Leaving no doubt as to their intentions at this early stage of campaigning for gold in the 2008 Olympics, Canadian Laser sailor Dave Wright and Mexican Laser Radial sailor Tania Calles each dominated their respective 60-plus boat fleets at the 2005 Laser Midwinters West Regatta held at California Yacht Club Friday through Sunday, March 11th to 13th.
Dave Wright — with two firsts, two seconds and two thirds — prevailed over his fellow countryman and training partner Bernard Luttmer in moderate six-to-ten-knot breezes and choppy water on Santa Monica Bay.
Sailing on an Olympic trapezoid course, the Canadians reaped the rewards of their excellent downwind technique as they distanced themselves from the rest of the fleet.
Taking eight of the top 20 places in the Laser, Canadian Olympic sailors — who have historically used Southern California as their winter training base — are already making a strong showing as we commence the new Olympic quadrennium.
In winning their respective Master’s Divisions, Ned Jones held off a late surge by Chris Raab to retain third place overall by the slightest of margins.
Top junior and seventh overall was 16-year-old Royce Weber from New Jersey, whose result qualified him as the U.S. representative in the Laser Class for this year’s Youth Worlds, scheduled to be in Korea in July.
In the Radial Class, two-time Olympian in the Europe Class Tania Elias Calles turned on the jets and won the event handily, winning seven of the nine races.
Although the Radial has a narrower weight range than the Europe, Tania, who is on the lighter side, excelled in the moderate conditions and credited her consistent upwind speed in the steep chop as the key to her success.
Canadian Jennifer Spaulding out-dueled up-and-coming Texan Leah Hoepfner for second place.
Local Radial sailor Kathy Luciano had an unexpected guest on her boat on Sunday.
As Kathy was waiting for the start of her race, a seal pup jumped onto her boat. The seal seemed to enjoy racing, as it stayed on board for all three races.
Kathy noted that the seal was great at tacking and gybing but needed some work on hiking technique.
Full results, photos of the event and video interviews of the top competitors are available at www.calyachtclub.com