Eleven Lasers and eight Vanguard 15s showed up at Lake Tahoe this weekend for Ski/Sail the one-of-a-kind triathlon regatta you won’t find anywhere else. The sailors got conditions they’ve never found before — the 60-degree air temps arrived when the racers showed up, and all the snow fell on the mountains well before.
“In the 165 . . . okay, 17 years of hosting this event, we have never had such great sailing or skiing conditions," said Ski/Sail founder and ‘King’ Ralf Silverman. "We had 5- to 15-knots of breeze and over 10 feet of snow. What could be better?”
The first day’s buoy racing was ideal for dinghy sailing on Lake Tahoe in late April — that water is cold, and it’s better not to end up in it! Typically at Ski/Sail, everyone’s fingers start to go numb well before completing the six races Silverman was able to run in the balmy conditions. First-time Ski/Sailors, the Bay Area’s Alex Symes and Brian Kerr, led the Vanguard 15 fleet after the sailing, and no one was surprised to see Tahoe’s Nick Pullen leading the Laser fleet.
The second portion of the event, Saturday night’s party, was held at Squaw Valley’s Cornice Cantina. San Francisco’s Matt Gregory was this year’s winner of "The Suit," a bright yellow, skintight, ski-racing suit that must be worn by its recipient for at least two laps of the party. Most of The Suit’s winners wear it only for the required amount of time, but Gregory apparently liked the fit and the way it made him feel; he took it to the next level — wearing it for the rest of the night, including into the hot tub! This type of behavior is not necessarily encouraged, but no one’s decision-making skills are expected to be at their best on Saturday night of Ski/Sail.
Regatta sponsor Squaw Valley ran the ski-racing event on Sunday in T-shirt-conditions. As always, the Laser sailors, mostly Tahoe locals, had ski-race times that were twice as fast as the Vanguardians — primarily weekend warriors from San Francisco. Each racer made four runs, and the one throw-out per person absolved a few Olympic-quality crashes. Local Justin Roach had the fastest ski times of the Laser fleet despite carrying a goose egg on his forehead from the day before. The Bay’s Chad Gray and Adam Eichorn once again edged out the rest of the Vanguard fleet in the skiing. Sponsor Helly Hansen provided some fancy skiing and sailing gear for the top three in each fleet. When the final scores were tallied, Tahoe local Stan Eriksson took the Laser title and three-time Ski/Sail champions Gray and Eichorn were the top Vanguard 15 team.
Looks like the highly controversial sail training operation aboard the homebuilt steel cutter Columbia was a bit ‘bogus’ after all.
Regular readers will remember our reports on the widespread search effort for this long-overdue 45-footer, run by a Frenchman operating under a British flag off the South American Coast. That story had a happy ending two weeks ago when the boat limped into Coquimbo, Chile, more than five weeks after her scheduled arrival. She was immediately placed under investigation by both British and Chilean authorities. The Brits questioned the validity of the vessel’s registry as well as owner Boguslaw ‘Bob’ Norwid-Niepoko’s status as a certified captain (Master). Cap’n Bob may also be in trouble with Chilean authorities, for ignoring that country’s stringent reporting requirements, as he did not check in when he entered Chilean waters.
Shortly after we went to press with our report on the Columbia fiasco, we were forwarded the following report, written by an enforcement officer of the UK’s
Maritime & Coastguard Agency: "The vessel was registered on the UK Small Ships Register as a pleasure yacht and did not come under UK legislation to operate as a commercial vessel. It could only operate as a leisure vessel for use of the owner, etc.The owner was shown on the UK register as Boguslaw Norwid-Niepoko at an address in Plymouth.
"Boguslaw Norwid-Niepoko does not reside in Plymouth but is apparently married to a Chilean and has a house in Chile. As the vessel has no UK contact on the registry, the MCA has removed the vessel from the UK flag.
"The maritime authorities in Chile are aware that the vessel is no longer under the UK flag and the Maritime Inspection Services have detained the vessel until such time that the vessel and owner comply with the maritime regulations.
"Information regarding the removal of the vessel from the UK registry and the detention by the maritime authority in Chile will be passed to all the MRCC’s and Coastguard that were involved in the search. They will also be made aware that the skipper does not hold any UK maritime qualification or certificate of competence."
Among the general public, his operation did not become controversial due to licensing issues, however, but because he operates long-range, bluewater sailing training exercises hundreds — in fact, thousands — of miles offshore without long-range communications capabilities, and seems to have complete disregard for arriving near his published dates, or making government authorities aware that his vessel is safe when he becomes seriously overdue.
If you’d like to chime in with a well-reasoned opinion, the key questions are these: Because Columbia was involved in a commercial enterprise, should the skipper have been obligated to report his whereabouts when the trip became long overdue? Was he negligent for not attempting outside contact, knowing his clients’ families would be anxious? Should such a vessel be required to carry some type of long-range communications device when operating offshore?
In December, fierce storms damaged one of the Bay’s more popular stops: Pier 1½. Though not completely closed, the outermost half of the 180-ft public dock has been roped off, leaving only the inner portion available to boaters. But Patrick McIlwain of Pacific Waterfront Partners, the firm that manages what’s known as The Piers — Pier 1½, 3 and 5 — says the free dock should be open soon. "We’ve removed part of the damaged dock and are replacing it today," he said. "We hope to reopen it by May 7."
Pier 1½, open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, only has a few rules — no rafting, no boats over 40 feet, and stays are limited to three hours are the biggies — and lots of benefits. It’s a great place to pick up crew, stop for lunch, or drop off seasick in-laws. When your daysail is over, walk up the ramp to La Mar Cebicheria Peruana and enjoy a gourmet Peruvian meal prepared by celebrity chef Gastón Acurio. And don’t pass up the interesting drink options, such as the Cholopolitan, the Pisco Sour, or the Bloody Lorcho — just be sure to read the ingredient list before ordering!
While today’s headlines are more likely to be about Tiger Woods’ sex life than about Haiti, relief efforts spawned by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake — which killed more than 150,000 people and devastated the impovershed nation on January 12 — are on-going. To help in the effort, Sausalito Cruising Club is holding a fundraiser tomorrow night called "An Evening of Hope." The event, which runs from 6-10 p.m. and is open to the public, will feature live music, a silent auction, and crafts activities for kids. "Lisa Rueff Schneider will be in Haiti from May 4-28," notes the flyer for the event. "She’ll be living in a tent city with 3,000 displaced women and children, and she hopes to raise $7,500 to benefit them directly." If you can’t make the event, you can still donate to the cause — to do so, email Lisa directly.