Teen sails to second place in nationals

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Storm Lake's Jake Larson placed second overall in the North American National Sailing Championships youth diviision held over the weekend in Clear Lake.

For the St. Mary's High School student, the experience was something of a blur. As a member of the Storm Lake Tornadoes football team, Jake went to practice on Thursday night, and immediately afterward the family raced to Clear Lake, where Jake skippered four races in the series on Friday. He traded in his water gear for pads as the family rushed to Sheldon, arriving 30 minutes before kickoff of the Storm Lake game on Friday. Then it was back to Clear Lake for more sailing, with 11 races total.

Wendy wasn't through, as she later had to make a quick drive to Ames, where her St. Mary's drill team girls were performing.

Jake was competing with an unfamiliar boat, borrowed from a friend in Des Moines, and a new crewperson in Becky Krause of Minneapolis. Jake normally sails with his mother Wendy in competition, but no adults can crew in the youth division.

At 210 pounds in football condition, Jake's light, strong crewmate was an ideal match, and they finished just 12 points out of first place Sunday, after breaking out of what was a three-way tie for second at the end of the day Saturday.

The Nationals were officiated by the same man who had coordinated the sailing events for the Olympic Games, who arrived in Iowa from China just in time for the event. The Youth Nationals, which includes competitors from all over North America, were held in the midwest for the first time.

It was a really huge event to bring to the region, and it was a great opportunity for Jake," said Andy Larson, Jake's father, a leader in local Hobie Cat sailing. "He has had an opportunity to sail in several championship events, and every year he has gotten a little better. Experience at the Nationals level is great - to get better you have to sail against the best."

Jake has opted not to compete in the Adult version of the Nationals, being held this week, deciding to make school and football his priorities for the rest of the season.

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