Lasers in the chop
“Sit down, shut up and hang on!” is a popular Laser bumper sticker, and it applied to Monday night’s Lake Tahoe Laser Fleet racing.
Surveying the 20 mph gusts and white caps on Lake Tahoe from the boat ramp, Dan Hauserman summarized what many of his fellow competitors were thinking:
“I wouldn’t mind owning a radial rig right now.”
The radial sail that Hauserman was referring to is one of two smaller sails made for the Laser sailboat. The optimum weight and height for the boat is around 185 pounds and 6-feet-2-inches tall.
Because many people who race the boat do not fit this profile, a smaller sail was created for lighter people to be competitive in heavy winds. The radial sail will be used for the first time for the women’s single-handed class in the next Summer Olympics.
Meanwhile, back in Tahoe, all 10 competitors went out in full sails and had great fun reaching out to the race committee boat.
“Reaching in a Laser is one of life’s great joys,” racer Matt Clark said. “The boat takes off, skipping across the tops of the waves with immense spray in your face while you’re clinging to maintain some sort of control. The power in these little boats is amazing.”
This power was shown immediately at the start of the first race as David Adolphs capsized in the first of many competitors’ crashes throughout the night. The rescue boat stayed close by as many people spent time swimming, trying to right their boats.
Jim Granger made use of the boat when one gust broke his mast and he was left floundering in the middle of the first race. He was able to make repairs and return for the third race.
At the front of the pack, Clark, Hauserman, Buff Wendt and Stan Eriksson were battling it out for the top three positions over the course of the three races held on the night.
Winning the first race, Wendt was thrilled.
“I love to sail in wind, but it’s rare that I beat the guys in these conditions, so this was a fantastic night for me,” she said. “Several of us will be competing in the Master’s Nationals in San Francisco this summer, so it was good training for those races, which will be held in similar winds.”