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Over the first week of the April school holidays, WALA together with South of Perth Yacht Club organised a 4-day intensive training clinic for the Laser 4.7 fleet. The event attracted strong interest with 26 WA sailors registered including a 10-strong female contingent. The camp was run by Ben Walkemeyer, well supported by experienced coaches Ryan Palk and Ki Raphael Sulkowski. It was fantastic to see not just such a strong number of sailors in the 4.7, but also great to welcome sailors of all experience levels to the camp; a very healthy sign for laser sailing in WA.
Day 1 was far from a gentle introduction, with a strong and gusty 20kt+ easterly challenging all the sailors. Ki separated a silver fleet of less experienced sailors early to work on their skills, while Ben and Ryan used the opportunity to build the sailors fitness with long upwind hiking drills between Point Walter and the freeway. The session concluded with two races contributing to the overall camp series dubbed the ‘Swan River Pro’.
An absence of wind to start Day 2 may have lulled some of the sailors into a sense of relief for their sore bodies. Ben had other ideas and started the session with land-based training. Mercifully, the wind came in, allowing the fleet to hit the water with a focus on starts and boat handling. Fading wind allowed only a single race toward the Swan River Pro, though with National Champion, Romë Featherstone, away sick and several sailors being disqualified (BFD), the competition was blown wide open.
Day 3 was similar with light conditions to start, gradually building over the afternoon, and allowed all the sailors to combine in a single fleet to focus on strategy and tactics. The evening was the camp dinner with plenty of pasta for hungry kids and coaches, and a cake to celebrate Connor Shaw’s 12th birthday. Drama exercises run by Serena Kipling were a great laugh and helped the sailors get to know each other better.
The final day was planned to focus on racing, and a full trapezoid course was laid. Competition was fierce throughout the days 4 races, with the Swan River Pro being taken out by Finn O’dea. Oliver Pabbruwe and Bruce McKinnon took out the minor placings while Bee Allison claimed the female title. That said, while the competition was an enjoyable aspect of the camp, all the sailors finished the camp having put in a huge effort and improved their sailing skills while having a good time and making new friends.
Many thanks must go to Dave Whait whose efforts made a large number of boats available to sailors transitioning into the Laser, Tristan Brown for some prizes (& good luck over east), Tessa & Mikael at SoPYC for their support and organisation, Serena Kipling for arranging dinner (Moreica & Glenda also) and drama exercises, and Paul Wise at HYC for his efforts towards achieving such a high female participation.
Planning has already started around running a similar camp in the July school holidays. Tentative dates will be announced shortly.

An added note - Thank you to Mike Coote for initiating this idea, and coordinating the event and getting it off the ground. It was a fantastic program, and i am sure has assisted our young sailors to better their skills and confidence. We had sailors who were just transitioning, right through to sailors attending the World Titles later this year in attendance, and they all came away with not only new skills, but comradeship, new and bonded friendships, and the formation of a gun team now and into the future to have WA continue to be the Laser champion state. Well done Mike. DW

17.04.16 14:57 Age: 2 yrs