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Battling it out on Big Blue

Provided to the Sun"A" Fleet sailor Caroline McNally crosses the finish line during the second race of the Monday Night Laser Series on Lake Tahoe. McNally placed fourth overall in points behind Jim Granger, Matt Clark and Stan Eriksson.
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The Tahoe Laser Fleet had a perfect evening of moderate wind for its longest night of the racing season Monday. In both the “A” and “B” fleets, the racing was varied and punctuated with a lot of lead changes between the 20 boats entered in the weekly competition.

The “A” Fleet featured Stan Eriksson and Jim Granger battling it out for most of the first race. Approaching the finish line, however, Matt Clark squeezed in between the two for second place behind Eriksson, leaving Granger in third.

“Matt Clark’s downwind boat speed is really incredible,” said “A” fleet racer Tom Klenke. “He’s managed to make an art form of doing ‘S’ turns all the way down the leg.”



Klenke was referring to the rather difficult task of heeling the boat to turn it away or into the wind while trimming the sail. Heel is the nautical term to describe how much the boat is tipped over one way or the other from the upright position.

“Your body position is extremely critical in sailboat racing,” Clark explained. “We constantly have to adjust, whether we are leaning in or out of the boat, as well as front or back, depending on wind or waves.”



In the second race, Clark improved on his score with a first-place finish. He was followed by Granger and Dan Hauserman.

In the last race, Eriksson was back up front with a huge lead, leaving the rest of the fleet closely spaced and fighting for rights at each mark rounding. The rules governing who has the right of way are complex in these situations, with sailors in certain positions being required to prove their rights, if an ambiguity exists.

“With five boats piled up all trying to round the mark at the same time, there’s bound to be disputes,” said Caroline McNally, who found herself arguing with Clark over who had an inside overlap at a leeward mark. “In larger regattas, these issues are often resolved in a formal protest in front of a panel of judges. Here, we are more self-policing, but we will occasionally hear protests in front of the fleet.”

Protests arise when unresolved conflicts have occurred, and often comes down to the best presentation in front of the judges. Knowing the rules very thoroughly becomes critical in such situations.

As it was, the conflict between McNally and Clark was left unchanged, although it made for an interesting topic of debate between the fleet members over dinner.

Ultimately, the final race saw Eriksson produce a definitive win, with Todd Jackson narrowly edging Clark and McNally for second place.

Eriksson placed first on the evening by way of a tie-breaker with Clark. Ties are broken by counting who has the highest finishes.

In the “B” Fleet, sponsoring restaurant Jake’s on the Lake in Tahoe was well represented by employees Mark Oshiro and youth sailor Ryan Hackbarth.

“The racing was extremely close for the entire fleet,” Oshiro said. “The mark roundings were always competitive with several boats vying for the best position, which is not the norm for our fleet.”

Oshiro had several personal bests, winning not only an individual race but the overall on the night. Also winning individual races were Brad Tyler and Tony Dahlman.


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