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Light Air
El Toro sailors on the still waters of the Foster City Lagoon. ©2016 Mark F. Phillipps
Flight of the Bulls

May 12, 2016

A Day Adrift on a Long Lagoon

Clouds filled the sky as 22 sailors engaged in the 46th running of the Flight of the Bulls for El Toros on the Foster City Lagoon. The race committee was delighted that a pack of 10 eager Richmond Yacht Club Juniors showed up ready to tackle this typically long, tough race. The Juniors stayed eager, but the weather not so much. The system passing through left us with 0-2 knots of wind all day, consistent with the crystal-ball forecast by Gordie Nash. Not quite enough rain to be really annoying, but the really annoying part was when the wind went to almost zero when the drizzle came down. To the best of my knowledge none of the regulars for the Flight of the Bulls had ever experienced a drifter for this race that is often white knuckle sailing. Is it global warming or just a freak late season weather system? You decide.

Connell Phillipps
Connell Phillipps was among the Junior El Toro sailors. ©2016 Mark F. Phillipps

The start. ©2016 Mark F. Phillipps

As for the racing, the battle for the top spot started at the line with Art Lange and Fred Paxton duking out all the way up the first leg. I believe Fred rounded first, but somewhere between the first mark and the start/finish line Art got by and led for the rest of the race for his fourth straight win! Fred got a hard-earned second for the day. Vaughn Seifers and John Pacholski duked it out for third and fourth with Vaughn skillfully pushing his Lim hull to its LIMmits to take a decisive third place.

Fred P
Fred Paxton came in second. ©2016 Mark F. Phillipps

Art Lange
John Pacholski (left), with the victorious Art Lange.
©2016 Mark F. Phillipps

All through the day the Seniors kept looking back at the amazing sight of a tsunami of Juniors traveling in a tight pack ready to engulf them at the slightest mistake. It was a highly motivating sight. Due to the light conditions the RC took mercy on us and Vickie Gilmour shortened the course to just short of the bridge before the restaurants.

The race attracted lots of spectators this year along the course. Obviously, Foster City residents stay home when it rains and many of them were amused to see 22 El Toros passing through their back yards.

Noteworthy this year were three son/father teams: Wes and Vaughn Seifers; Sam and Nick Nash; and Nate and Mike Holden. Competing with your children in El Toros is the best, and you can't do that in an Opti!

A full list of the finishing positions will be posted on the ETIYRA site. Top honors went to:
1) Art Lange, SCS (Stevens Creek Sailing)
2) Fred Paxton, RYC
3) Vaughn Seifers, RYC
First Junior: Connell Phillips, RYC
First Bullette: Haily Boe, RYC

A big thank you to Vickie Gilmour who towed and launched a committee skiff all the way down from Lake Merritt and then drove around in the rain checking on and repositioning marks. And thanks to Kurt and Kelly Lahr for throwing a great after-race party at their home in Foster City. Also thanks to the other members of the FOTB team that made the day possible: Kurt Lahr and Mark Marlett for assisting Vickie on RC; Mark Miller for making an emergency run to West Marine to get a fuel line connector to get gas flowing to the RC motor; Diane Pacholski for handling registration and finishes; and Fred Paxton for supplying a loud-hailer and starting flag.

Next year's race is scheduled for Saturday, May 13 (it's always the Saturday before Mother's Day). Hopefully we will return to more energetic wind conditions.

— John Pacholski

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