Laser sailing in Dun Laoghaire during 2017

Laser Association Training Officer – Sean Craig asked Dun Laoghaire class captain Ross O’Leary to write a few lines on the really successful local training and racing programme Ross masterminded from April to October in 2017.  Ross was very keen to make things really inclusive and make regular training available to all.  Read his thoughts and ideas here:

DBSC (Dublin Bay Sailing Club) Laser fleet has grown to 30 racing entries and over 40 active Laser sailors in the summer of 2017 – ranging in age from teenagers to ‘60 year old young lads’. It is a diversified fleet of all abilities underpinned by a good social and training structure.

Five years ago the Laser fleet in DBSC was on it’s knees and suffering from lack of participation. With improvements in race management and a separate class start this has steadily grown to be one of the largest fleets in DBSC. To keep the growth going into the 2017 season, a training programme was put in place to keep active Laser sailors involved and to encourage new participants.  So back in early April DBSC Laser Fleet targeted all types of LASER sailors including – Full rigs, Radial rigs, Females & Males, Oldfella’s & Nippers, Wanabee’s & Hotshots,  Absent Parents & Empty Nesters – a message went out “We are looking for NEW VICTIMS RECRUITS!!”

The idea was to mobilize the boats sitting around and encourage more participation from all levels, ages and abilities – no matter what personal goals were:

Your LASER is sitting in your garden…. ???

Your Kid’s LASER is sitting in the club boatyard…???

Your Teenagers don’t want to use the LASER anymore….???

Hotshot LASER sailor – looking for good quality short & sharp racing….???

PUT A RIG ON IT…  JOIN US ON TUESDAY NIGHTS IN DUBLIN BAY!

Traditionally Laser training has been run over a weekend or a full day – this format didn’t suit more mature Laser sailors with family pressures or other time commitments. Long day training sessions with an overload of information might not be the best method of learning for some. So a programme was put in place to concentrate on 3 hour sessions – short and sharp – with an aim to concentrate on one specific skill each session. Friday evenings and Sunday mornings provided the best time opportunities. Often, other members of the family were already down in the club anyway on a Friday evening (eg Junior Oppie racing) or Sunday morning (“Sea Squirts” sailing for the very young). A panel of coaches was sourced, all with different strengths – technical, basic skills, encouragement & confidence building – to cater for all levels of ability.

Each session was on a pay as you go basis (cost never more than about € 15) which allowed sailors to jump in and out of the program as it suited their other commitments. The coaching program ran from May to October. Minimum numbers to run a session was 6 and the largest number we had out was 17 in all types of conditions.  It has to be pointed out the host club, the Royal St George Yacht Club, was very supportive but you’d expect that, since this kind of thing can only help new membership drives.

To give a flavour of the variety in the coaching, here are some videos from one of the October sessions with coach Troy McNamara https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_b1dUhxZ3yYp8CfAwcRPLw/videos?view=0&shelf_id=1&view_as=subscriber&sort=dd

From this programme at least four Laser sailors got the experience and confidence to compete in their first regional laser events. It encouraged five Lady sailors to come back to Laser Sailing after long breaks. More importantly, it has encouraged a lot of new laser sailors of all abilities to join in and improve their sailing while creating a social outlet for all.

For the 2018 season the coaching programme will commence in March. For DBSC racing, we plan to have separate Laser Radial results, targeting more U25’s entries, as the Radial fleet has grown massively, now with many older as well as younger sailors using the smaller sail. Our annual End of Season Regatta ‘Final Fling 2018’ is planned for 29th September 2018 with a repeat afterwards of 2017’s social event and Awards Dinner!

Ross O’Leary

DBSC Laser class captain