Lauderdale Olympic Classes Regatta

Published on January 19th, 2015

The Lauderdale Olympic Classes Regatta was held January 17-19 in the Atlantic Ocean off of Dania Beach in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Open to Finns (it’s their Midwinter Championship), Lasers and Laser Radials, competitors came from twenty countries and Puerto Rico. They range in age from 14 to 79.

This regatta, which traditionally followed the ISAF Miami World Cup, was moved to precede it so as to serve not only as a tune up but as a qualifier. USA berths for the Laser and Laser Radial in the World Cup are limited this year, so after the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider members, the next highest seven (Laser Radial) or eight (Laser) USA finishers get an entry.

Saturday’s races started off with a nice north-northeast breeze of around eight knots. The ocean waves were 2-3 feet under beautiful sunny skies. By the third race of the day, the breeze was up around twelve knots with some puffs into the low teens.

In the 23-boat Finn class, Ivan Gaspic of Croatia, ranked No.1 by ISAF, was the first day leader. He was followed by Giorgio Poggi of Italy and Ioannis Mitakis of Greece, in second and third, respectively. Top North Americans were Caleb Paine of US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider (5th) and Kyle Martin of Canada (10th).

The 53-boat Laser class was led by 2013 Intercollegiate Sailing Association Sailor of the Year, Juan Maegli of Guatemala. Following him were Youssef Akrout of Turkey and Tobias Schadewaldt of Germany. The top North American was Erik Bowers of USA in 5th.

In the Laser Radial Class, Paige Railey of US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider easily led the 44 boat fleet with a score line of 1-2-1. She was followed by Nic Baird of St. Petersburg, FL and Nazli Donertas of Turkey. Paige’s US Sailing teammate, Erika Reineke of Fort Lauderdale, FL was fourth.

Sunday brought another beautiful day with the breeze a bit lower and from the Northwest. The first race saw six to eight knots and by the third start the breeze had filled in as forecast to around twelve to fourteen. With the wind coming off the land, and the weather marks close to the beach, the conditions were very shifty and patchy.

In the Finns, Ivan Gaspic scored three bullets to solidify his lead. Caleb Paine wrapped a three and a two around a nine to climb into a tie for second, and Piotr Kula of Poland also finished tied for second but dropped to third on the countback.

This time of year, off Dania Beach, there is often very strong current. That current caught many of the sailors off guard and led to several OCS’s in their score lines. One of those was Italy’s Michele Paoleti who but for an OCS had an otherwise stellar day with a second and a third.

Over in the Lasers it was a big day for the Norwegians. Hermann Tomasgaard rolled a 6-3-1 to solidify his lead over his countryman, Kristian Ruth who finished the day in second. Erik Bowers had a bit of trouble with some of the shifts, but managed to hold onto third. First day leader Juan Maegli suffered an OCS in the second race of the day and fell back to 11th.

In the Laser Radials Nic Baird, son of America’s Cup winning skipper Ed Baird, edged ahead of Paige Railey, and now led her by two points going into Monday’s final two races. Brothers Henry and William Marshall of Newton, MA moved into third and fourth, respectively. Nazli Donertas, who had been in third missed the first start and settled into sixth. Erika Reineke came down with a bug on Saturday night, and missed all three races.

Monday’s first race, the seventh for the regatta, would allow for a drop. With many top skippers holding an OCS in one of the first six races, that drop led to some movement on the leader boards.

The day started with a very unsteady breeze centering around 330 degrees. PRO Clyde Wright III decided to wait it out to see if it steadied, which it did just in time for the first warning. The race went off at the 330 bearing in six to eight knots. The second race saw a bit more pressure, with puffs above ten knots, but it wasn’t steady enough to fly the Oscar flag for the Finns which allows for more kinetics.

World number one ranked Ivan Gaspic continued his torrid performance in the Finn going 3-1 to win the class. Caleb Paine solidified his position in second on the strength of 1-3, and Piotr Kula edged Giorgio Poggi by one point for third.

The Lasers saw Juan Maegli move back to the podium after dropping his OCS in race 5 and rolling snake eyes on the final day. He finished second to break the Norwegian strangle hold on the top of the class. Hermann Tomasgaard finished first and Kristian Ruth finished third. The top North Americans were Juan Perdomo of Puerto Rico and Erik Bowers, who finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

Juan Maegli endorsed the early scheduling of the event. “This is a great event to have at the beginning of the season. It’s a fun event with really good conditions.”

In the Laser Radial class Erika Reineke returned from food poisoning to roll a perfect daily score of 1-1. Not enough to overcome Sunday’s three DNC’s she was still encouraged by the day’s results.

Handily winning the Laser Radial class was Paige Railey. She was followed by Nic Baird and William Marshall in second and third, respectively.

Paige continues to recover from a training accident, and wore a helmet for the regatta. “This was my first regatta since by bike crash, so I was working my way back. We had some nice success, and I enjoyed being back racing in the boat.”

A big shout out to the Lauderdale Yacht Club race committee and regatta committee. They put on a great event with plenty of awesome racing in wonderful conditions, with lots of good food and cold beverages. Next year we hope to see upwards of 150 entries.

Oh, and the 79-year-old mentioned in the first paragraph? That would be venerable Finn sailor Gus Miller. If there is a status higher than Exulted Great Grand Master, then he is it. The Finn portion of this regatta started in 1982, and Gus has been here for over 20 iterations. “I ask my body to please let me sail one more Finn regatta, and it lets me. Then when I sail the next one it screams at me, ‘You Lied!’ I’ll definitely feel it tomorrow, but today, I’m happy.”

Report and photos by John Payne.

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