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Lasers dominate 2017 Battle of Classes

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The 90 minute pursuit race held on the first Sunday of the YachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Show saw the two representatives from the Laser class finish 1st and 2nd.

The annual pursuit race is a fantastic show case for the diversity of the UK Dinghy sailing scene,  with this year seeing boats ranging from RS Teras to B14 Skiff,  with sailors from 12 to 80 years old.

Results after a close tussle around the race course, Joseph Drake took the winning gun from fellow Laser sailor Craig Williamson


Held on the first Sunday of the YachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Show and open to dinghy class associations to enter two boats representing each of their boat types.

The 2017 Battle of the Classes was a great show case of the diversity of the UK sailing scene, with entrants ranging from the 9 foot RS Tera junior single hander through to the eighteen foot three person National 18 class. With ages ranging from 12 years to 80 years, nearly a third of the entries were made up of youth and junior sailors.

The fleet gathered at the excellent Southampton Water Activities Centre, situated on the banks of the River Itchen with sheltered launching. The experienced race management team from Royal Southampton Yacht Club, had an early reconnaissance trip out to the race course in front of the Southampton Boat Show Marina, where they found sunshine with a light and shifty northerly breeze.

First off were the young ladies in the RS Tera Sports, with 12 year old Adelicia Lavendar and 13 year old Lizzie Foster leading the charge. Over the next five minutes there was a succession of junior sailors starting, with Giles Baker (Topper 4.2), William Sunderland (RS Tera Pro) and Scott Wilkinson current Topper World Champion. Joining this group of single handers was top Comet sailor Bob Dodds.

The Byte class sent a strong four boat team, with two each of the new carbon rigs (CI and CII), including both their respective National Champions, Rik Whitehouse and Louis Saunders. The Byte team formed the bulk of the starts over the next few minutes.

Next off were the Laser Standards of Craig Williamson and Joseph Drake, fresh back from taking 2nd and 3rd places respectively at the 2017 Laser National Championships. This duo were joined by Kev and Jake O’Brien representing the 2000 Class and the RAF Sailing Association.

The faster single handers completed the next start time with Mike Lyons sailing big rig Halo and the asymmetric RS100 of Steven Lee.

The next start saw the two Ospreys get away, with Emma Stevenson and Tim Bowden, joined by National Champions Terry Curtis and Peter Greig.

The penultimate start consisted of the largest boats in the race, with the magnificent National 18s, sailed by three, with single trapeze and large spinnaker. Helms Ben Vines and Maria Richards, squeezed their boats into the small start line.

Finally 36 minutes after the RS Tera Sports had started, the B14 Skiff of Geraldine and Chris Fermor set off looking to close the deficit on the slower boats.

At the front of the race the slower boats had made good advantage of the earlier breeze and favourable tide, with the Topper World Champion Scott Wilkinson pushing for the lead, but unfortunately coming unstuck by missing out one of the marks. Louis Saunders, National Byte champion then took charge but with 15 minutes to go was overhauled by the faster Lasers of Craig Williamson and Joseph Drake and the Wayfarer of David Roberts and Michael Bryant.


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