Eriksson quickest of Fleet |

Eriksson quickest of Fleet

Darren Kramer/Provided to the SunStan Eriksson returns to form by winning the "A" Fleet races during the Monday Night Laser Series on Lake Tahoe.

With perfect winds on Lake Tahoe, 18 boats racing and a long evening on tap for this week’s Monday Night Laser Series, the Tahoe Yacht Club race committee decided to raise signal flag No. 3 and check to see if the fleet was awake.

The answer: Apparently not.

Heading up what they thought was the last windward leg, “A” Fleet laser racers Buff Wendt and Jim Granger duked it out for first place, completely unaware that the signal flag called for yet another lap on the course.

“I watched Buff cross the line and there was no horn,” Granger said, referring to the horn that signifies the end of a race.

Usually a long, loud blast is given for first place, with shorter whistles for subsequent finishers. If a racer jumps the gun at the start, however, there is no whistle because he or she is disqualified.

“Since there were so many people over early at the start, I had a moment of hope that Buff was one of them,” Granger said. “Then I cross the line, and no whistle. And then I see Stan Eriksson waving his hand and shouted that we were still racing.”

The seven different race courses are designated by a numeric signal flag hoisted at the start of the race.

“The trouble is, you have to either memorize or carry the flag numbers and the courses that they describe with you,” Wendt said. “I was just thinking that I should refresh my memory by checking the Yacht Club Web site, but I hadn’t. So here I am, in first place, with no idea where I was going.

Wendt wasn’t the only racer who was confused about the course.

“I think Stan Eriksson was one of the few people who actually knew where we were going,” she said.

Stacy Conner of the Tahoe Yacht Club race committee got a kick out of Wendt and others’ misfortune.

“Many of the racers thought that they were sailing a windward-leeward twice around, so we laughed hard when Buff accidentally sailed through the finish line, heard the horn and threw her hands up in the air to celebrate,” Conner said.

The next two races were held with the more familiar windward-leeward course, and far less confusion.

Eriksson held off a consistent Granger for the win in the second “A” Fleet race.

The third race was a shorter course that saw several boats rounding marks at the same time. Eriksson rounded in first place, with Caroline McNally immediately behind. By the time they hit the leeward mark, four boats were in contention for first place.

McNally, who had tactically set herself up to round in first place, held on nearly until the finish, when Eriksson edged her by six inches in the last 30 seconds of a 20-minute race.

“It was a really exciting race to keep exchanging first place positions,” McNally said. “I would have loved to beat Stan, but it’s even more fun to have close, intense competition.”

McNally’s determination and consistent sailing throughout the evening paid off, as she won an engraved glass from fleet sponsor Garwoods for placing in the top three.

The top-three finish was a first for McNally, who joined the fleet last summer.

Meanwhile, the “B” Fleet was rocked by 13-year-old phenom Zach Thomas, who, fresh off the Parks and Recreation sailing program last summer, won both races. The summer sailing program is sponsored by the Tahoe Yacht Club and includes coaching from sailor Bryce Griffith.

“I thought those kids looked really confident with their boat handling skills last summer,” said “B” Fleet racer Brad Tyler. “Little did I know that Zach would hop in a laser and school us in the art of sailboat racing. He had an absolutely fantastic first night in a laser.

“The “A” fleet should be scared, as I’m sure he’ll be challenging them in years to come.”

“A” fleet

Stan Eriksson 5 points

Jim Granger 10 points

Caroline McNally 12 points

Buff Wendt 13 points

David Adolphs 13 points.

“B” fleet

Zach Thomas 2 points

Brad Tyler 5 points

Tony Dahlman 5 points

Mark Oshiro 8 points

Ron Driller 10 points

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