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Laser Master North Americans

by Kurt Hoehne

The renown winds of the Columbia River came through for the Laser Masters, sort of. Master sailors (over 35 years old) came from around North America to enjoy the epic conditions for which the Gorge is famous. But on Thursday night, there were fears that with Portland’s expected heat wave, the gradient difference wouldn’t be enough to provide the usual 20-30 knots or anything close to that.

True, there has been only one race with “nuking” winds of 20+, but all races have had winds in the teens. And after seven races, the top spots are still up for grabs. Even the relatively moderate conditions made for two long days on the water.

Click on any of these Jan Anderson images to enlarge. A gallery will soon be posted on her smugmug site where photos will be available for viewing and purchase.

The standard rig fleet approaching a mark.
Radials powering away from the windard mark.
Shortly after a start, Radials working their way to the Oregon side of the Columbia River.
A very tight Radial Start.

In the standard rig fleet, Charlie Buckingham was leading pending a protest by the Race Committee. In second was Dan Falk of Seattle, who sailed an amazingly consistent 1,2,3,1 on Saturday. In third is Tracy Usher of San Francisco with Bob Britten the first Canadian in fourth place, despite an OCS in the first race on Saturday.

In the Radial fleet, Michael O’Brien is sailing an extremely consistent series and is leading by two points of Keith Davids of California. O’Brien’s lead hasn’t come easy. In the last race on Saturday, “The hardest race I’ve sailed in my life,” O’Brien had to work his way from the bottom half the fleet for the win. In third is great grandmaster Peter Seidenberg (who is in his 70s) followed by Bill Symes of Oregon, also a great grandmaster.

Laser Masters is divided up into four divisions: apprentice master (35-44); master (45-54); grand master (55-64) and great grandmaster (65 and up). In an event like this they all sail and are scored together, but for the scoring points are added for younger age groups, in effect handicapping the younger sailors.

In the end, Laser Masters sailing isn’t so much about the points, it’s about the camaraderie of sailors who manage to wrestle the difficult little boat around the Gorge at, apparently, any age.

Winds for tomorrow are predicted to be light. A few sore older bodies will be OK with that.

Results are posted here.


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