Combine a tree-lined lake, fresh air, good people and an occasional lick from Fred, a wet labrador, and what do you get?
The Gold Country Yacht Club's 22nd Annual "Go For the Gold" Regatta.
Approximately 100 avid sailors from throughout northern California took to the water during the weekend at Scotts Flat Lake just outside Nevada City. Proceeds from the event benefitted the club's junior sailing program and paid for other club expenses, but mostly satiated a sailor's appetite for a good time.
"Sure we're competitive, but come on, it's all about enjoying a day like this," said club member Frank Nin on a picture-perfect day Sunday. "Sailing has opened up doors in my life. The wind provides me an adrenaline rush, relaxation, and has pushed me alongside schools of dolphins. Times I'll never forget. Being out there (at Scotts Flat Lake) is no exception. It's a cherished time to spend among your friends." Nin is a four-year member of the club which touts approximately 80 members.
"Nothing is as peaceful as hearing the wind in your sails and water crashing against your hull. It's a gentle and soothing experience," club member Tish Buti said.
The regatta is equally special for Robin Gales of Truckee and his son Robby. "It's good exercise for me and a perfect father-and-son sport," Robin said as he was securing the ropes on his boat Sunday before launching. "But what makes this event so special for me is the location. It's so peaceful and beautiful out here and the facilities are great. The view (from the boat ramp) says it all."
On the competitive side, the event pits sailors against each other in Olympic circle racing style - essentially a sprint to the finish line for the top prize, which is a handcrafted wooden chest beholding a vial of gold. It's not that easy. The difficulty level is what further separates this regatta from others in the north state. Handling the wind conditions is critical. Make a bad decision, have your sail go limp, and it's over.
"You've got to assess the conditions here real carefully. The small size of the lake tends to play games with the wind and cause havoc (for the sailor)," race chairman Jerry M. Lewis said. "You can be going along good and suddenly fall back." Lewis of Alta Sierra did his best, placing second in the open keel division with Nevada City's Jeremy Gicker coming in third. Roseville's Don Hare finished second in the Catalina 22 fleet, followed by Lynn Buchanan of Nevada City in third.
The regatta is part of a group of races throughout northern California in which sailors from other clubs reunite during the spring and summer months. Other regattas are held at Lake Oroville and Whiskeytown, Folsom, Clear and Huntington lakes. Gold Country club members are partial to their own. "We believe it's one of the best regattas around. The lake is beautiful, the conditions are challenging and we run a tight ship around here," Lewis said. "We take pride in running a well-organized event and making sure everyone is having a good time. If you're a sailor, regardless of skill level, there's nothing worse than a poorly-run regatta."
Most competitors share the same sentiments about the event. Patti Larson of Minden, Nev. calls herself a "weekend warrior." Sailing partner Charles Heimler of Berkeley is involved for different reasons. "The lake is beautiful and it's fun to hang out with all the people, but I'm in it for the women and wine," Heimler smiled. "Seriously."
Sailors joined together for a barbecue dinner Saturday night and entertained the group with nautical war stories.
Janice Mauyomier of Sacramento decided to check out the event from the shore after learning about it during her brief stay in Grass Valley. She is the owner of Lucy, one of a few dogs which swam in the water around the boat launch area Sunday morning and licked the legs of ongoing sailors. It's all part of the scene. "Those are lucky licks. She's just wishing them good luck before they go off," Mauyomier said.
For information on joining the club, call Buti at 273-7819.