Sun and shifty breeze greet sailing fleet on competitive evening of racing | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Sun and shifty breeze greet sailing fleet on competitive evening of racing

Buff Wendt
Special to the Tribune

Courtesy of Steve Lapkin / www.h2omark.comTodd Jackson, shown racing his Laser earlier this summer, tied Jim Granger for fourth place during the Monday Night Laser Series this week.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. – Despite warnings of thunderstorms, the skies parted and delivered a nice sunny race course – albeit with extremely shifty winds – for 15 Lasers and four Picos during the Monday Night Laser Series.

Race No. 1 saw John Andron, Jim Granger and Matt Clark duking it out for first place. With a bit of pressure from both the left and right sides of the course, it was extremely difficult to determine whether going into the shore or out into the lake would pay. Ultimately, Andron went out and won the race as Granger and Clark trailed close behind – all finishing from different sides of the course.

The wind dropped dramatically at the start of the second race, which would go to Buff Wendt in an exciting finish.

Wendt won the race to the shore where the wind started to fill in, giving her a substantial lead on the fleet until the last leg, when she sailed into her own hole and Andron, Todd Jackson and Stan Eriksson attacked from both sides of the course.

“There is a saying in sailing, that there are rocks and marshmallows,” said Wendt. “The marshmallows are the ones that you know you can intimidate at the start line and sail over during the course or perhaps convince to tack when you want them to. There is a psychological part to this sport. Rocks are people that you know are going to fight back and put up a strong front.

“Stan was closest to me and he is such a strong light-air sailor. I was starting to get nervous as I could feel the Swedish heat right behind me gaining every tack. As far as rocks go, Stan is Gibraltar.”

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All four competitors finished within two seconds from both sides of the course, making Stacy Conner’s job difficult on the race committee. Wendt held on for the win, with Andron, Jackson and Eriksson all within a quarter of a boat length.

The final race of the evening saw the breeze fill across the course, but ultimately it was shift master Clark who sailed an exceptional race to beat Eriksson and Jackson.

Meanwhile, the Picos were sailing a slightly shorter course and usually ending up in the mix with the lasers mid-course.

When fleets end up on the same part of the race course, the protocol is to follow the standard racing rules regardless of fleets. Of course, this can be frustrating when someone from a different fleet is perceived to interfere with a race.

Andron, who was visiting from San Francisco, tested the marshmallow factor of several of the Pico sailors by trying to convince them to tack or stay out of his wind. It turns out that our local youth are well trained by the sailing schools offered by the Tahoe Yacht Club and Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District. And as Andron quickly found out, our youth are, without a doubt, rocks.

“He pleaded with me to sail a different course because I was taking his wind. That is the whole idea of downwind sailing tactics – take your competitor’s wind and beat them,” said a competitive Ryan Conner, 12. “I was in a close race with another Pico and he was in my way as much as I was in his. I wasn’t about to roll over and give up because he was begging me to go away.”

Graham Holton from Truckee also showed his competitive edge, as he took his first win in the Pico series.