The 2008 Laser National Championships, sponsored by Bacardi, were held at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club last weekend and were widely regarded as being the most successful championships the sailing club has hosted for years.
‘We have not seen such a large number of Laser competitors since the 1980’s when the Sailing Club was located on Seven Mile Beach, in the position now occupied by the Great House’ said Andrew Moon the Cayman Islands Sailing Club Commodore.
A total of 16 Laser dinghies entered the championships and the racing was extremely competitive.
Both young and old sailors battled it out over seven races, fighting for every available point, in the series that left the competitors physically and mentally exhausted after the two days.
Veteran Laser sailor and Olympian Mark Clarke, who hasn’t raced Lasers in 10 years, surprised and impressed the fleet by challenging the mainly younger group of racers and finished second overall.
Nick Taylor who was part of the New Zealand Olympic squad and who has only been in Cayman for two months, came first overall.
Charles Grover, CISC Communications Officer, said: ‘We were all hoping the strong winds that Cayman has been experiencing over the last couple of week would persist and, although conditions were relatively light on the first day, we were not disappointed as the winds strengthened on the second day.’
Three races were sailed on Saturday in winds of 8-10 knots with Mark Clarke winning the first race.
New Zealand national, Nick Taylor, 32, won the second and third races.
Sunday’s strong and shifty wind made for more challenging racing.
Four races were sailed and once again it was a battle between Clarke and Taylor, each winning two races.
In the end Nick Taylor won overall with 9 points over Clarke’s 13. Mike Weber, CISC Sailing Director, finished third with 18 points.
Mark Clarke was also the recipient of the Compass Marine Clydesdale Trophy for top sailor in the heavyweight division. Stuart Jennings was top youth sailor.
Jon Faris, the CISC dinghy representative said: ‘The Sailing Club is excited at the addition of Nick Taylor, a keen, talented sailor and experienced coach, to the local fleet.’
Taylor said: ‘Having just arrived in Cayman I am very impressed with the quality and enthusiasm of the Laser fleet. It was a great weekend of racing and I thank the volunteers for organizing a great regatta.’
No doubt, everyone in the fleet will be upping their game next year, benefiting from the presence of Taylor, and the re-emergence of Clarke, who is shifting his attention toward Laser competition.
Indeed, CISC Race Officer, Peta Adams observed that regardless of the dominance of Taylor and Clarke on the results sheet, the front of the fleet was remarkably tightly spaced with lots of challengers looking forward to their moment of glory.
The regatta was a culmination of a successful year of Laser sailing at the Cayman Islands Sailing Club, with the fleet having grown to 20 sailors taking part in competitive weekly racing.
Next year promises to be equally exciting as racers of all ages share their experience and challenge one another to improve their skills and excel as sailors.
To view the full race results please visit www.sailing.ky