District Laser Regatta Conroe Yacht Club 2016

District Laser Regatta Conroe Yacht Club 2016

Conroe Yacht Club hosted the Spring Fling Regatta on Lake Conroe April 9 and 10, 2016. Ron Liston and Mike Lindstrom were terrific hosts for this two day event. The lake is just 222 miles South of Dallas off of IH 45 in Montgomery, Texas. From the quiet residential road you take a narrow straight gravel road lined with tall pine trees and vacation homes to the low key Conroe Yacht Club. It is a perfect sailing venue. The generous dry sail area was buzzing with energy as boats rigged for the first of 8 medium to heavy wind races. After sailing we enjoyed rehashing the day’s events while sitting on the expansive deck surrounded by tall slender pine trees with a carpet of green grass leading to the water’s edge. The lake has a large basin to run Olympic courses including long windward legs.  There were three fleets; Sunfish, Laser (of course) and Centerboard Portsmouth Class.  The winds arrived early on Saturday morning and began to blow and increase from 12 to 18+ knots. The gusts were often 5 – 10 degree oscillations coupled with changes in velocity.  It put a premium on superb boat handling and skill at changing gears while full hiking.  The winds and motor boats created a washing machine effect on the water – Dubbed Lake Maytag (by Forest). The confused waves and chop made all directions of sail a bumpy ride! It also provided for some nice steep rolling waves to surf on and fly across on screaming reaches.

We had 8 talented Laser sailors at this regatta – 6 from the Dallas Laser Fleet, one from Arlington, and one from Houston.   The regatta was host to 23 boats in three classes.  Using a three minute sequence the race committee started Sunfish, Lasers and the Portsmouth in separate starts. They setup an Olympic course with a downwind finish totaling five legs and 3.25 miles.  The race committee skillfully got off 5 races on Saturday and 3 races on Sunday.

A funny thing happened on the way to Conroe for Griffin Orr aka the Wizard. He had to have his boat and trailer towed into Corsicana due a broken leaf spring.  But Cleansweep 11 could not be held back. Magically Forest appeared out of nowhere in the early morning mist to rescue Griffin and Cleansweep 11. They happily arrived at CYC early Saturday morning with time to spare.  Both Forest and Griffin arrived not much worse for the wear!

Once the boats were rigged they sailed about a mile to the start area. The mixed up chop and breeze provided a nice wakeup call for anyone that had not had their morning coffee. On this day almost everyone got a chance to swim – some more than others!!!  The sailors enjoyed high winds that allowed for very fast, fun and challenging off wind legs. On several reaches you could see 3 or 4 sleek one-design Lasers flying over the sun drenched waves in tight formation.  The bows of the Lasers completely out of the water with spray giving way to the high speed reach – like a section of fighter jets performing an impressive airshow.  The Laser skippers proved an indefatigable bunch of sailors. The Lasers maintained fleet integrity for 8 races.  Saturday the winds were 12-18+ knots with shifty gusts above 20.  Sunday the wind was easily blowing 18 – 24+ knots with gusts off the charts in all three races.  Despite the conditions the fleet was typically bunched close together.  The course called for downwind finishes which provided for some nice off wind demonstrations of dynamic rocking by the lee sailing and fast screaming reaches with boats flying side by side across the glistening water.  The sailing was strenuous and exhilarating.  For some the downwind legs were a rock n roll sensation culminating in a splashy death roll.

The committee boat was not part of the start finish line. This was explained to each of us on the water by Forest as he sailed by to make certain we knew how to start.  The Race Instruction may have mentioned this but since we never received a printed copy and so we just rolled with it and raced Lasers!

The regatta was won by Carson Shields. He impressively won five out of the eight races. He had challengers on the course and he proved he could win from the front and the back of the fleet. Once he was over early and still managed to work his way through the fleet and win the race. His skill at sailing is exceeded only by his exceptional manners and friendliness. Griffin was second. He won the first race and continued to put pressure on Carson. The heavy winds pushed him hard.  The off wind legs demonstrated his skill and boat handling.  He easily passed boats on each leg to get his well-deserved finish. John O’Riordan was third. He was ever present on the upwind legs and also demonstrated his off wind prowess.  Rich Laffey was fourth.  He impressively won the third race and capped the weekend with a second in the last race. Alexander J Goldberg was fifth.  He easily won the last race – punctuating his win by capsizing at the finish and celebrating!  He was leading an earlier race and he looked secure for the win until he performed an unexpected death roll.Jody Smith, Forest Atkins, and John Oliver rounded out the fleet standings.

The upwind legs were a physical battle for the sailors. The mixture of waves and steep chop presented a challenge to all.  Almost all the upwind legs were a full hike and a balance of powering up and depowering the rig as the gusts rolled down the long windward leg.  The reaches were a true blast!  Right after rounding the top mark they eased the vang and bore away and held on tight during the starboard reach. At the jibe mark a few went swimming.  But more often than not the quick jibe was followed by a crisp crack of the sail as the Laser took off on a screaming reach! Typically the Lasers were bunched together.  The nimble fast Lasers were seen planing with the surf or surging over the waves.  The next upwind leg would occasionally see the lead change as the boats took advantage of shifts. Everyone worked hard to stay flat and fast.

This second stop on the Texas District Laser Circuit was well worth the trip! Go find your Laser and get it ready for the next Circuit stop at Rush Creek Yacht Club at the end of this month – April 30 and May 1, 2016. Thanks again to Conroe Yacht Club for a very fun party!

Sail Flat! Sail Downwind! Sail Fast! Sail Lasers!





District Laser Regatta Conroe Yacht Club 2016
Place            Name                 Boat Sail No. Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Race 4 Race 5 Race 6 Race 7 Race 8 Total
1 Carson Shields Laser 212064 2 1 X 1 1 1 1 3 10
2 Griffin Orr Laser 190275 1 3 2 2 3 3 X 5 19
3 John O’Riordan Laser 185844 3 X 3 3 6 4 2 4 25
4 Rich Laffey Laser 171656 4 2 1 5 X 5 7 2 26
5 Alexander Goldberg Laser 187956 5 4 4 X 4 6 5 1 29
6 Jody Smith Laser 209728 X 5 6 6 5 2 3 7 34
7 Forest Atkins Laser 157833 6 7 5 4 2 X 4 6 34
8 John Oliver Laser 174300 8 8 8 8 8 X 8 8 56