Granger takes A fleet laser races on Lake Tahoe
In spite of a menacing-looking lake and sirens on departing rescue boats at the Coast Guard Station, 20 laser sailors showed up undeterred for the Monday Night Laser Raciing Series on Lake Tahoe.
The small craft advisory flag flapped briskly from the adjacent Coast Guard Station as the sailors stood in the parking lot surveying the wind, waves and floundering power boats in the 20-plus knot winds on the lake.
“It’s amazing how much wind these boats can be sailed in,” said Luke Fredericks, one of the racers on Monday night. “The trick is keeping them upright.”
And that proved to be the challenge of the evening.
“I rounded a mark with Eriksson and Granger and the three of us hung on for our lives,” A fleet racer Dan Hauserman said. “I’ve never gone so fast in my laser; it was phenomenal feeling, somewhere between sheer exhilaration and pure terror. I just wondered how we were staying upright and not crashing into each other, as I was barely in control of my boat.”
Others were not so lucky in the various races.
“I rounded the first mark and went for the jibe, and at the same moment a huge gust slammed me into the face of a wave, filling my cockpit with water,” said A fleet racer Matt Clark. “The weight of the water slowed my boat handling and I was capsized. That same gust also capsized two other boats in the top four.”
Jibing in heavy winds is a mastered skill in a laser. There are two ways to turn a sailboat.
One is called tacking, where the bow, or front end of the boat, goes through the wind.
The other is a jibe, where the stern goes through the wind.
The difference is noticeable even to the novice sailor, as the sail flaps and moves slowly in a tack, whereas in a jibe the sail flies rapidly across the boat. The momentum of the sail swinging across the boat can cause the end of the sail to dip in the water, which rounds the boat up and capsizes the boat and sends the sailor swimming. The sailor must then swim around, grab onto the dagger board and use their body weight to slowly right the boat.
To add insult to injury, it is not uncommon for the boat to flip back on top of the sailor, leaving them to try to right the boat a second time.
At the end of the evening, Jim Granger, Justin Casey and Stan Eriksson took the races in the A fleet and Chaco Mueller, Kiwi Moore and Courtney Taves finished first, second and third in the B fleet.
The scores of the top five evidenced how tough the sailing was, as almost everyone had a deep race.
Jim Granger 9 pts
Justin Casey 11 pts
Stan Eriksson 12 pts
Buff Wendt 12 pts
Dan Hauserman 17 pts
Chaco Mueller 5 pts
Kiwi Moore 6 pts
Courtney Taves 7 pts
Brad Tyler 12 pts
Jacob Freepons 15 pts