Mastered It

Mastered It

The final Laser Master Worlds report from Columbia Gorge Racing Association Commodore Bill Symes.  Great job from a solid dude, and be sure to check out the fun, inexpensive, and Anarchist-friendly WIllamette Sailing Club that his lovely wife LauraLee runs in Portland, OR.

Sept. 5, 2009. Days 4 & 5:
OK, gotta make this real quick (turns out they can run races faster than I can write, and the final round is about to start). Wednesday was the lay day, which we used to catch our breath and take a closer look at some of those excruciatingly cute villages that dot Nova Scotia’s southeast coast. It was a beautiful day, and this place is one big sailing postcard.

The seabreeze returned on Thursday and we got off 2 races in classic Laser sailing conditions: fully hiked, spitting out salt water on every other wave, insane surfing rides down the short, steep waves to the leeward mark. I found my mojo in race 1, sailing way out in front of the fleet with big dogs Bethwaite and Schlacter. Alas, they both got me in the end. Race 2 started well, but I faded in the stretch and wound up 6th, with Bethwaite taking another gun. At the end of the day, Gerz is still leading but Bethwaite is closing. I’m now in a very tenuous 4th, beating Jack Schlacter on a tiebreaker.

The Standard Masters have now concluded their qualifying round and split into Gold and Silver fleets. Scott Ferguson is still on top of the leaderboard but the Dutchman Arnoud Hummel is coming on strong, with 2 bullets in today’s races. This fleet is incredibly deep (see Tracy Usher’s report for the up close view).

That night LauraLee teamed up with French chef extraordinaire Alain Vincey to prepare an epic meal of barbequed lobster, insalata caprese, and fresh berry pie at the gorgeous waterfront estate where we are slumming with 6 other sailors and wives. Mark and Carolyn Bethwaite brought a case of wine and we drank it all. No doubt we will all remember this evening long after the pain of endless windward legs has been forgotten.

The seabreeze came back on Friday, but my mojo pulled a no-show. In race 1, I went right and the wind went left. Rounded the weather mark deep in the pack and never could get back into the boat race. There goes throwout #1. In race two, I went left and didn’t fare much better. Going very slow. Spent half the race looking for weeds on my blades but I suspect the only overgrowth was in my head (or maybe it was the case of wine). Struggled to finish 11th as Jack Schlacter ran away with the race and possibly my last shot at 4th in the regatta.

Wolfgang Gerz finished the day with 1,2 and has now pretty much put away the Laser Grand Masters world championship. Well done, Wolfgang.

Sept. 6, 2009. Day 6:
It’s over. The 2009 Laser Master World Championships ended Saturday with no races completed, so the standings as of Friday night became final. Not that we didn’t try. Sailors were towed out to the race area across a perfectly glassy St. Margarets Bay in hopes of a 1 o’clock start. Around 2 the RC moved the course up about a mile, chasing an elusive breeze coming off the north shore. But after almost 2 hours of starts, recalls, postponements, and abandonments, they finally threw in the towel and started picking up boats for the hour-long tow back across the bay to St. Margaret Sailing Club.

So we ended on a somewhat disappointing note, but LauraLee met me at the beach with a rum and tonic (with lime!), and soon things were looking up. I ended up in 5th place, which is better than I had hoped for coming into the regatta. I had an outside chance to move up a notch but an even greater chance to move down a notch or two, so I can’t complain (see complete results here).

Now it’s off to the gala awards dinner at the Cunard Center in Halifax, a last chance to party with old and new friends from around the world. Tomorrow we’ll have to clean up the house, pack up the boats, and get ready for the long flight home to Oregon, where the Mother of All Visa Bills will be awaiting us. But long after that’s paid off and forgotten, we will treasure the memories of sailing in this beautiful place with this terrific bunch of sailors. And don’t be surprised if we show up next year to the 2010 Laser Master Worlds in Hayling Island, England, to do it all over again.

To see more of LauraLee’s ‘hot video interviews’ with the competitors (including new and old champions, wives and girlfriends, race officers and dogs) click here and here and here. And don’t miss Matias Capizzano’s totally awesome pics of the on-the-water action (these are the best photos of Laser sailing I’ve ever seen!).