The Laser Class continued a strong legacy at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy this month with a successful UK Qualifier pulling sailors out to start the season of racing. The Laser, created by Bruce Kirby at the end of the 1960s, has a long-term connection with Weymouth and Portland.
Since its humble beginnings at the majority of the local UK South West sailing clubs, the Laser has flourished across 140 countries worldwide with a global fleet of over 200,000 boats.
As well as bridging the gap between youth and adult Olympic racing, the Laser is still hugely popular for national regattas, attracting big fleets. The Weymouth connection is especially evident through the successes of Sir Ben Ainslie winning his first Olympic medals in the Class.
Sir Ben Ainslie, Director, WPNSA
“I have been racing Lasers in and around Weymouth since I came out of the Optimist Class and went into the RYA Youth Squad. The Laser class is special to me, as it is where I have met some of my closest and long-term friends who I travelled with all over the world for Laser events.
Lasers and Weymouth will always hold an important place in my heart, as it is where I took part in my first Olympic trial selections during 1995 when I won the spot to represent GBR at Atlanta 96. Weymouth Bay was where we spent not just hours but days training ahead of the selections in every wind condition imaginable – it will always be the venue that shaped me into an adult sailor.
It was so reassuring to return to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy in 2012 for the Olympics to be with a home crowd at a favourite race location.”
Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy continues to provide the Class with an exemplar venue and will work to support and continue the future of such an important Class in the dinghy racing world.
Dorothy Beadsworth, Association Secretary, UK Laser Association
“The Laser Class has been racing around Weymouth now for over four decades. We have seen a big development in the fleet from a fun sailing-club dinghy to the Olympic discipline it is now, in both the men’s and women’s fleets, with a massive worldwide following. The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy has put our UK events into a first-class environment with fantastic launching capabilities for our large fleets and ample square footage ashore for parking and dinghy storage. Both Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay are ideal locations for our regattas, as they provide the class with a large uninhibited racing area. It has been wonderful to watch youths starting in the Laser 4.7 and Radial classes graduate up through the RYA Youth Squad and go on to represent their country at the Olympic Games, all within the Laser Class family, and Weymouth has been an important part of that development.”