Laser Fleet battles blustery conditions in three-race event
Special to the Sun
The winds and waves were up last Monday night for the first time this season, providing great racing and even more spectacular wipeout conditions for the Lake Tahoe Laser Fleet.
Three races were held in the blustery conditions that had all competitors doing some serious balancing acts as they did a dance of completely hiking out to prevent capsizing in the largest of gusts, to quickly sitting on the edge of their boat to avoid capsizing to windward during the occasional lulls. About half of the 12-boat fleet went swimming at some point during the night’s racing.
The first race started with the larger puffs coming from the right side of the course, and both Nick Pullen and Joe Denton capitalized on this by choosing the port side of the gate mark in spite of having to sail a longer distance in hopes of obtaining greater gains by being on the shore side of the course.
A gate is a relatively newer type of mark rounding in sailing where two marks are set at a downwind leg, and the competitors can choose either one to round. It was not completely clear cut throughout the night which side would be a better choice tactically, and in a rare occurrence the fleet split which side they chose.
In the first race the gains were great for Pullen and Denton, although Todd Jackson had no trouble showing off his heavy air upwind expertise and gained great distances each upwind leg. In the end, Pullen placed first, with Jackson behind. Denton lost third place at the finish to Buff Wendt who caught a last-minute wave to surf through the finish line.
The second race continued the drama with a series of capsizes, both upwind and downwind. Sailing exceptionally well for the evening was Kiwi Moore, whose heavy air sailing has improved dramatically over the last couple of seasons.
and#8220;Gone are the days where Kiwi is left behind at the start,and#8221; Jackson said. and#8220;He now is a consistent threat and someone to be watched seriously at all times on the course.and#8221;
Unfortunately for Moore, he death-rolled right before the finish of the second race, allowing several boats to pass him. A death roll is a particularly dramatic capsize where the boat rolls over on top of the sailor with the sail fully extended and usually results in an instant turtle of the boat, which is the mast pointing straight down into the lake. Kiwi didn’t give up the fight though.
and#8220;I knew that I could not right my boat fast enough to beat the competitors immediately behind me, but I thought if I could at least get the boat on its side I might drift across the finish line,and#8221; Moore said.
The strategy almost worked; however, the other boats caught Moore as they all finished within seconds of each other.
In the third race it was a serious battle among Pullen, Denton, Jackson and Dan Hauserman. Again, Denton and Pullen went right, but this time Jackson and Hauserman made large gains by capitalizing on additional winds from the left side of the course. Hauserman had great boat handling, allowing him to round the windward mark quickly, and his efforts paid off by launching him to battle with Pullen leaving Denton and Jackson to battle for third place. Ultimately Pullen won, with Hauserman and Denton in second and third, respectively.
The fleet welcomes all new sailors from beginner racer to expert and will gladly answer any questions regarding Lasers.
and#8220;I just moved to Reno and was a long time Hobie sailor.and#8221; said newest fleet member Wes Lucken. and#8220;This has been a great transition to Laser sailing as everyone has been extremely friendly and welcoming by helping me set up my boat and giving me nightly tips on how to improve my sailing. I highly recommend anyone considering racing to come out and experience some of the best sailing on Tahoe.and#8221;
and#8212; This article was e-mailed to Editor Kevin MacMillan at email@example.com.
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