Ski-sail competitors take on conditions
Another unique-to-the-Sierra event had competitors skiing down the slopes, and sailing across Lake Tahoe this past weekend.
The 10th annual Protector Ski and Sails National Championships, a two-part competition, was held on the slopes of Squaw Valley USA and the shores of Lake Tahoe.
The competition was separated into three different classes. Each class represented a different size and style of sailboat.
The divisions consisted of Melges 24, Vanguard 15, and Laser boats.
The 24-foot Melges are operated with a four to five person crew. The 14-foot Vanguard teams are made up of two competitors. And a single sailor mans the Lasers.
Each team competing received two different scores, and one overall place – one standing for their time on the slopes, and one for their place in the sailing portion of the competition. The two places were averaged together to come up with an overall winner for each division.
“Some people are great ski racers, and some are really good sailors. Its interesting trying to put together a good team that can compete all around,” said San Francisco-resident Matthew Gregory.
Gregory just returned from New Zealand where he raced on the Stars and Stripes team in the America’s Cup.
The skiing leg of the competition was held Saturday at Squaw Valley. Each team took two turns on a dual style GS course. The fastest time from each heat gave them their first standing.
After the skiing portion the crew of competitors had a small raffle and gathering sponsored by the event coordinator Ralph Silverman. This event was held at the Blue Agave.
The next morning the teams and individual competitors headed down to launch their boats at the Coast Guard station in Tahoe City.
During competition, temperatures dipped down as low as 35 degrees. Snowflakes rested on the bows of the boats as competitors prepared to hit the water.
“No matter how early or late I hold this event, it always seems to snow,” said Silverman.
The competitors wandered around the parking lot trading tips on what type of suit to wear, wet verses dry, telling stories, and comparing the free gear they won at the previous day’s raffle.
“Once that first wave crashes over the bow, it will hit you like a big ice cream headache from the outside in,” exclaimed one sailor.
“The weather is actually quite pleasurable. Usually by start time there is about three to six inches of snow on the boats. A few years ago we had to wear ski goggles it was snowing so hard. But today the breeze is just about perfect,” said Martin Hartmanis of San Francisco.
Dan Hauserman of Tahoe City stood talking with the other boaters procrastinating putting on his wet suit. “I took first in the skiing portion for the Lasers. But there’s some really good sailors here, so I’m in for some trouble.”
This was Hausermans’ 20th year for the event.
“We used to have this event for about five years at Homewood. Then we went over to Alpine for the skiing and the sailing started over at Sunnyside. This is Ralph Silvermans’ 10th year hosting the event. It was originally just Lasers, but now it has grown considerably.”
The competition for the sailing portion proved to be fierce.
Especially when it came down to the Melges 24 division. The first-place team on the snow finished fourth on the water. And as it turns out, the first-place team on the water finished fourth on the snow.
“It was unbelievably close,” said Silverman.
First place went to Stan Eriksson, and his crew. The crew consisted of Gary Wallace, Sasha Spiegal, and father and son Shane and Ross Collins. Ross had the fastest overall time on the ski slopes.
Second place was awarded to Alex Silverman and her crew. Silvermans’ team finished fourth in the ski and first on the water. Her crew was composed of Shane Wells, Carl Smit and Eric Delauries.
Rounding out the Melges with third place was the team of Eric and Stacey Conner with Rob and Gretchen Sproehnle. They finished second in both the skiing and sailing portions of the competition.
The team of Scott Sellers and Matthew Gregory finished third overall in the Vanguard 15 division.
Second place was awarded to 1996 Olympic sailor Nick Adamson, and his teammate Aaron Ross.
Capturing first in the Vanguard 15 division was the team of Matthew Sessions and Avery Patton. They finished second in both events.
In the Laser division Jim Granger from Tahoe City took the third-place spot.
Dan Hauserman, also of Tahoe City, finished second overall.
First place went to Martin Hartmanis of San Francisco. This was his fifth year competing in this event.
“I was glad the weather turned out the way it did. We were lucky it cooperated. There was a similar event held down in San Diego this weekend. They canceled all the events on Saturday due to the weather conditions. Here it was 35 degrees and snowing. So it just shows how hardcore these competitors are,” said Silverman
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