© James Ward© James Ward©

Chairman’s 2015 Season Welcome and GREAT8

James Ward - 23rd January 2015

Hello Larkies!

Firstly a belated Happy New Year to everyone, I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and Santa brought you all lots of new sailing kit and bits for your Larks.

2015 is going to be a fantastic year for the Larks and once again a year of change and evolution for the class. Lots has been going on behind the scenes over the last few months and I am very excited to be finally able to announce a few of them.

The 2015 Committee

2015 will start with a number of changes on the committee. Laura Lilly has stepped down from her role as Fixtures Sec to run off into the sunset with her Cornish lover Ryan Crawford, last seen in Costa Rica, we wish them all the best on their adventures. Our new Fixtures Sec is none other than Nigel Scott. Nigel is currently one of the longest standing Lark members in the fleet and a previous chairman himself. I’m thrilled to have Nigel back on the committee and it just goes to show, if you have done it once there is no reason why you can’t do it again. Welcome back Nigel.

Karen Falcon has stepped down as Membership Sec, which has paved the way for rock star crew and multiple dinghy racer Rach Rhodes to step up as our new Membership Sec.

Adam Parry, relatively new to the class has put himself forward to be the new Nationals Coordinator. This role has been vacant for a while and it is great to have someone like Adam and all his experience of Championships across a number of classes, as well as his enthusiasm for the Lark on the committee heading up ‘The Big One!.

Harry Pynn, another previous committee member who has stepped back up. This time as Website Editor. Watch this space as he is busy working on a new look class website, coming later in 2015.

Another change is Charlie Roome moving from Website Editor into the Treasurer role. Taking over from Helen Krailing who has been fantastic over the last couple of years and has really helped us as a class to understand the class finances a lot better. Charlie has a strong finance background which is going to be hugely beneficial and he has already identified some areas the class can save money and re-invest into membership benefits and events.

Steve Hall has moved from Technical Sec to our Chief Measurer. When it comes to knowing a Lark inside and out there is literally no one better in the class. Steve over the winter has been busy re-writing the class rules to ISAF standards and we look forward to seeing all his hard work later in 2015.

As for the rest of the committee, no change (for now!) and you can see all our handsome and beautiful faces on the committee page on the website here.

THE GREAT8!!

So that’s the change, now onto the evolution. Many of you have been giving us feedback of late on what we can do to improve the circuit each year. More sea venues and less events comes up a lot, as does better venues and sharing with other fleets. We felt we needed to ‘re-charge’ the circuit and give it a whole new look. To make it more of an open playing field and an exciting new format to make people want to travel and compete for an overall position throughout the year. To bring the competitive feel all year long back into the Lark fleet where it doesn’t matter if you are racing for 1st overall or 25th overall, everyone is fully into it! We wanted to reinvest our prizewear budgets and ramp up our sponsorship to ensure fantastic prizes are available at every event and not just at the end of year overall prize giving.

So.. I give you the ‘Helly Hansen GREAT8 2015’!!

8 key events throughout the year across the country, which includes the Nationals, and a variety of some of the best sea venues available, mixed with challenging reservoir, estuary and pond venues. The circuit will include the Nationals for the first time in recent history, possibly ever, which will count for 2 events. Results will be worked out on a teams best 5 ‘GREAT8’ open meetings or their best 3 plus their Nationals result. Which ever is better!

The GREAT8 opens this year at South Staffs, one of the largest Lark clubs, with a 2 day event over 21st/22nd March. We then move down to the Lark classic at Rock over the May Bank Holiday 2nd-4th May. Next up is Lyme Regis, (our 2016 Nationals venue) on 6th/7th June.

A new Lark venue in the form of Dabchicks on the East Coast’s Mersea Island on 13/14th Jun, another brilliant and challenging sea venue. Followed quickly by another East Coast classic at Royal Harwich on the 4th/5th July. After a short break to prepare boats and get some last minute training in on and off the water it’s time for ‘The Big One’ The Lark National Championships at Saundersfoot, Wales from 1st -7th Aug. Remember, this event is worth 2 x GREAT8 results!! After a week of battling it out in Wales we have another break to allow body and boats to heel. Until 26th/27th September, when we are off to one of the best Reservoir venues in the country, Datchet, for our Inland Championships. Last but certainly not least we finish the GREAT8 season in another Lark favorite, the brilliant sea venue and amphitheater that is Plymouth for our ‘Final Fling’ I think everyone can agree that is quite a amazing circuit!!

We are very lucky to have the GREAT8 title sponsored by Helly Hansen. Helly Hansen have been getting more and more involved in the class over the last couple of years and it is great to have our new National circuit associated with such an amazing international sports clothing brand. The sponsorship will mean that there will be incredible Helly Hansen prizes to be won at every GREAT8 event and not just at the end of season prize giving. These prizes will include high-ticket items like Jackets and Fleeces at every event. We also intend to hand out the prizes down through the fleet as the season goes on to ensure as many people as possible benefit from this awesome sponsorship agreement.

For now, we will be retiring the Belle Isle, however all Belle Isle trophies will be awarded for either the same categories but within the GREAT8, or changed to a different category to go inline with the GREAT8 prizewear structure.

The class will continue to promote Lark open meetings, regattas and any other events where Larks can enter throughout the year around the Helly Hansen GREAT8 and any Lark or none Lark club is of course welcome to put on an event, and the class will support it, promote it and attend it. However the Helly Hansen GREAT8 events will be our ‘Premium’ events each year.

This is a major change in the history of the class but a change I feel is needed. It is also the right time to do it.

So we now have a new circuit, a new format, fantastic venues, a brilliant sponsor and excellent prizes, we the committee have done our bit over the winter to bring this to you, the Lark sailors, we are incredibly proud of what we have come up with, but it is over to you now.

Ultimately the success of the GREAT8 and the class in general is down to you supporting it, coming to the events and giving the new structure a try. So get the dates in the diary, and come and get involved in some of the best racing you can find in the UK.

I am personally very excited to see who will become the first ever ‘Helly Hansen Lark GREAT8 Champion’!

MAY THE BEST SAILORS WIN!!!