Monday Laser racing returns to Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Monday Laser racing returns to Lake Tahoe

Tony Dahlman
Provided to the Sun
Sun File photo'A' Fleet sailor Nick Pullen, shown in a 2007 race, took the top spot in Monday's Spring Laser Series on Lake Tahoe. Pullen is currently second in the season standings after three races. Stan Eriksson is in first and Todd Jackson third.
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Sunshine and a variety of winds have greeted hardy sailors for the first three weeks of the Spring Laser Series regatta on Lake Tahoe.

Memorial Day was cold, rainy and windy until the sun appeared near the regular 6 p.m. start by the Coast Guard station between Tahoe City and Dollar Point. Air temperature was in the 40s, so while the first race saw some strong gusts and big shifts in wind direction, many of the 11 sailors between the ‘A’ Fleet and ‘B’ Fleet were happy to see the wind die to as little as five knots before picking up somewhat for the third race of the evening.

In these variable, shifting winds, ‘A’ Fleet sailors Stan Eriksson, Luke Frederick and Todd Jackson were able to adapt best, scoring first, second and third prizes at the post-race dinner held at Jake’s on the Lake restaurant. Drew McMillan did likewise to win the ‘B’ Fleet.

Stacy Conner, Tahoe Yacht Club commodore, handled the race committee boat short-staffed, but all commended her for a great job setting fair courses in the shifty conditions.

Monday, June 2 brought medium winds and blue skies as 20 sailors competed in ideal conditions for racing their Laser sailboats, which measure 13 feet, 10 inches and weigh 130 pounds.

Eriksson, Nick Pullen and Matt Clark scored 1-2-3 but were hounded all the way by Dan Hauserman and Jackson, who also sailed fast. The ‘B’ Fleet was treated to an exhibition of speed and boat-handling by Geoff Gardner, who is back in a Laser after several decades. He scored three bullets (first-places), and is rumored to be moving up soon to the ‘A’ Fleet. Paul Kirkland, visiting from New Zealand, was also fast and scored three second-place finishes. Brad Tyler managed third place for the evening.

At the post-race dinner, hosted by Sunnyside Restaurant, Hauserman exclaimed, “We’ll probably see 30 boats this year!” He was impressed by the fine turnout before the lake had warmed up much. “And the fleet has plenty of very fast competitors,” he added.

This past Monday saw some of the strongest winds, mostly upper medium winds of 13 to 16 knots, but with gusts up to 21 knots and some quartering wind waves. Lasers plane like speed boats in these winds, but the gusts did cause many to capsize.

The lightweight Laser is easily rightable, but the racing sailor loses many boat lengths to his or her competitors, and repeated capsizes are tiring. Two boats also experienced broken main-sheet traveler blocks ” the little pulleys that give sailors a mechanical advantage as they trim sails ” leading one boat to retire (quit racing).

The other managed to continue sailing by tying his main sail control line to another line, called “Jerry-rigging” in nautical jargon.

“At times there were upside-down boats all over the race course,” said ‘A’ Fleet sailor Kiwi Moore, who had more than his fair share of capsizes Monday. One of those cost him several minutes in the water as he struggled to untangle his boat from the ground tackle of a racing marker.

In these conditions, Pullen, Eriksson and Clark kept their boats upright and sailed artfully among a competitive ‘A’ Fleet, finishing 1-2-3 for the evening.

Tyler edged out Zach Thomas for first place in the ‘B’ Fleet, with prizes awarded this time at Gar Woods Grill and Pier.

Marc Thomas was third in a valiant effort that included being ejected (like a fighter pilot) from his out-of-control Laser, right in front of Conner and the race committee.

“Not a small man, Thomas achieved spectacular air time in the maneuver,” Conner said.

‘A’ Fleet

Pl. Sailor Race 1 Race 2 Race 3

1. Eriksson 1 1 2

2. Pullen ” 2 1

3. Jackson 3 5 5

4. Hauserman 4 4 4

5. Clark ” 3 3

6. Casey 5 9 7

7. Frederick 2 ” 8

‘B’ Fleet

1. Z. Thomas 2 5 2

2. Tyler ” 3 1

3. McMillan 1 4 “

4. Gardner ” 1 “

5. M. Thomas 3 6 3