The 79th annual Flight of the Lasers race, which began near the Balboa Pavilion and covered the majority of the bay, was held in breezy conditions on Sunday. That breeze challenged Pierce Hemphill, but he pressed on.
The youngest skipper, the 10-year-old Hemphill, capsized at one of the weather marks. His crew, Sebastian Nowlan, held onto the boom for the downwind leg to the finish since they could not get the boom to fit into the gooseneck. Their determination and struggles earned them the Bravery in the Face of Danger Award.
Originally called the "Flight of the Snowbirds," because of the wooden boats used in the race, the Flight of the Lasers event was renamed in 1975 after organizers decided to replace the aging, wooden craft with Olympic class Laser.
"It is really a great event that attracts avid Laser racers, families and young sailors," said race organizer Brett Hemphill. "Thus, we have trophies for the oldest skipper, first married couple, youngest boy and youngest girl."
The windy conditions combined with a bright sunny afternoon made for a lot of traffic on the bay this year.
Brian Cottrell of King Harbor Yacht Club finished first, followed by Wills Johnson (Newport Harbor YC), Phil Thompson, Joseph Hou (Newport Harbor YC) and Dais Hanscom (Newport Harbor YC).
The breezy conditions made for some tough luck for the participants. The oldest registered skipper, David Tingler, turtled his Laser and required outside assistance. His disqualification resulted in Don Stoughton getting the award for oldest skipper.
The first parent/child, finishing 22nd overall, was Nick and Kate Madigan (Newport Harbor YC).
The first married couple, Jim and Lindsey Beek, finished 29th overall.
Alexis Miller of Newport Harbor YC finished as the first girl, best costume, at 14th overall.
Siena Okuna of King Harbor YC was the top youngest girl finisher, at 29th overall.
— Reader submission