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Wind plays havoc with horse, ponies at the races

NAWILIWILI — Unexpected gusts accompanying rain squalls created havoc at the Horse and Pony races, Thursday.

“We have a bunch of unhappy spinnakers,” said Sharon Gibson, who braved the driving rain to watch the three forerunners cope with unruly sails in the wind.

“OZone,” an Olson 30, capitalized on the approaching squall by taking a tight inside turn to overtake “Fast Company,” another Olson 30, coming in from the outbound course at the Thursday afternoon race.

But the winds gusted and the spinnakers collapsed from its graceful balloons into loud flapping sheets as the material protested being tethered in the wind.

Lines snaked wildly from “Fast Company’s” spinnaker as Jim Saylor’s voice could be heard above the wind and rain as the crew tried to regain control of the blowing piece of red material while trying to regain the lead.

“Speedy,” the third Olson 30 in the race,” had its hands full as the spinnaker filled with wind and threatened to topple the ship as its crew moved to counter the spinnaker’s effects in the gusts.

“We just underestimated the gusts that came in with the squall. We were just overpowered,” one crew member aboard “Speedy” said while watching the lasers cope with another squall during its race.

The bout with the wind gave “OZone” the yacht portion of the race on a 37:35 PHRF sail, but the winds weren’t done, yet, and Saylor, coming in fifth after relinquishing its lead at the end of the first lap, deftly commanded the laser to a first finish in the “Pony” section of the race.

Saylor commanded the tiny craft in choppy seas and 15-20 knot winds to a 14:43 elapsed sail for a 57:27 combined time and second place.

The pony sailor aboard “Lelele,” finishing the yacht portion of the race in second overall, finished second in the laser phase at 15:22 before the craft succumbed to the wind. The second finish yielded a 56:06 combined time for an overall first finish in the race.

Thor Temme, piloting the “OZone” laser, suffered in the wind just before the crossing for a 19:07 Pony sail and a combined 57:41 sail and third place.

Quanah Green, the laser skipper for “Speedy,” struggled with his tiny craft despite coming to the dinghy dock first overall.

At the recommendation of his crew, Green opted to change the sail on the laser to a larger sail, a decision that proved costly to the young sailor who will be winging to O‘ahu for the state laser races on Sept. 5.

The change to the larger sail played havoc on the young sailor’s ability to control the boat and the laser wallowed in the choppy seas as the three other lasers zipped into the lead.

The races continue on Thursday with the final race of the series taking place from 5 p.m.

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