Memories made and lessons learned in Largs

Largs, Scotland (Monday, June 28), As Largs on Scotland’s picturesque Clyde estuary takes centre stage when the Laser Radial World Championships begin on July 6th, there will be two main world titles at stake, for Men and in the women’s Olympic single-hander class.

On the long passage to the 2012 Olympic regatta in Weymouth & Portland, the Laser Radial World Championships are an early milestone, an indicator to current and future form, and a chance for athletes to make their mark on the minds of team selectors ahead of the London Games. For many sailors this event may prove crucial in cementing their place in their Olympic squad.

As an international sailing venue Largs has provided many unique memories for top sailors, coaches, some treasured and others which served as a vital catalyst on their upward career trajectory.

In 1991 when the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships were staged at Largs, a fascinating duel developed in the Boys’ Laser class between two future world stars who were very much on the ascendancy, Brazil’s Robert Scheidt and New Zealand’s Dean Barker. Barker, who went on to steer the race which clinched Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup win in 2000, arrived in Scotland as the defending Youth World Champion.

Scheidt, who has now won four Olympic medals - two gold and a silver in the Laser, and eight Laser world titles - reached Largs on peak form and hungry for success after an intensive winter high winds training at home, and in Scandinavia.

The Brazilian, who went on to win his first gold five years later in Atlanta when the Laser class made its debut, dominated conclusively, winning 10 of the 11 Laser races sailed in the Largs Channel and off Great Cumbrae island.

“It’s going back a bit,” smiles Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand’s skipper and helm, “I remember the venue was quite tricky. It was quite landlocked but the sailing conditions were good and over the course of the regatta we got a little bit of everything. In general the weather was pretty good. Robert had put a lot more time and effort into it and came in firing. The biggest lesson for me there was in terms of preparation. I was a bit relaxed going into it, and Robert was fully motivated.”

“We stayed in the town in a guest house by the venue and it was pretty nice. The scenery was great, very similar to New Zealand and we felt pretty much at home.”

Gustavo Martinez Doreste, a double 470 worlds medallist and now a top Spanish helm with the Islas Canarias Puerto Calero team from his native Canary Islands, came to Largs in 1991 as a 16 year old:

“I remember it was all green and a little bit cold for us, from the Canary Islands, but I have lovely memories from there because I was very, very young and learned a lot there. We were only 16 and finished second. We were leading the championship until the last race when we capsized. It was very, very windy. We were very young with not much experience. But I did a very good championships with my crew Dimas Wood.

“I remember it was a very, very good event and we were very welcome there. We stayed close to the club and walked there every morning. It was a very beautiful place, so much different to the Canary Islands.
“I will always remember it as green, with big mountains, trees and really friendly people.”

Britain’s four times Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie is no stranger to Largs:

“Most of all you do tend to remember Largs for the scenery, but ashore it is a fairly typical British seaside town, with plenty to do. On a clear day it is stunning. On the water there are plenty of challenges and usually over the course of a championship you will race in different areas in different winds. It can be quite tidal and that needs to be a consideration.”

And Scotland’s double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson comments:

“Largs is the perfect sailing venue. The spectacular scenery, good race management, shore entertainment, and of course, the infamous ice cream makes for a fun regatta, whatever the age.”

Jim Saltonstall MBE, who was an influence on a number of British Olympic sailing medallists and world champions over a number of years, has spent many weeks coaching and observing at Largs:

“I have lost count how many times I have been there. I personally believe that Largs is one of the best sailing venues in Great Britain, from a national and international point of view. There is very easy access to international airports and the facilities in Largs to host any major event are really excellent.
“As with any venue there is a lot to be taken into consideration on the water. If it is near spring tides then there can be a lot of water rushing around, but studying the charts carefully and you can play the tide card to your advantage. As regards wind sea breezes can be there. If the Azores High is in the area you will be waiting for a thermal sea breeze. That can come from the SW or the NW depending on the gradient wind effects. But in the summer months you can usually expect a good variety of conditions.”
“And ashore, the fish and chips and ice cream at Nardini’s are not to be missed.”


Racing Schedule

Laser Radial Women’s and Men’s World Championships

Pre charter period Monday 28th June to Monday 5th July
Registration and Measurement Tuesday 6th to Thursday 8th July
Practice Races and Opening Ceremony Thursday 8th July
Qualification Series Friday 9th to Sunday 11th July
Final Series Monday 12th to Wednesday 14th July
Prize Giving Wednesday 14th July

Photo: Laser Radials racing in Largs at the 2009 RYA Volvo Youth National Championships. Credit Marc Turner/RYA.
Further information.
Laser Worlds Press Office Phone +44 7775 671973
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  • RYA
  • UK Sport Lottery funded
  • Event Scotland
  • North Ayrshire Council
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • Hayling Island SC
  • Scottish Sailing Institute
  • Largs Sailing Club
  • Havent Council
  • Sport Scotland
  • Scotland Sailing Centre Cumbrae
  • Largs Yacht Haven