Six sailors were treated to the most ideal start to a laser season seen in a long time last Monday night. Conditions started out windy and wavy, thrilling visitors Dorian Haldeman from Annapolis and Wink Saville from Santa Cruz.
The first race started with Stan Eriksson taking a solid lead and never giving it up for the entire race. Buff Wendt and Saville battled it out for second place, with Wendt passing Saville on the downwind leg and maintaining her lead.
The second race had lesser and more inconsistent winds. Although once again Eriksson rounded the first mark in first place, the fluctuating wind left room for Wendt and the others to catch up.
“I rounded right behind Stan and immediately decided to go after him,” Wendt said.
The wind was filling from both sides of the course with minimal wind in the middle. Sailing to the stronger wind velocity side of the course was critical, but it was hard to predict which side that would be and inevitably the fleet split sides, making it hard for all to cover their competitors.
Wendt and Eriksson decided to go left and lost cover on Rick Raduziner, who picked up a favorable shift on the right side the course and went from 10 boat lengths behind to finishing third just an inch behind Wendt. The finish was so close, both Wendt and Raduziner thought Raduziner had finished first.
With still fading winds on the third race and Eriksson rounding the windward mark in a solid first place, this time it was Raduziner who took a shot at catching the leader. This time 16-year-old Ryan Conner, who usually races with a radial or smaller sail but came out to battle in his larger sail, came on strong and stole the first-place spot from Eriksson, who was thrilled.
“We watched Ryan take his first steps in the boat ramp parking lot as a baby,” he said. “How fantastic to have him beating all of us now. We all want him to compete against us now and skip the radial fleet.”
Eriksson finished second and Raduziner third.
Since the weather was so beautiful, a fourth race was held. This time Wendt rounded the windward mark in first place but quickly lost her spot to a faster Eriksson and Raduziner on the inside. However, in the end, Conner again showed his upwind strength to finish second to Eriksson while Wendt took third.
The takeaway from the evening was that whoever tried to take on Eriksson directly, ended up losing spots to other people who split off to the other side of the course.
“Stan is so fast,” said Raduziner. “We think it had something to do with his Swedish ritual plunge into deep water at the dock. We thought he would freeze but instead it obviously lit an internal fire as he was unstoppable.”
Eriksson said it was not a Facebook challenge but a misstep onto his boat that sent him swimming.
“I think he should do it every start of the season, especially if I can beat him one race,” Conner said.
Races will continue on Monday nights at 6 p.m. at the Lake Forest boat ramp. The fleet welcomes newcomers. Contact Raduziner via the Tahoe City Yacht Club for more information.