCA Class Rules.


1) Approved Compasses List
In support of the rule change allowing electronic compasses, ILCA will maintain an online list of approved compasses that meet the requirements of amended Rule 22 Compass, Electronic Equipment and Timing Devices in the interpretations section of the ILCA Class Rules.

2) Control Line Eye Splice
Rule 3(b)ii is interpreted such that the for a control line with a cover and a core, the cover may be removed near the load bearing attachment point for the purpose of making an eye splice.

3) Sail Buttons
The Laser Construction Manual requires that class legal sails must have attached near the tack an ILCA supplied sail button. The Fundamental Rule is interpreted to require that Standard MkII sails must have an orange sail button while Radial, 4.7 and older Standard MkI (cross-cut) sails must have a red sail button. This applies only to sails manufactured after 1 January 2001.

Upcoming Rule Change Proposals
The Technical and Measurement Committee suggested several new rule changes that were approved by the ILCA World Council to go before class members for a vote in 2018. The ILCA office will send out a special announcement in early 2018 with information and voting instructions.

New ILCA Chief Measurer Appointed
At the November 2017 ILCA World Council Meeting, Aileen Loo of Singapore was appointed as the ILCA Chief Measurer, to serve until after the 2020 Olypmic Games.Please see our story on the ILCA website for details.

Best regards,
The ILCA Team


Laser Class Announces New Composite Top Mast

The class legal composite mast will be available in early 2017.

5 December 2016

The International Laser Class Association (ILCA) is pleased to announce the release of a class-legal composite top mast section that is expected to be available for purchase in early 2017.

Because the new mast was designed with the exact same weight and bend characteristics as the existing aluminum upper sections, it will not provide a performance advantage but instead will eliminate the permanent bending problems associated with the aluminum spars.

"ILCA's policy regarding the introduction of new equipment is that it should always have the same characteristics as the existing equipment and that the new equipment should not give a performance advantage when raced alongside existing equipment," says ILCA Executive Secretary, Eric Faust. "The composite mast definitely meets that objective. It's been tested by some of the top Laser sailors in the world and they all agree that they can't determine any difference while sailing."

According to ILCA Technical Officer, Clive Humphris, "The new top section has been rigorously developed and tested over the past six years to assure that it is a 'like-for-like' part with the current mast. The advantage is that the new mast will be much more durable and won't be prone to permanent bending like the aluminum masts."

ILCA President, Tracy Usher, agrees. "I've sailed with a prototype composite upper while training in a wide variety of conditions -- I couldn't tell any difference between having this spar on the boat or using an aluminum one. I sail the same way and the boat seems to behave the same way. Everything felt the same."

"This is going to make Laser sailing easier for everyone," adds Usher. "Sailors won't need to carefully align their mast rivet when rigging or worry about straightening their masts after a day of heavy air sailing. It's going to be a big improvement for everyone!"

Because the composite mast is now a fully approved change to the Laser Construction Manual, there is no need for a change to the Laser Class Rules. As long as the mast is purchased from an approved Laser Builder or one of its authorized dealers, it will be legal for use at all ILCA sanctioned events.

The new mast specifications have been developed in close cooperation between the approved Laser Builders, World Sailing and ILCA. Because the composite top section is class legal and it will not provide any advantage in performance on the water, neither ILCA nor World Sailing anticipate that the use of the composite mast will need to be restricted for any future events. If it is subsequently determined that the use of the mast needs to be restricted, this will be controlled by Notice of Race on an event-by-event basis.

For more information contact ILCA: office@laserinternational.org


2016 Laser National Championships

The 2016 Laser Nationals were originally scheduled to be held on Algoa Bay, hosted by Algoa Bay Y.C. and Redhouse Y. C.. However, due to concerns with the relationship between the Ports Authority and ABYC, it was decided to move this event to Swartvlei Lagoon, Sedgefield, with Knysna Y.C. coming in as the co-host, replacing ABYC. This decision was met with concerns from several Laser sailors that it would be a light wind event. As it happened, there was strong wind on all four days of the regatta and these concerns were unfounded. Being an inland venue, it was more acceptable for many who would not have participated in an offshore event and the entry was larger as a result. The Lasers had 65 boats, the largest being the Radials with 37 boats, 16 Standards and 12 Laser 4.7s. A large proportion of this entry came from the local S. Cape clubs (KYC and GLYC), who had 23 boats sailing. Other entrants came from Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

The first day, Saturday, had a gusty wind from the south west. Four races were sailed with many exhausted sailors coming ashore afterwards. On Sunday, the wind had switched to the south east, where it remained for the remaining days. Two races were sailed, before the wind had increased to over 25 knots and conditions had become too extreme. This allowed the organisers to set up the prizegiving for the E. Cape Championships in the afternoon. Monday also had two more races for the Lasers, with the wind once again getting too strong in the afternoon. On the last day, three final races were held, making for a total of 11 races, which allowed for two discard races.

Competition at the head of the Radial fleet was tight, but Asenathi Jim was consistently in front, to take the gold medal. He didn't win all the races - his main competition came from Georgou Divaris, who was able to take two race wins from Asenathi , to finish in second place. Third place went to James Hellstrom, who also had a race win, keeping Dylan Long off the podium.

In the Standard fleet, Alastair Keytel wrapped things up, but it was Justin Onvlee who put in a charge, winning the final races, but not quite enough to unseat Alastair from the top step. Third place went to Marcello Marcia, leading Youth sailor.

The Laser 4.7 fleet had a strong team from Knysna Y.C. with Sanele Magquaza leading in this fleet in the first half of the event, but then it was Cullen Keytel dominating at the end to win overall. Sanele dropped to second, with Apenduli Maneli taking third place, ahead of club mate JP Kriel.


2015 Eastern Cape Championships - Laser Class

With the Southern Cape clubs being re-incorporated into SAS W. Cape, SAS E.Cape had to select another venue in their area to host the 2015 E. Cape Championships and the selected venue was Wriggleswade Dam, outside Stutterheim. The event attracted 75 boats, with Mirrors (sailing National Championships) and Optimists - 18 boats each, being the largest classes.

The Laser fleet had just 11 boats, but two of these were Dabchicks, included as they have a similar rating to the Laser 4.7s. Thus just 9 Lasers. Five of these came from the S. Cape, i.e. just four from the E. Cape.

Tim Jones was the sole standard rig Laser, sailing at the front of the fleet against the Radials of Georgou Divaris, James Hellstrom and Megan Robertson. Eleven races were sailed over three days, in light wind (<12 knots). Only one race could be sailed on the final day. Tim could not put any distance ahead of the Radials, thus suffered on handicap. Divaris and Hellstrom shared all the race wins between themselves and James Hellstrom took the Championship by a point clear of Divaris. Tim Jones was third overall. Megan Robertson was 4th, 3rd Radial.


2015 Laser National Championships

Sixty boats sailed in the 2015 Laser Nationals , offshore Durban, over the May 1 long weekend and what a fantastic time we had! Everything about this regatta was top class, from the race organisation, to the "new" beach site facility and of course the ideal weather conditions.

The weather forecast predicted strong winds on day 1 with light weather thereafter so most of the "marginal" sailors chose to sail Standard rig ( or radial for the ladies) rather than change down to a Radial or 4,7. In actual fact every "next day" was just as strong as the last so most of the sailors had really good Workers Day Workout. The machos, of course, revelled in the conditions of strong winds and big seas. Some of those reaches were absolutely mind blowing.

It was great to see Rudi McNeil back in the fleet, having just limbered up at Richards Bay on the previous weekend. He took bullets in 7 of the 10 races to secure the Gold medal. Rudolf Holm had a mediocre first day( he didn't attend the practice session at R Bay!) but gradually overhauled Alistair Keytel to take 2nd place .Grand Master Colin Dibb from Australia was only a point behind them in 4th. First youth was Marcello Marcia sailing his first season on the big rig. With a first and 2 fourths he will certainly be the next guy to watch.

In the Radial fleet you would have to look at the results sheet to see how close the racing was , with Dylan Long, Calvin Gibbs and Georgou Divaris all finishing within one point of each other. Sam Lombard was close behind them in 4th spot.
Praise must go to the six ladies who absolutely sailed their hearts out in the strong conditions. First lady overall was Iliana Boura who mixed it with the boys on several races ( a 3rd two 4th s and a fifth) to come 7th overall.

In the 4,7 fleet ZVYC sailors took the top 3 slots ( the more you practice ...?) with Kai Leslie the overall winner. Sarah-Jane Deary had a great regatta to finish in 2nd place. Elsje Dijkstra , fresh out of oppies, sailed brilliantly, with 2 first places, to take 3rd slot.

Thanks must go to Campbell and his team for the organisation, to Race officer Tony Cockrell and his team and especially to Kevin, Peter and the guys on those wet bumpy rescue boats for keeping us safe on the water.

At the awards ceremony some lovely prizes were awarded by lucky draw and thanks must go to Garden Route Sailing, Central Boating, SuperSail Wilderness and Sail Benoni for their contributions.

For another report, with interviews with Rudy McNeil, Alan Keen, Campbell Alexander and Dylan Long, click here