Clark wins Lake Tahoe Laser Fleet race
Undeterred by the thunderclouds looming over the lake and the ominous smell of wildfire in the air, the Lake Tahoe Laser Fleet prepared for its weekly races Monday evening.
With the immediate threat of becoming 17 individual lightening rods having passed, the sailors set out in light, fluky winds determined to enjoy a night of sailing.
“It’s always a challenge to sail in light winds,” said Geoff Feige, one of the Laser Fleet competitors. “It’s less physical than sailing in breeze, but one mental lapse or jarring movement in the boat and you can stall and be miles behind.”
Just starting a race proved to be challenging for the race committee.
“What direction has the wind not come out of in the last five minutes?” a frustrated Stacy Conner asked as the race committee boat did 360s around its anchor, the wind rotating from south to north before briefly settling in from the east.
Traditionally, sailboat races are started into the direction of the wind, which is usually from the west at the Lake Forest venue. But the wind on Monday had switched so many times between the east and west prior to the start, Conner was forced to make a rare announcement that the fleet would head to the east buoy first, then sail to the west buoy before finishing heading east back to the committee boat.
As is typical with fluky conditions, sailors went from first to last to first again.
Jim Granger jumped ahead of the pack with a solid start, then held a good lead until the wind filled from the north. Because Granger was farthest south, his sails didn’t fill as quickly as the other boats, and Todd Jackson quickly swiped the lead around the windward mark.
But being first isn’t always easy in these conditions.
The wind filled again from the south, leaving Jackson stranded as Ralph Silverman, Geoff Feige, Justin Casey and Buff Wendt blew by. Meanwhile, on the inside, a northerly Matt Clark made a huge comeback with his own personal puff, and to the shock of the leading foursome, rounded the west mark first.
Silverman and Clark battled it out to the finish line at the committee boat. Clark got there first to take first place, leaving Hauserman, Feige and Wendt battling for third.
Hauserman had the third-place spot wrapped up when the wind switched again from the north to the south, leaving him drifting.
Caroline McNally sailed by Hauserman from a deep position to finish fourth while Geoff Feige took third. Wendt then inched by Hauserman to take the fifth spot.
“That is the agony of light air sailing.” Hauserman said. “You think you’ve almost secured a position and then next thing you know, you lose three places because your competitors have just the slightest bit more breeze and they beat you by six inches.”
A Fleet: Pts.
Matt Clark 1
Ralph Silverman 2
Geoff Feige 3
Caroline McNally 4
Buff Wendt 5
B Fleet: Pts.
Chaco Mohler 1
Jim Claussen 2
Gary Moore 3