VICTORIAN LASER SAILORS at the World Laser Masters

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Published on: 28 November, 2014

There were five VLA Laser Master sailors in the very large Australian contingent at the recent 2014 World Laser Masters’ World Championship. Thirty six countries were represented among the 499 entries. This was a massive organisational exercise with five starts each on two separate courses. It was very challenging for the organisers, but it all worked amazingly well, albeit with some problems.

The five Victorian starters were:
Peter Creak, PMYC, Apprentice Laser Radial
Gavin Dagley, PMYC Grand Masters Laser Standard
Dave Kershaw, Indented Head SC, Great Grand Master Laser Radial
Clive Humphris, Indented Head SC, Great Grand Master Laser Radial
David Wyllie, PMYC, Great Grand Master Laser Radial

Gavin had the stand out performance finishing 6th in the highly competitive Standard GMs and just outside the cubes. He won a heat and finished 2nd in two others.

Peter finished a credible 22nd in the Appentice Radial.

The Radial GGMs had 77 starters with Keith Wilkins (UK) the winner after a close series. Dave K finished 38th, Clive finished 45th and David W finished 28th.

There are not many venues that handle so many boats and the facilities at Hyeres were strained. The fact that most of the UK and European entries could trail their boats resulted in the large number of entries. Some action photos from the event can be viewed at .

Next year’s event will be in Kingston, Canada in July 2015

Sarah Blanck Regatta 2014

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Published on: 27 November, 2014


An amazing weekend was had by everyone who attended the all-female coaching regatta over the weekend of November 8th/9th for Laser, Sabre and Opti class sailing boats.

I was lucky enough to head up an outstanding all female coaching team of Tanya Stanford, Caitlin Davies, Jessica Case, and Megan DeLange coaching the Sabres, Melissa Hitchen-Haw and Belinda Brett-Stowell lending their experience and expertise to the Lasers whilst Eliza Solly nurtured the Optis. So for all groups it was a fantastic and exciting opportunity to learn and meet from some of our top female sailors in the country.

With incredible support from Westernport Yacht Club members, especially Peta Pietromonaco, and a host of others such as Lou Hutton (PRO) and Glenys Hitchen to mention a few who made the event possible and come together whilst maintaining a fantastic fun atmosphere and fostering great sailing camaraderie.

The Saturday produced challenging conditions right from the start with a gusty offshore breeze greeting the girls after briefings from their respective coaches. At the end of the session and de-briefings everyone had lunch between much excited talking and laughter!

The afternoon session centred on short races with more close quarter coaching. It was amazing to see so many improve incredibly quickly and try so hard all day even when energy levels started to wane.

Sunday gave us a better day with gentler winds and a similar format to the Saturday with renewed energy after a good night’s sleep!  Boat handling and race craft skills visibly improved over the whole weekend by all the groups.

With the sailing concluded by the afternoon, prizes and beautifully sculptured trophies by local Portsea artist Jos Law were awarded.

With such a great group I hope to see you all again next year and maybe bring some friends!!



Fading Memories

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Published on: 27 November, 2014


Way back in about 1973/74 the Victorian championships were being held at Mordialloc Sailing Club for a relatively new class of single hander yacht….the Laser! The championships had attracted a larger sized fleet than most classes of the day, even though it had not been in Australia that long, of about 40 boats.

The Laser has gone through some minor evolution in that time. We had a mix of early Canadian made imports, nine thousand series numbers, with the newer Australian made boats with sail numbers well under the 20,000 mark, yes count the zeros! The Canadian boats had teak grab rails and tiller, all came with wooden foils, no ratchet block, no bailer just a hole, stretchy plastic traveller rope and vang (no turbo here), simple downhaul in 1:2 ratio with no blocks allowed, forget trying to adjust your outhaul anywhere except on the beach, car seat belt for a hiking strap, no fancy Velcro clew holder, and only in a standard rig! However, we had the luxury of all the groovy 70’s colours such as bright orange, baby blue, canary yellow, lime green, white, red etc. none of which matched the cream deck!

Saturday morning dawned with the fleet rigged and just about to leave the shore when a well loved and used green VW bug coughs to a halt close to the break wall rocks resplendent with a slightly battered lime green Laser on the roof. Note it is attached by only one roof rack at the front and tied to a bit of the bent up chrome window strip at the back, with spars sticking out of the side window at all angles! A super casual guy with wavy long hippy hair climbs from the driver’s seat yawning and rubbing his eyes from lack of sleep (?) and drags the boat off the roof, over the car, over the gravel, and down over the rocks leaving lines of green fibreglass behind whilst waving any help offered away saying it’s all cool! Who is this guy? Obviously he has no idea of the effect of a smooth bottom in the light winds we were about to face! He then pulls this crumpled “slept in look” sail from the car (no new sail every regatta in this era) and proceeds to rig up. It was about now my anxiety had set in that I was going to be late for the start line so like most I left the beach leaving this “dude” to rummage in the back of his car for some blades, cleaning what looked like dried pizza off them?! Who is this guy?

I didn’t really see him again that race…..he was so far out in front of most of us doing battle with Mr Clean’n tidy Andrew Foulkes for first place, that I went home and questioned what was really important in sailing and even life…forget polishing the hull and sanding my blades smooth!! So, ever since that day it never surprised me to see the name Tim Dorning at the top of the results sheets…wonder what happened to him and his long hair??

Ps : I notice there’s a guy with the same name sailing a boat every now and again in masters called “the bald & the beautiful”……….nah… couldn’t be??! Who is that guy?

Zhik announced as naming sponsor for VLA events

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Published on: 27 November, 2014

photo for Zhik article

The VLA are thrilled to announce that Zhik will be the naming rights sponsor the three major regattas being conducted by the VLA this season 2014/15.

The three regattas are the Australia Day regatta, the Laser States and the Laser Masters.

The Zhik website is and the main dealers in Victoria are Sport Phillip Marine, OTB Marine and Power Drive Marine so please give them your support.

Zhik would love to receive your photos/videos of Laser sailors in their Zhik gear so please forward them to us.

Photo courtesy of Ben Hartnett.

Sail Country incorporating the Vic Dinghy Championships.

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Published on: 27 November, 2014

Sail Country

On the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of November, Derby day w’end in Melbourne, the Albury Wodonga Yacht Club hosted the Sail Country Regatta incorporating the Vic Dinghy Championships. Traditionally the AWYC have their “Sail Country Regatta “on this weekend, so they worked with Yachting Victoria to incorporate the Vic Dinghy’s on the same weekend. It worked. With over 130 boats competing including 35 Lasers, the lawns of the club were always a hive of gentile activity.

The host club had the club and canteen open serving the first coffees and breakfast in the morning through to freshly made lunches and right through to wood fired pizzas at night. There was always an air of genuine country hospitality, with nothing being a problem. Most families camped on site which made for an even more enjoyable weekend experience.

The weekend started with briefing being delayed due to a rain cloud landing on us right on briefing time. Eventually this cleared and we were on the water for the scheduled 4 races of the day.

On the Radial and 4.7 course:

Race1: glorious conditions in about 8 knots (westerly) sun shine and fresh water, everyone got the nerves settled and about 35 minutes later the first race was run and won.

Race 2: off everyone went only to be met with a massive pressure increase part the way through the 2nd half. We were informed later that the average was 23 knots with a gust recorded at 31knots. No need to explain what happened with multiple retirements being recorded.

Race 3, 4: All other fleets were sent ashore from the three separate race courses. The Laser Radial, Laser 4.7 and Finns stayed out and completed another two races after the breeze had moderated slightly.

This is a testament to the standard we are now seeing in both the Radial and 4.7 fleets in that they stayed upright and sailed on. Well done to all those competitors for your perseverance and stamina.

On Sunday we were greeted with an earlier start time and beautiful conditions again coming out of the west. By race time the breeze had filled in and was shifting around a lot, so you had to be right on every shift. As we all say and hear at every regatta “these are not the normal conditions” more on that later.

On the Full rig course 4 races were sailed bringing their total to 6 races and over on the Radial and 4.7 course, 3 races were sailed bringing their total to 7 races.

The full Results are available on the website but here are some of the podiums.

Full rigs:

1st David Buckley

2nd Rob Hartnett

3rd Jan Talacko


1st Rhett Gowans

2nd Alexander Jurovic

3rd Tony McPhail


1st Tyrone Gowans

2nd Brody Riley

3rd Jack Lewis

Given that most schools and businesses make a long weekend out of this weekend, the State Opti team and Laser high Performance groups stayed on for the following two days. The host club again had full catering running and the weather settled into “this is what we normally get” conditions. They are pretty nice conditions particularly after the previous two days.

If you get the chance and it looks like it will be on again next year, grab a tent and your laser and do this regatta. Set in ideal surrounds with a friendly atmosphere if will not disappoint you. (I am not part of the host club) The children loved it so much, that when they were asked at the presentation “do you want to come back next year” it was definitely a “YES”.

Krystal Weir Retirement

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Published on: 27 November, 2014


Krystal has announced her retirement from Olympic sailing. The details of the announcement can be found at

On behalf of the Victorian Laser Association I would like to say how proud we are of her achievements & to have her as a member of our association. Krystal has supported our state regattas by competing in them whenever possible & represented Victoria with distinction at both National & International level. Krystal proved gender is no barrier in a Laser Radial- there are not that many male sailors in Australia who can say they beat Krystal Weir in a regatta!

When Krystal embarked upon her sailing career, leading eventually to Olympic representation, we did not have the sailing pathway of Optimist- Minnow/4.7/ Laser Radial as exists today or the class training programs. I am hoping that Krystal’s achievements will inspire our current group of young female Laser sailors to believe they too can be world champion if that is what they want. To quote Krystal “Believe, Dream, Achieve. No limits in Life.”

We wish Krystal all the best in her professional career as a physiotherapist & also in the sport of sailing. Who knows one day she may return as a Laser Master!

John d’Helin

President- Victorian Laser Association.

2017 Laser Worlds awarded to Australia

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Published on: 27 November, 2014

At the ILCA council meeting last week in Europe it was announced the world championship event for Laser Standard (Men), Laser Radial (Women) & the Laser Masters will be held at the Adelaide Sailing Club in 2017. The intention is to hold the open events in January & the Masters in February.

This is great news for Laser sailing in Australia & should help the Laser districts increase their membership. The total number of places allocated to a country in a world event is proportional to the number of members.

The sequence for Laser world championships is now 2015- Kingston, Canada; 2016- TBA, Mexico; 2017 Adelaide, Australia.

It’s not too early to start training!

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