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desert storm


desert storm

It was a great year for the Holy Gale at Smith Creek. The weather was very nice with little or no wind night and morning, and beautiful sailing conditions in the afternoon. The temperature was in the high 70’s to low 80’s in the day and the 50’s at night. The surface of the lake is probably the best in the world, with the south end being as smooth as smooth gets. For those of you that don’t know, Smith Creek is at an elevation of 6025′ probably one of the highest sailable dry lakes in the world.

There was a good turnout with 29 Manta Twins, 16 Manta Singles, 5 Upper Class and 5 Middle Class boats. In preparation for the World Championships in De Panne, Belgium, we used the European "Orange Zone" marks. I believe this might be the first time we have used the "Orange Zone" here in the USA and most everybody seemed to like it. Many said it made people more aware of what was going on at the mark. We had no accidents, protests or penalties at any mark rounding’s.

The first day of racing had shifty winds of 10 to 15 knots. This made it difficult to set the marks in a windward leeward orientation, so there were some reaching legs. All the classes except the Upper class got in three races. The racing was very tight in the Manta Twin Class but Carl Eberly showed he’s got what it takes with a 1,2,1 for the day. That night, the "Mayors Mixer" was put on by Beth Gripenstraw and her large band of helpers. The Mixer featured hand squeezed margaritas, home-made tamales, and lots of other things to eat. The featured entertainment was a playing of the Headless Clones CD and Mel was in attendance to provide insight to the music as well as give out autographs. It started to get dark around 8:30 and the full moon was up shortly after. Smith Creek has very few obstacles so some went out for a late night light air sail and said it was beautiful.

On the second day of racing the wind came up a little more and it was slightly steadier. We made the courses a little longer and in a better orientation to the wind. During the last Upper Class race the wind started to build quickly, With the wind at 25 knots and a thunder storm on the horizon. The Race Committee (Mary Bassano) cancelled the start for the Manta Twins that were due up next. Some were questioning the call but it proved to be necessary. Right after the Upper Class finished their race the wind really started to build.

Before we really knew what was happening it was blowing 40 Knots+, with rain and lightning. The whole thunder storm lasted about an hour and the top wind speed was 55 Knots!. The Gale director, Brett Gripenstraw had 2 tables broken, my awning was just a pile of twisted metal and cloth and Lance Hossack had his Class 3 boat flipped over, and it only had the mast up.
During all of this commotion most everybody stood in the lee of their camps just enjoying the spectacle of it all, As we say, "You can’t have a Holy Gale unless you have a Holy Gale". After the Gale everybody was standing around swapping stories about the happenings and getting ready for a windless dinner.

The wind on day three didn’t cooperate and it was never steady enough to hold races. The race committee had marks set up for the Enduro but it never happened. The 3 o’clock cut-off time passed and we handed out trophies at 4:00. By 4:30 the wind came up (that always happens to the race committee) and many got a really nice afternoon of sailing in.

In the end with 5 races per class it was, Carl Eberly with a 1,2,1,1,1 score that took the Manta Twin trophy, followed by Carsten Owens, Duncan Harrison and Rod Eicholz. In the Manta Singles it was Curtis Obi with a 1,2,1,2,5 win, followed by Sheila Eberly, Jack Robertson, Mary Robertson and Sam Robertson. Curtis was also able to best the Mini of Burton Grover by one point in the battle of the mini’s and singles. In the Middle Class it was Mary Robertson in her Standart with straight bullets for the win followed by Dave Gluek and a much improved Frank Marsh in their Fisly 5’s. Alan Wirtanen once again proved he is the fastest big boat guy winning all but one race (he didn’t get the memo on the course change). He was followed by Myself ( using my new 31" square top sail, 106 Sq. Ft.), and Lester Robertson
who has a new nice looking home-made sail that is showing some much improved speed. We all only used our big International Class two sails trying to get a grip on how to sail with too much sail area in big winds. International Class 2 is the only class that has a minimum sail area (86 Sq. Ft.)

Team USA was using the Holy Gale and the "SASSASS high altitude training camp" as a tune up for the World Championships in De Panne, Belgium. The roster for this year’s team, the largest ever, includes: Lester Robertson, Alan Wirtanen and Myself in Class 2; John Eisenlohr with a new wing boat in class 3; Mary Robertson and Carsten Owens (maybe) in Standart; Curtis Obi, Glenn Monanhan, Frank Marsh and Dave Gluek in Fisly 5; Jack Robertson, Sam Robertson and Jim Goss in Promo; and Nord Embroden. Only Jim, Nord and John (still working on his boat) were not at the Gale. We all got lots of sailing in, practiced mark rounding’s and starts, tuned up our sails, tried out new axles and tires and made plans on what to bring with us to De Panne. Last time in Europe the only trophy the team won was for the best party by a club. We hope to do that again as well as get on the final podium in a couple of classes.

All in all, it was a great regatta. I have to thank; (Gale Director) Brett and Beth and their crew for the Mayor’s Mixer and Porta-Potties. Kent Hatch for the Permit. Mary Bassano, John Bogard and Dave Moeller for the shirts and posters. Mary Bassano, Jan Oliveri and all the helpers and scorers in the committee trailer. Everybody that helped me set the course and marks. Everybody for their help packing the trailer and to Glenn Barclay for hauling it back to Carson City and to Lester Robertson for storing the trailer and making the really cool trophies. Walter Oliveri for providing the World Cup Cafe so we could all watch the games while we were waiting for the wind- goooooooalllllllll. The M.O.O.S.E. and the Wind Wizards. One last thanks to SASSASS for having the kind of people who can bring this all together, because this is the kind of help it takes to put on a great event and we are all really lucky to have it.

We are planning to be back at Smith Creek next year, June 22nd to 26th. Hope you will be there. Here’ s a video from the event.

See you in the dirt or on the beach,

Dennis Bassano US 8