Enjoying good sailing at Lake Tahoe
Two guaranteed berths in the J24 2007 World Championship in Puerto Vallarta drew a strong 19-boat fleet for the J24 Western Region Worlds Qualification at Lake Tahoe last weekend, with the overall win going to Keith Whittemore’s Seattle-based Tundra Rose. Ryan Cox, of Dublin, Calif., also qualified with a second-place finish aboard USA 3324.
The Lake Tahoe Windjammers Yacht Club played host to the racers the weekend of July 15-16, and conditions played along with consistent 5-10 knot northerlies for all five races. The race also served as a backdrop to the American Century Championship, a popular annual celebrity golf tournament, giving the fleet some brief national television exposure, spinnakers flying.
“We had some good racing, some close racing, a couple protests,” said Windjammers Commodore Howard Stevens. “We had a little bit of everything.”
Racers made the trip to 6,200 feet elevation for a dip in fresh water from California, Oregon, Washington and even as far away as New Mexico. New Mexico entry Kachina had to borrow a J24 mast from Tahoe-based Half-blind Monkey after its was damaged during the long drive.
Dubbed the “Big Blue II,” this is the second one-design race hosted by the Windjammers in as many years. In 2005, the Moore 24 class put in at Tahoe for one its regular season regattas. Next year, Stevens said the small club is working on getting the Olsen 30 racers here.
And race director Brian Mullen didn’t discount the possibility that J24 racers would return to Tahoe for future sanctioned races. “We had a really competitive fleet,” he said. “Basically the cream of the crop showed up – about 10 of those boats in the race have raced in the (J24) Worlds.
“It was great having the race in a central location. It drew a lot of sailors,” Mullen said.
Atypical of Lake Tahoe sailing, the winds remained consistent for the duration of racing.
“Typically, the wind shifts around to the west about 2 o’clock,” Stevens said. “Local knowledge wasn’t worth anything in this regatta.” South Lake Tahoe-based Sno Job was chartered by Peter Whitney, and finished 11th overall. One boat did not start the race.
The tight course measured 8Ú10 of a mile from the windward to leeward marks. Racers ran four lengths, for a total course distance of 3.2 miles, Stevens said. He also noted that many of the crews were co-ed, another illustration of the changing face of sailing.
“Twenty or 30 years ago it was all guys,” he said. “I would say 80 percent of the boats had female sailors on board.”
Sailors new to Lake Tahoe also learned about the strict environmental regulations that prohibit the use of two-stroke motors on the lake, said Windjammers Rear Admiral Kurt Rasmussen, one of the race organizers. The fleet was towed out for the start of racing, and towed back in for the finish.
“We had to call friends and neighbors to give them a tow,” he said.
Currently totaling 73 members, the club is always interested in increasing its membership, Stevens said. For more information on the Windjammers, call Rob Anderson at (775) 783-9587, or visit them on the Web at http://www.tahoewindjammers.com.
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