The “Laser”, in case you aren’t a sailor, is a single-handed racing dinghy that measures a little over four metres in length. First seen in 1969, it has grown to become the world’s most popular sailboat, with nearly 250,000 sold to date. In 1996 it became the Men’s Olympic single-handed dinghy and in 2008, for the Beijing Olympics, it was introduced as the Women’s single-hander. Annalise Murphy, from the National Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire, sailed one of these to an Olympic silver in 2016 in Brazil.
Old soldiers may fade away, but old sailors, well, they just keep sailing. The Laser’s popularity over the past 50 years has endeared it to many of the world’s greatest sailing athletes. Each year they come together to compete for the coveted title of Master’s champion. To qualify as a Master, you must be over 35 and meet the entry criteria set down by their national body governing the sport. Masters race in divisions according to their age and while most of the athletes are aged in the 35 to 45 age bracket, some are in their seventies. These “Legends” are some of the world’s finest yachtsmen.
dlr has played a key role in making this event possible, providing both financial support and facilities to the organisers, who won the right to hold the event after an international tendering process. The Royal St George Yacht Club and National Yacht Club will host and run the event with the Harbour Company providing much needed space on the Carlisle Pier. Approximately 400 sailors from over 40 countries will compete. Together with their extended families, an international race jury, race officials and the army of 200 volunteers, it means there will be lots of activity around the town, making this essential viewing for the public.