With barely six knots of breeze on San Francisco Bay the 2011 Laser Masters Worlds seemed to start with a whisper, rather than the anticipated bang of 15-25 knots. Seemed to, but by the end of the day, the wind and waves had kicked up to the norm of 17-23 knots from just shy of due west, under the Golden Gate Bridge.
With such a large size fleet and many divisions, the Race Chairman and his committee set up two launching stations, the Standard boats will launch from the beach at Crissy field just West of the Club, and the Radials, from the St. Francis Yacht Club’s docks. Several Staff Commodores of the Club are staffing the beach and call themselves the Beach Boys. Among them, current Commodore Patrick Nolan said this morning,
“It’s going really smoothly. It’s way better than I anticipated. There are 240 competitors with their friends and family in town. The club will be jam-packed. Hopefully the breeze will keep building. The volunteers have put in extraordinary time. They have dedicated a lot of effort to make it all happen. Because of them we were able to have two launch and retrieve areas and two race courses.”
In order to manage the racing, the Standard Apprentice, Grand and Great Grand Masters race in the morning, and all of the Masters and Radial Grand Masters Race in the afternoon. On the beach after the morning’s racing in 6-14 knot winds, Nick Page (NZL) in 8th after his first day said, “The tides are very challenging, but overall, day one was good.” Wolfgang Gerz (GER) former Finn World Champion took first in first Grand Masters Race, and Colin Dibb (AUS) won the second race and is currently at the top of the leader board, with Peter Vessella (StFYC) just two points behind in second.
Mark Phillips (AUS) who’s been racing Lasers since 1977 said of launching from the beach, “It was fabulous. I was launching my boat, and there was a puppy swimming right there next to me. I love being in San Francisco, I like the seals and I like the chowder. Everything’s just great.”
The afternoon racing for the Masters (Standard and Radial) and Radial Apprentice Laser sailors, brought wind, waves and in the last race, gorgeous clear skies. The Standard Masters class, has such a depth of talent that “even breaking into the top 10 is going to be difficult,” said former America’s Cup sailor Andy Roy (CAN), who finished eighth in his first race of the day. Arnoud Hummel (NOR), one of the race favorites has finished just behind Worlds champion Scott Ferguson for the past two Worlds, won the first race, well ahead of Ferguson who finished 10th. Hummel also won race two and said he’s done that - won the first day - for the fourth time in a row. Just behind him was another local favorite, Russ Silvestri, followed by Scott Ferguson. “It was pretty easy,” said Hummel of the second race. “In the first race we found less current going right, but in the second, the left really paid, so much so that people who went right were still heading to windward as we - me, Russ and Scott - rounded the leeward gate.” The runs, according to Race Manager, Robbie Dean, took about 8 minutes. “It’s a different game every year.” Hummel said.
The racing will continue through Saturday, August 13.
Photos: Paige Brooks
Updated on May 17, 2013, 5:51pm