Lasers go stadium sailing
The St Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco over 3-4 August are to host the Laser Heavy Weather Slalom.
This involves a course being set of two short parallel rows of four buoys each, starting in front of the race office and heading west for only about 200 yards, to enable good viewing from the yacht club. Competitors start two at a time, each luffing nose-to a left side or right side bottom-most inflatable mark. It is the sailors' job to hold position as best they can until the race committee sees that both are nosed-up evenly (enough). Then a start is signaled. The challenge is to tack up through your row of buoys, cross sides at the top (no hunting allowed), gybe down through the buoys, beat back to weather, cross again, and hurry-up gybe to a finish at the bottom. It's an eliminations ladder, so winner advances.
Competing will be 32 of the World’s best Laser sailors who will sail a double elimination series for the honour of joining the small pantheon of luminaries who can say they have won this event.
A talent-stacked fleet includes LaserPerformance Ambassador and Team Maclaren skipper Anna Tunnicliffe, Olympic Gold Medalist and US Sailing’s 2010 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. Also competing is America’s Cup defender Oracle Racing’s Scott Ferguson,‘09 and ’10 Laser Masters World Champion and they are being joined by top racers from Australia, Italy, Germany, Canada, Dominican Republic and the US.
WHAT they’re saying about the Laser Slalom…
Anna Tunnicliffe, 28, from Plantation, FL: I think its great that this event has being going on for so long. It is a side of the sport we don't often see, but a side that it is just as physical and tactical, but also fun!
Scott Ferguson, 50, Jamestown, RI: I’ll just take what I’m given, try not to capsize, and make the maneuvers as smooth as possible. You have a fairly small window within which to jibe and if you hit the waves not quite right you could get into trouble!
Ari Barshi, 49, owner Laser Performance Centre, Cabarete, Domincan Republic: All Lasers are made to be fast, it’s the sailor that makes it slower. In the slalom event we will see very clearly which sailor is most in sync with his boat!
Laura Carter, 16, Alameda, California: The Laser is the first boat that I sailed that I really enjoyed and I’ve been racing it since I was 12. It’s the best boat for the slalom because it’s so physical boat and allows the racers to showcase their boat handling abilities.
Peter Seidenberg, 70-something, Portsmouth, RI, sailing his 28th Laser Master Worlds (he’s won 8 events) and now doing his first Laser Slalom: This couldn't be done in any other boat and be as exciting to do and to watch. It is a truly one-design boat in which racing comes down to "man against man", not boat against boat. This could be my last chance!
Stephen Orosz: 45, El Cerrito, California: It’s a great boat for the slalom because it is so maneuverable and makes for some exciting wipeouts. I have been trying to practice gybing in strong wind and waves, with a lot of wishful that I’ll be able to pull off eight gybes in short order in breeze and waves. . .
Andrea Cosentino, 51, Venice, Italy: All my family is here with me to attend the Slalom and Master Worlds. My daughter Laura , the 2010 Italian Female Laser Champion, is my coach here. I hope to limit my capsizing during the slalom, otherwise she will laugh too much !
Christina Neville, 31, Oakland, California: The laser is affordable, tons of people sail it, easy to travel with, you can race anywhere, good competition, wide age range, high performance, athletic to sail, the best of everything. Of course you can spend tons of time upside down - which is why it is good for the slalom!
Drake Jensen, 18, El Sobrante, California, in 2010, was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, and acquired a blood clot complication which took him off the water: The Laser is perfect for the slalom because of it's highly challenging characteristics, making for exciting action and close call manoeuvres.
Luke Parker, 45, Sydney, Australia, is in it for the thrills and spills: Simple one design. Huge numbers of boats. Close, competive sailing. Money can't buy speed.
Peter Vessella, 56, Burlingame, California, even after two knee operations, one neck fusion, and several back injuries concurs: The Laser’s a physical boat that rewards fitness and purity of competition in strict one-design. For the Slalom I’ve been practicing tacks and gybes in quick succession in big breeze!
Martin White, 53, Sydney, Australia: A Laser is so damn honest! Where else do you find so much competition in so many parts of the world?
Colin Dibb, 55, Fremantle, Australia, just scored a 1970's Laser 42000ish, yellow and called Pumpkin that he plans to rig “exactly how we used to do it back then” to show the young bucks how hard it was in the old days, 3:1 vang, etc: It’s the purest form of sailing - just me and a boat.
Peter Shope: 51, Portsmouth, RI, sailing Lasers again after a 26 year hiatus (!):This is an event that I used to dream about participating in when I was a kid. Now I can cross it off my bucket list!
Rob Muru, 53, Toronto, Canada, 2011 Great Lakes Masters Laser Champion, former Canadian National Team (Star and Soling crew) and America’s Cup sailor (Canada 1, 1983): It’ll be crazy breeze and waves, good crowd at the yacht club, racing in the Pacific by the Golden Gate Bridge, the odd seal swimming by. Everything about it is cool.
Nick Burke, 49, globalized - no fixed abode: I like the athleticism required to compete. It’s a great boat for the slalom because it is tricky to gybe.