The inaugural RC (Radio Controlled) Laser Australian National Championship was held on the waters of Iron Cove, Sydney Harbour over the weekend of 15th/16th August.
Host club, Dobroyd RC Lasers, could not have hoped for better weather for this landmark occasion with Sydney turning on two brilliant winter days of summer weather that had competitors discarding the woollens and grabbing for the sunscreen.
Local sailor Graham Brown emerged as the title winner with an outstanding performance of consistent sailing. The NSW team celebrated a clean sweep with Paul Derwent, also from Dobroyd taking the silver and Pat O'Brien from the Drummoyne Radio Yacht Club taking bronze. Fourth place also went to NSW with Daniel Weizman from the Kogarah Bay Yacht Club faltering on the past few races with gear problems after looking certain to be packing one of the major trophies into his kit bag.
To add variety, the event was held on Saturday at Dobroyd Aquatic Club and Sunday across the water at Leichhardt Rowing Club. Throughout the two days, the winds were predominantly in the A sail 3-6 knot range, peaking at about twice that on Sunday afternoon giving the B sails an outing.
A nor'westerly buster predicted for Sunday never made it across the Blue Mountains. Congratulations also to Paul Derwent who picked up silver and Pat O'Brien who took the bronze. The event ran like clock-work under the control of Allan Bicknell (PRO), Matt O'Donnell (Boatman), Jill Rowe (Scorer) and Doug Burnside and Phil Page (Race Observers). I'd also like to acknowledge the contribution of the many individuals whose efforts made the event run so smoothly and successfully. Well done to all of the competitors for making this a regatta that was about fair competition, enjoyment and friendship. The full results will be available in due course on the ARYA web-site. I don't plan to write a more detailed story about the two days but rather invite competitors, officials, friends and spectators to post comments, stories and ancdotes about the weekend.
The next championship event is the West Australian state title to be held in Perth. The local contingent are already talking about a trip south to try and lift the trophy .
The RC Laser is one of the most popular professional level radio controlled yachts in the world. A quarter scale model of the iconic Laser dinghy, it was designed by renowned yacht designer Bruce Kirby and is sailed all around the world. According to Derwent, the advantages of the RC Laser are its one-class design, its rugged construction and superior sailing performance. “Another thing I love about the RC Laser”, says Derwent, “is that to travel to interstate regattas, we simply check the bag onto the plane just as we would a suitcase. It is that easy”.
Radio controlled sailing is a rapidly growing sport in Australia appealing to enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels. The boats are entirely wind-powered and the skills involved are essentially the same as sailing a full-size dinghy – ability to tune the boat, manoeuvre for position at the start-line, pick wind shifts, trim for boat speed and round buoys are all essential skills for the front-runners. Although there is a lot of skill involved at the top level, an attraction of the sport is that novices are able to quickly master the basic skills. Even championship events like this one attract and welcome sailors of all levels.
For information about joining Dobroyd RC Lasers, contact Paul Derwent on 0416 855-626 or visit ‘www.radiosail.com.au'
Paul Derwent, a sailor with Dobroyd Aquatic Club sailed skilfully to pick up gold at the NSW 2009 Radio Controlled (RC) Laser state championship held at Rodd Point on May 31st.
Derwent sailed consistently well throughout the day using all of his local knowledge to gain advantage over a strong contingent including an experienced team from Melbourne.
The title-holder, Dave Padden, also a member of the Dobroyd Aquatic Club showed his class on numerous occasions during the day but lacked consistently and had to settle for sixth position this year.
The group of southerners, including father and son Peter and Brendan Lee, from the highly competitive Waterways club in Melbourne's southeast, were sailing at the venue for the first time and applied constant pressure at the head of the fleet. At the final count, the silver medal went to Scott Fleming and the bronze to Simon Dubbin, both from Waterways.
Derwent said after coming off the water, “The competition today has been outstanding which makes the win particularly pleasing. This is the fourth NSW title we've had since the RC laser was introduced to Australia and after picking up third placing in each of the first two events, I was hoping to improve on my second place at last years event.”
There were many notable performances including John Lamey from Penrith who managed seventh position despite having his first outing with a RC Laser barely two months ago.
Derwent, president of the host club commented, “The best thing about this championship was the spirit in which everyone raced. We were all trying to win each race but never at the expense of fun and fair play. This is a hallmark of RC Laser sailing and a credit to the sailors and to the Principal Race Officer, Pat O'Donnell.”
The weather had looked foreboding with heavy rain overnight but in the end turned on conditions that were very good although frequently challenging due to the wind strength and direction changing regularly throughout the day. “The winds were certainly challenging”, remarked Derwent. “Some races were largely won on sail selection and local knowledge was undoubtedly an advantage – particularly in helping to pick wind shifts and where to sail on the course”