Laser District 7

Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachussetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine

2014 Maine Championship #3 – Camden

9 sailors gathered in scenic Camden, Maine to race the 3rd event of the 2014 Maine Championship Series. The event was part of the Penobscot Bay Rendezvous and was sponsored by Annapolis Performance Sailing who provided some generous prizes and support.


1:00 pm start was scheduled to kick off the day with the hope that a strong sea breeze would fulfill the dreams (and nightmares) of nine sailors from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Some tough decisions were made on shore and all sailors hoisted full rigs.  7 races were sailed with the initial race being a steady 16-18 knots. Phil King showed dominance early in the breezy conditions and looked well honed while Hank Thorburn and Colin Gowland, of Harpswell and Belfast respectively, pursued him without relent down the early run as if trying to apprehend a runaway thief. George Hazelton of Rockport, Maine showed strong form in the breeze and Parker Chamberlain also came out of the gates with a fire in his eyes not seen yet this year.


The second and subsequent 6 races showed the wind ranging from 11-17 knots with some great wave action building on the bay. There were plenty of exciting passes and lead changes through each race and some wipeouts taboot. After 7 hard hiking races, competitors called “uncle” and the final Route de Rhum race was on. Phil King of Massachusetts won with great speed and “mass-netics” on the long reaching leg back to the dock – and held up the bottle of Goslings at the Penobscot Bay Rendezvous awards party to prove it. Phil also edged out Hank Thorburn to take second place while Colin Gowland won the event. Sailors enjoyed a spirited post race party among other sailors. The Antiguan reggae band, wine, beer and appetizers were welcome after the long, windy day on the water. See you at stop #4 – the 40th Annual Loon Cup in Manchester, Maine.


We’re more than halfway through the Maine Championship Series with two great events left this year. The first is in Manchester, ME at Lake Cobbosee on Sunday September 14th. It’s also the 40th Annual Loon Cup so expect a great vibe, feast and prizes for the top 5 lasers.



Buzzards Bay Regatta 2014

Thanks to Joe Berkeley for his account of BBR 2014 which was first posted on the D7 Facebook page.

The rain that fell first in showers, then bursts, and finally in great sheets upon Buzzards Bay must have made Alan Ruigrok of Dublin, Ireland feel right at home. He sailed his Laser to victory over a field of 30 full rig boats. His sail was always perfectly trimmed, the only flaw and it was a significant one considering the pride of his ancestors, being the lack of an “IRL” beneath his number.

One point behind Alan in second overall was Steve Kirkpatrick who sailed fast and consistently. His one mistake was an OCS, which became his throwout. Mark Bear finished third overall, and on the first day, he rounded the weather mark in first or second every time. Mark Bear is the only competitor who can say, “I’m not sailing well downwind,” and still finish on the podium.

Peter Shope finished fourth overall. One of more than a few Born Again Laser Sailors, Peter took a break from sailing for 21 years. Then he returned with a vengeance. At the Sunday party after racing, he ran into Chip Johns. They reflected upon the Finn campaigns of yesteryear. One such event, the Gold Cup in Brazil, found 20 Finn sailors on a small island with no ability to sail as their boats had not yet arrived. What to do?

Shope was minding his own busienss, peacefully watching TV when he was dragged from his room by his competitors. A rental-car Olympic sport was invented and his participation was mandatory. The rules were simple: each driver reaches a speed of 100 miles per hour then pulls the hand brake as hard as possible. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

One of the competitors rolled the car, Shope put his arm through the glass window and later received twenty-something stitches. He had warm memories of what he thought was someone in the front seat crying. Turns out it was Jumbo Peter Truslow laughing his ass off in the upside down car while gas dripped from the tank upon his head. And that was the least of the injuries.

There is nothing better than a Born Again Laser Sailor for the Masters fleet, and we are hoping to have talents like Peter Truslow, Sam Kerner, Scott Kyle, and Charlie Ulmer, Jr. return to the fold. Mark Jacobi grew up in Hawaii with Sam Kerner and coached Scott Kyle, so he is the go-to guy for their return. Steve Kirkpatrick is in charge of getting Charlie Ulmer back, who was a sight to behold in the big breeze.

Everyone in the fleet expected sunny skies, big breeze, and aching abdominal muscles as a result of three days of flat out hiking. The fleet was surprised to have good breeze on day one, then less on day two, and even less on day three. The weather wasn’t the only surprise.

Scott Pakenham, a former bicycle and motorcycle racer, who takes great pride in keeping his equipment in top shape, was thinking about bringing his center board to Andy Pimental’s boat shop, Jibetech to have two hairline cracks repaired.

That trip will not be necessary, as Scott ran aground on the way in on day one and hit a rock so hard his board shattered into numerous pieces. Not to worry. His hull was not damaged and a friend lent him a board and he was able to complete his regatta.

While Alan Ruigrok had the luck of the Irish, the same could not be said for poor Jonathan Beery. He stayed in a house with 15 of Alan’s countrymen and he said, “15 Irish guys in the same house, you know how that goes.”

As if a hangover wasn’t enough of a challenge, his borrowed boat had a test plug in the transom which had a small hole in it for pressure testing. Jonathan was unaware of the test plug so he finished his first day with a significant amount of water in the boat. The next day, he got a non-test plug and faired much better in a dry boat.

Tuckerman Jones prepared for the event by doing some practice and wrapping many different colors of duct tape around his dolly so it could be easy to find once he returned to shore. The BBR may be the only regatta on earth where your dolly is valet parked by kind volunteers who will actually jump into the ocean to help you launch and land your Laser. Pretty impressive.

Peter Hopple has been practicing in heavy air at his home club of Stone Horse and has also been trimming down to Laser weight. He had a consistent regatta and is looking forward to hosting the regatta at Stone Horse Yacht Club in Harwich Port, MA this coming weekend. He is hoping to get a good turnout and encourages you to attend, and while you’re at it, bring a friend.

This year, the Lasers had their own special launching area away from the main clubhouse so parking was a bit more relaxed than in year’s past, according to veterans of the regatta. The Race Committee did a great job conducting 11 races in finicky conditions over three days for the full rigs. Next year, Buzzards Bay will be one of the premiere regattas to attend. Let’s just hope that if Alan Ruigrok comes back to defend his title, he won’t bring the weather of Dublin with him.

I did have a chat with Alan, and informed him that I have acquired my Irish citizenship and have an Irish passport as well. If times get tough, Alan assured me I’m welcome over in Ireland where he can get me on the dole. 300 pounds a week. Tempting, isn’t it?

Joe Berkeley

2014 Marblehead NOOD

Thanks to Joe Berkeley for this report on the Marblehead NOOD regatta which was first posted by Joe on the District 7 Facebook page.


The Marblehead NOOD was the 125th anniversary of Marblehead Race Week and Lasers represented the second-largest fleet. Tom Dailey was the spark plug that ignited the 27-boat field and he put many competitors up at his gracious home. He posted consistent finishes on day one, then went on to win the race on day two. Tom said he built up the regatta turnout by emailing people. He believes there is a lot of demand out there for Laser sailing and this regatta got a lot of people to come out sailing.

JB Braun put on a clinic Saturday with three bullets in shifty conditions that were difficult for even the locals to decipher. On Sunday, he had a third. He attributes his fitness and boat speed to that fraternal twin of the Laser, the road bicycle. While living in Spain for work, JB discovered a local cycling group, joined it and got hooked. He started out with a Trek 1000 aluminum frame, and recently moved up to a Trek Madone.

But as any cyclist or any Laser sailor will tell you, it’s not about the equipment, it’s about the athlete. The road bike and the Laser both reward high power to weight ratios, and JB displayed both on a day where the punishment for errors was corporal: not only were you sent back a few spots in the Laser fleet, you were also tortured by being covered by the entire Rhodes 19 fleet.

As one competitor remarked at the three-boat-length zone at the leeward mark, “I have room on the red Laser, but I owe room to the blue Rhodes 19, the yellow Rhodes 19 and that interesting Towne & Country Canoe.” Ah, the pinwheel effect.

Phil King enjoyed the conditions and the camaraderie. He was getting the better of JB in race two on day one, until JB caught a sneaky lefty and went by. After sailing, Phil reflected on moving up to the next Masters group as he is turning 55. But like all masters, he is inspired by the stellar performance of fleet 413’s ironman, nine-time World Champion Peter Seidenburg who does not get older, just faster. Phil had a solid Sunday and finished third overall at the regatta.

Chris Palmieri broke his tiller extension on the final race of day one. He sailed upwind by placing his big toe on the tiller and laying supine on the deck with the rest of his person facing forward. If there were a bit more breeze, he could’ve hung one leg over the weather rail to hike old-school style in celebration of the 125th anniversary of race week.

He only dropped three places in the race, but the worst was yet to come. On shore, his girlfriend, who told him that very day he should not store his tiller attached to his extension as it could break, was proven right and administered a flogging. Chris vows to listen to his girlfriend all the time now and conduct preventative maintenance according to her instructions.

One Master’s Competitor, who shall not be named, has petitioned his competitors for the Laser Masters Senility Award for ignoring the large, red off-set mark not once, but twice in the same race. According to the petition, the Laser Master’s Senility Cup shall be a 64 ounce vessel which shall be filled with Mount Gay Rum and Coke and consumed by the recipient until the good sense he was born with returns to him.” The petition, the award, the deed of gift, and one slightly used 7-Eleven Big Gulp 64 ounce cup are under consideration by the Race Committee and the leadership of the class.

Phil Kersten of the Nahant fleet believes this has been one of the better Marblehead summers in recent memory. He thought the caliber of sailors who showed up for the NOOD was great, with a broad range of abilities.

Ledyard McFadden enjoyed the sailing as well as the sights of Marblehead. He was impressed with the boats going out to the three different courses, the beauty of the different clubs, all of the sights that make Marblehead unique.

As always, this great fleet didn’t just happen. Wayne Colahan started the Marblehead fleet after sailing in Sam Altrueter’s regatta. His strategy? Wayne just kept sailing his Laser in Marblehead harbor and people came out of the woodwork. People like Ben Richardson. That’s some good workwork.

For the next couple of years Wayne, Patrick Anderson and Tom Dailey grew the fleet by any means necessary. For instance, after Marblehead hosted a Woman’s event with charter Lasers, Wayne made an investment in the future by purchasing a boat from the event. Then he called JB Braun and said, “congratulations, you just bought a Laser. Pay me back when you have the money.”

The investments didn’t stop there. The Marblehead Laser fleet just bought a custom five-boat Dynamic Dolly trailer custom designed by the Dolly Meister Peter Seidenberg that will be making its first road trip to Eric Robbins’ Nantucket regatta. And the fleet is saving up to buy a set of foils as well as upgraded controls for the three fleet loaner boats.

Inspired by the strength and numbers of the Marblehead fleet, a proposal was made to get Mark Bear and his friends to a Marblehead regatta in exchange for Marblehead attendance at next year’s John Bentley. And while we’re at it, let’s get Dan Neri to go to both of those events, too. The response was favorable, and Tom Dailey had warm memories of when he hosted a Laser regatta in Marblehead in 1995 when John Bentley dislocated his shoulder, popped it back in on his own, and did not miss a race.

At the award ceremony at Corinthian Yacht Club, Dave Curtis and Norm Cressy inducted the following into the Marblehead Sailing Hall of Fame: Nocholas A. Barton, Robert E. Doyle, Bruce E. Dyson, Francis P. Scully, David J. Smith, Judson A.F. Smith, Joanne Thayer, Richard B. Wilson.

-Joe Berkeley

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