Lasers wrap up season with regatta |

Lasers wrap up season with regatta

Jill Casey/Provided to the Sun"A" fleet racer Todd Jackson sails with a smile during the Lake Tahoe Laser Fleet's finale this past weekend. Jackson was awarded this year's spirit award.

The racing was challenging and the winds temperamental at Stampede Reservoir as Nick Pullen and Courtney Taves won the “A” and “B” fleets at the Kip LaRieu Tahoe Laser Fleet Championships over the weekend.

A record 28 boats participated in the regatta, which drew several sailors from the Sacramento, Bay Area and Santa Cruz regions.

“(Nick) Pullen has been winning this event for a long as I can remember, with the exception of the year that he borrowed a sinking boat,” said “A” fleet runner up Dan Hauserman. “He often wins most races, and even when he’s behind he has the incredible ability to come back up through the fleet.”

Pullen started the event with a wake-up call from Caroline McNally, who decisively won the first race in light and shifty winds. Later on in the six-race regatta, Pullen was over early at a start that put him in last place. Walt Spevak, from the Bay Area, won that race, and he and everyone else in the fleet saw their opportunity to beat Pullen, including his wife Buff Wendt.

“As I rounded the last mark, Nick was still miles behind,” Wendt said. “He’s a former Canadian national champion and it’s been a standing joke that I never beat him Laser sailing. I was mid-fleet and he was so far behind me at that point, I figured that he could not possibly catch me so I concentrated on staying ahead of the boats immediately around me.

“I was engaged in a tacking dual with the boat closest to me, which I won, only to look over my shoulder to see Nick finishing just ahead of me with a big grin on his face.”

Wendt’s fellow fleet members are also very familiar with Pullen’s sailing abilities.

The other person who received a first place in the “A” fleet was Stan Eriksson, who worked hard to insure that he kept Pullen behind him.

“When Nick is behind you, your lead is never safe,” Eriksson said. “He’s helped our entire fleet become better sailors and I’m always pleased when I beat him.”

In the “B” fleet, Courtney Taves also dominated the field.

“She just sailed very consistently and shifted gears well to keep great speed during both the light and the heavy winds that we saw throughout the races,” said fellow “B” fleet sailor Brad Tyler. “The racing was challenging because you constantly had to figure out which side of the course the next wind would fill from, and the winds were not consistent. We had great fun watching the “A” fleet in one start, where a violent gust from the left capsized half the fleet as the start gun went off.”

Back on land, “A” fleet sailor and regatta organizer Justin Casey and race committee official Stacy Conner awarded the regatta prizes, as well as the Whitey Cup ” an award honoring the memory of Eric Conner.

“We’ve lost three fleet members over the years,” Casey said. “Our Stampede regatta has always represented sailing hard and having the most possible fun camping out over the weekend.

“Kip LaRieu, Shana Eriksson and Eric Conner were friends that always were great competitors, lived life to the fullest and made sure that everyone around them was having a great time. They are sorely missed.”

Winning the spirit award this year was “A” fleet sailor Todd Jackson for embodying all of these qualities over the season and the weekend.

Newcomer Tom Klenke was impressed with the event.

“I’ve been to a lot of regattas over the years, and it’s rare to be able to bring the whole family to an event where they have as much fun on land as I do on the water,” Klenke said. “It’s easy to watch the sailing from the land, the camping was great and the kids had a blast playing together; we’ll definitely be back.”

The regatta wraps up the Laser sailing for the season. The fleet will be starting again at the end of May, 2007.

Anyone with a Laser is welcome to join the fleet. Information can be found at the Tahoe Yacht Club Web site at

A fleet

Nick Pullen 7 points

Dan Hauserman 18 points

Walt Spevak 24 points

Stan Eriksson 24 points

Caroline McNally 26 points

B fleet

Courtney Taves 4 points

Brad Tyler 9 points

Will Rogers 14 points

Tony Dahlman 14 points

Ron Driller 18 points

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