The 2012 Laser North Americans got underway on July 19th and the Columbia Gorge Racing Association race committee had their work cut out for them getting away starts for 173 registered boats, the largest fleet of boats ever hosted by the CGRA. The 104 competitors in the Laser Radial were split into two start groups. Sixteen boats started in the 4.7 and 53 in the Standard Rig. Under partly sunny skies, a warm but unstable breeze built over the course of the afternoon to 15 knots. Three races were sailed on Thursday.
Laser North Americans 2012
For those sailors who hadn’t previously raced on the Columbia River, it was a day of getting used to the current and fluky breeze. Even Chris Barnard, College Sailor of the Year, who sits in first place after day one, tried to take things easy.
'I wanted to have a conservative day and avoid any big mistakes,' Barnard said, 'I knew with the upwind current a lot of the gains would be made on the downwind legs so I made sure I was in the race in the downwind leg at the first weather mark and made my gains from there. I was conservative on the beats and pretty aggressive on the downwinds. That’s what worked well for me.'
With racing at the top of the fleet extremely close, Derick Vranigan was happy with his second place result.
'It was a tricky day so I’m fine with it - second is not a bad place to be after one day. I definitely put premium on getting a good start and then just really being heads out of the boat, it was less of a speed day and more of an awareness thing making sure you were on the right spot at the right time. The first race was definitely our windiest race and from there it kind of died off - it was almost hard to go downwind at the end of the last race.'
Sitting right up there at the top of the pack in fifth overall after day one is Scott Ferguson, who has just a few years on Barnard and Vranigan, admits that the Laser is a very physical boat to race.
'I'm moving a bit slowly this morning!' Ferguson said. 'It's been a while (last August for the Master Worlds) since I have raced these boats. I had two good starts and first beats which got me into the top five. The last race of the day I started near the pin, tacked and crossed the fleet. I rounded in first, but was eventually passed by the young fast guys. Not too much wind, a bit shifty and puffy helps me I think. It will be hard for me to maintain this level of physical intensity for the next three days, but I will give it a whirl!'
Competition resumed on Friday after a night of intense thunderstorms in the Gorge and rain early morning. Racing got underway at 11:15am, with cloudy skies and 10-12 knots. Racing continues through Sunday.
Top five in the Laser Standard after day one:
1. Chris Barnard (sail #194180), Newport Harbor YC, 10 pts
2. Derick Vranizan (sail #196842), Seattle YC, 11 pts
3. Robert Davis, (sail #200610), Kingston YC/RCYC, 12 pts
4. Eric Bowers (sail #199761), Minnetonka YC, 16 pts
5. Scott Ferguson (sail #180509), Sail Newport, 22 pts
Top five in the Laser 4.7 after day one:
1. Ford McCann (sail #199339), TCYC, 4 pts
2. Patrick Shanahan (sail #199169), St Petersburg YC, 7 pts
3. Jake Cullen (sail #199716), R Van YC, 10 pts
4. Parker Hughes (sail #182342), TCYC, 18 T
5. Lenox Butcher (sail #187697), TCYC, 18 T
* TCYC - Texas Corinthian YC
Top five in the Laser Radial after day one:
1. Isabella Bertold (sail #198385), R Van YC, 4 pts
2. Malcom Lamphere (sail # 199796), Lake Geneva YC, 7 pts
3. Al Clark, (sail # 197053), R Van YC, 8 pts
4. Mateo Vargas (sail # 194551), St Petersburg YC/Stanford, 10 pts
5. Drake Jensen (sail # 182870), Richmond YC), 14 pts
Full results here