Geoff Sobering's Report from the DN Gold Cup and North Americans, Lake Winnebago, WI with reports, videos, photos, links, and more.
DN North American Championship
Feb. 12-13, 2005
Elk Lake, Traverse City, MI
Sunday, February 13, 2005
It was an eventful day for me, equipment-wise. I was making a series
of adjustments to my rig while the RC was setting the course. As the
Gold-fleet was lining up for the first race of the day I decided to
take a last quick run to check the final round of adjustments. I got
about 100 yards when my mast fell down. D'oh! The shackle holding
the port side-stay had opened up. The pin was nowhere to be found (and
the shackle body was a bit worse for wear, too). Luckily I had a
spare shackle on the boat, and I was able to limp back to the landing
and replace it with a somewhat larger item from my spares. Later, as
we lined up for the second (and final) Silver-fleet race, I noticed
that the bolts holding the Aluminum stiffener to my starboard runner
had loosened up, and one had actually fallen out! I didn't have an
Allen-wrench with me, but I discovered that my screwdriver would do in
Well, enough about my trials and tribulations. The racing today was
spectacular! The first races were sailed with the wind in the
mid-teens. By the second race for both fleets the wind had gotten a
bit lighter and was really shifting around. Matt Struble didn't leave
the fleet on the horizon as badly as yesterday, but still won the two
races quite convincingly. He did have one "off" race in the regatta -
his throw-out was twice the score of his other finishes. Next time
he'll just have to try harder to be more consistent...
Back to me... I learned a huge amount about mast-bend in the last two
days. The varying wind conditions and frequent races were a great
playpen. In the last race the changes I made got me up with the fleet
through the second lap - then I made a couple of bad wind-shift
decisions and lost a huge number of boats on one downwind leg...
Great regatta! I can't wait to get back out on the ice.
Saturday, Feb. 12, 2005
Via Geoff Sobering:
The first day of the North Americans was great! Winds started out in
the 11-13 knot range with temps right around 30. The ice was hard and
covered with about 1/2 of light snow; the bumps weren't bad. The wind
varied in strength and shifted over the day, but luckily it seemed that
the Silver fleet always started on the up-cycle, and we never had to
sail in the really light air the Gold fleet had for a couple of laps.
As the day progressed and the temperature rose, the ice got a bit soft
and some sailors switched to 100 degree runners.
Instead of three small fleets the RC decided on two larger ones, so
for the first time (and not to be repeated soon) I sailed the North
Americans in the Silver fleet.
All indications are that we'll easily get the final two races in
tomorrow morning, and probably head home in the afternoon.
Matt Struble is in a commanding lead, with three "horizon job"
The "White Birch Lodge" is a great location; they even have a
web-page about iceboating:
I'm staying just down the road at another hotel (White Birch was full when I got around to making arrangements).
Great regatta so far!
I'll hope you guys get some better wind tomorrow.
Line-up for the last Gold Fleet race of the day.
DN World Championship
Warner Beach Landing, Madison, WI, USA
January 20-21, 2005
Worlds Top 5 Finishers
For Complete Regatta Results, Click Here
1. Ron Sherry US 44, 6.00 pts.
2. Tomas Lindgren, S 81, 9.0 pts.
3. Matt Struble, US 183, 10 pts.
4. Thomas Karlsson Ostergren, S 580, 16 pts.
5. Jakob Schneider, P 679, 20 pts.
1. Randy Johnson, US 4000, 15 pts.
2. Richard Lemberg, US 4155, 18 pts.
3. Jim Gluek, US 4257, 20 pts.
4. Michael Ulbrich, US 1059, 28 pts.
5. Bob Cave, US 445, 31 pts.
1 Daniel Bierman, US 2301, 11 pts.
2 J. William Coberly, US 472, 11 pts.
3 Richard Kaiser, US 4249, 18 pts.
4 Robert Holman, US 3705, 23 pts.
5 Donald Williams, US 3909, 24 pts.
4LIYC Club Members at the DN Championships
Renegaders Tim McCormick, Doug Kolner, Don Anderson,
Deb Whitehorse, DNer Allen Penticoff,
Renegaders Greg McCormick center
DN World Championship Winners
Photo Credit: J. Lenon
Photo Credit: Don Williams
at the Crowne Plaza
Photo Credits: J. Lenon
January 23, 2005:
Geoff Sobering's Journey to the Golds
We all know how it all turned out, but the end-result didn't look so
certain just a few days ago.
My earlier narrative left off Tuesday evening with the prophetic words
"the flurries [have] started. Radar says there's more coming...".
Tuesday afternoon I got e-mail from Debbie Whitehorse letting me know
that the 4-Lakes Club was gearing up to help the Gold-Cup come to
Madison if necessary. I talked with Jerry Simon about his scouting of
Mendota and it sounded like it would be a possible place to race. In
the evening, there was a party at Fratello's (Fox River Brewing). Ron
Sherry brought some videos, including an incredible one called "Gods
of Speed" about the 2003 European Championship. This has to be one of
the best pieces of film I've ever seen about iceboating. While we
were watching videos and kibitzing about iceboating the snow started
in earnest. By the time we headed back to the hotel it was coming
down pretty hard and blowing almost horizontally at times.
Wednesday morning we woke up to what looked like about an inch or so
of snow on the ground; lots of wind, too. Like the proverbial
lemmings, we headed out to the ice. The temperature was cold, but OK.
Wind was up in the high teens to low/mid 20s. Most of the ice was
clear, but there were snow drifts over about 20% of the lake. A
couple of intrepid sailors went out and tried sailing. Mike Derusha
hit one drift at speed and smashed himself in the mouth with his
tiller, luckily no serious damage (he was back out in just a short
while); that set the tone for the morning, though. The RC postponed
while they drove and sailed down the SE end of the lake to see if the
ice and drifts were better there. Sometime around 11:00 the reports
came back: not great, but maybe... A course had been set to the
south, and the RC asked for a small group of volunteers to sail down
and have a mock race to see if the conditions were safe for "all out"
sailing. A fleet meeting was planned for 12:30 to decide on the next
step. Byron and I walked out on the lake and examined some of the
drifts ourselves. Whoa! We found a number of them deeper than 12
inches and at least one that was at least 18" high. Not light, fluffy
snow either... We saw one drift a boat had blasted through leaving
the tracks of all the hardware sticking out from the bottom of the
At 12:30 the reports came in: no good to the south. The RC had
already sent out requests for scouting various lakes between Detroit
and Minnesota (including Madison). IDNIYRA Vice-Commodore John Harper
headed down to Warner Park in Madison to sail Lake Mendota and verify
the reports from the 4-Lakes scouts. One of the Minneapolis sailors
was heading down to Lake Pepin, too. With Winnebago no longer a
viable venue, the fleet broke down and headed back to the hotel to
wait for the 6:00 pm meeting. Byron and I drove back to the hotel,
packed up our room, and headed out to an early dinner before 6:00.
The announcement at the meeting was as expected: Madison! Byron and I checked out of the room and headed back to Madison to sleep in our own beds.
Wednesday evening the "Media Circus" started with a call from a
Milwaukee Journal reporter looking for official information. When he
found out I had no official connection to the regatta he went away.
Thursday morning Byron and I met at Warner Park boat-landing at
7:30am. We set up our boats and headed out to scout the lake. Byron
went out first and checked the sheet of ice to the south, between
Maple Bluff and the university. I followed a bit later and headed
north and west. Byron caught up and we sailed up near the north shore
of the lake. The ice was really rough up there and we went back
across the crack running between Maple Bluff and picnic point to scout
the area between Maple Bluff and the University. We met another
sailor scouting and compared notes. He relayed the information to the
RC. They quickly came out and set the starting line down by the
University, with the windward mark well away from the blanketing
effects of bluff. I went out to sail the course. On my run down the
layline toward the leeward mark I blasted over and through something
huge. I turned around, parked and walked back to check it out. I'd
accidentally found a relatively smooth and soft spot to sail over a
big heave. 20 feet to the left of my track there was a 2 foot high
section of upthrust ice that would have ripped the boat apart. Whew!
I sailed down to the line and told the RC; they went out and marked
it. After that experience I hung out in pits until the course was
The Bronze-Fleet mini-qualifier race was the first race. I'd drawn
block #1 for the first start. It wasn't my best race; light air and
sticky conditions aren't my forte (by far). I wasn't DFL, but close;
in the immortal words of Warren Zevon, "I don't want to talk about
it". The Silver-Fleet mini-qualifier ran next. Great race. Merili
Randmaa, the Estonian sailing in her first major regatta walked away
with the race, qualifying for the Gold fleet. From here out others
have chronicled the details of the races better than I can, so I'll
just relate some of my experiences.
Friday, I got down to the pits late because I'd gone to the IDNIYRA
annual meeting the night before. A bit of tension getting the boat
together in a hurry. I was also uncertain about the conditions, but
luckily I was able to load up my extra runners and sail on the 4-Lakes
4-wheeler (thanks Greg and Debbie!). I'd been watching the other
boats push out, but by the time I was heading out the wind had picked
up and I only had to push a hundred yards or so. I got to the pits
over by Picnic Point with plenty of time. The Gold-Fleet race went
off smoothly and the Bronze fleet was next. Starting on the far-left
wasn't so bad as the wind had shifted a bit to the right. I got off
to a decent start. About half-way through the race I noticed that I
could count the number of boats in front of me. Wow! 10th place!
The Gold-Fleet excitement built as Ron Sherry, Matt Stuble, and Tomas
Lindgren swapped places at the top of the fleet. The wind was
building and I briefly thought about switching to my flatter sail, but
ended up just standing my mast up a bit to get more leech tension. In
the next race I was dogging Bob Rast (US 1313) around the course for
two and half laps. On the last downwind I was trailing about 10
boat-lengths when I saw a huge cloud of snow shoot up in front of me.
As I sailed by I saw the numbers 1313 inside the cloud. Sixth place!
Whoa - that's not supposed to happen. At the start of the final race
the RC announced it was our last. Not so good as the first two; I
dropped my mainsheet on both leeward mark groundings - that's not
fast... Came into the pits to load up the 4-Wheeler and watch the
last Gold-Fleet race. It was great to be around when Ron reclaimed
the Gold-Cup again! The snow started as we were sailing in...
Packing up the boats in the snow wasn't fun; knowing we were probably
shut-out of sailing for awhile didn't help. I dragged all the runners
inside, dumped the snow out of the boxes, wiped them off and sprayed
WD-40 on the edges. A bit of rest and I headed out to the hotel for
the awards ceremony. 3 points out of the silver; ugh, those
groundings really hurt. After dinner with Glenn Betzoldt and some
4-Lakes friends who "crashed" the party we went in to see the
trophies. Ron gave a great speech and took the Gold-Cup out for a
quick cleaning so it could be filled with Jagermeister. Drinking from
the trophy was a great way to finish a great evening and a great
Andre' Baby announced that the NAs are postponed two weeks. Hopefully
I can get time off to go and sail them...
Thanks to everyone who made this regatta possible. I couldn't begin
to name them all, so I won't even try.
12:00 noon skippers meeting - no racing in Fond du Lac
That must have been exciting...
Byron checks the depth of a drift.
January 21, 2005:
Racing Report from Deb Whitehorse
Congratulations Ron Sherry-DN Gold Cup Winner!
What a great day on the ice. The early morning started with light winds but thankfully the winds built up in time for the start of the first race, the Gold Qualifier, which started at around 10 AM. There was more wind than on Thursday and it kept building all day. At one point, gusts were reaching 20 mph. Matt Struble won the Gold Qualifier. Ron Sherry and Sweden's Tomas Lindgren each won two races in the Gold. (Disclaimer-I am really tired out and typing from memory. Top ten finishers in all fleets should be posted soon on the DN BB.) The Race Committee kept the action going all day to the last possible moment. It is snowing in Madison tonight. I'll have lots of good photos to post in the coming days, so please keep checking back. Thanks to all the competitors and race committee who made this such a fun regatta for those of us who were spectators.
January 20, 2005:
Racing Report from Deb Whitehorse
Met up with Greg and Jerry Simon this morning and we took the club's ATV with trailer out to the course. The boats had to negotiate a large heave which the race committee had marked very well. It was quite a ways out to the course. I'd estimate at least two miles.
The leeward mark was set up about a mile from the University of Wisconsin skyline. It was fun for me to actually meet in person many of the people I've emailed with over the years or whose names are famous in ice boating. It was also nice to be able to just enjoy the racing and excitement. I was highly impressed with how smooth the Worlds RC kept things moving. It was nice to compare notes with some of the scorers. Scoring DNs can be very difficult and these scorers know their stuff!
The Bronze Qualifiers and Silver Qualifiers were sailed, though drifts were a problem. The race committee was out on the course during racing trying to mark the worst ones. I don't know who won the Bronze qualifier, but I do know that a young woman from Europe (Estonia or Czech Republic-sorry but I'm not sure) who had come up through the Bronze won the Silver Qualifier.
The Gold Qualifier got off to a good start but then the wind died resulting in first place boat, Ron Sherry, receiving the black flag for being only seconds over the time limit! The crowd groaned in sympathy.
The wind dropping was the prelude to the snow flurries that diminished visibility to practically nothing. I could barely see past the leeward mark and Madison's skyline disappeared completely. So it was typical ice boating, stand around and wait for conditions. It wasn't until about 3:00 that the snow tapered off. We left the course around 3:30 but I'm pretty sure that the Gold Qualifier was not sailed because the wind had shifted and course would have needed to be changed.
I left the lake, the understanding was that racing would resume at 9:00 on
Friday, January 21. Of course, this is not official, check the DN
Bulletin Board or call the hotline for the most up to date
January 19, 2005:
DNs TO MADISON!
The DN Gold Cup and North American Regatta has moved from Lake Winnebago to Madison's largest lake, Lake Mendota. The DNs will use the Warner Beach landing on Woodward St. on Madison's north side. The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club is excited about greeting 120 DNs from 8 different countries when they come to compete on Lake Mendota. First race is at 11:00 AM Thursday, January 20.
Geoff Sobering's Journey to the Golds
Tuesday PM, January 18,2005
No sailing again today... sigh...
Everybody assembled for the 9:00am skippers meeting at the regatta HQ
hotel: 11:00am start; the fleet headed down to the ice. Wind had
been calm when we got up at about 7:00am. By 9:00 the airport was
reporting 14 knots and by 10:00 it was 16 with gusts to 24. The R/C
called a meeting at about 10:30 to announce that they had measured
measured winds up around 24 out on the course, and that with the
roughness of the ice they didn't think it was a good idea to race. An
hour postponement was the official declaration. A number of hardy
souls went out and tried sailing around. Byron and I watched to see
what would happen. The downwind and upwind turns seemed to be the
most problematic. One experienced sailor (identity withheld to
protect the foolish) flipped turning downwind from a too-slow upwind
course. Others went out with less drama. Most came in pretty
quickly. Peter Hoeper demonstrated an interesting technique to get
downwind to the pits: sitting forward of the mast and drifting
backwards. The Germans were out in their Opti-DN bombing around; that
thing can *really* get moving in enough wind! By the time the RC
finally called racing for the day, the wind was into the solidly 25
knot range out on the ice. By afternoon, the airport recorded a
steady 30 knots with gusts to nearly 40... Byron and I battened down
the boats and pointed them into the wind before leaving for lunch.
There was some interesting "life" coverage of the morning's activities
by Jim and his roving web-cam:
Check it out tomorrow morning for more live coverage, I'm sure.
The schedule for tomorrow is a _prompt_ 10:00am Bronze fleet start.
Hopefully we'll escape the snow tonite and be able to sail. Forecast
looks great: temps in the 20s and wind just over 10.
As of 5:10pm, the flurries started. Radar says there's more coming...
Byron was more optimistic and raised his sail, I
didn't... (my boat is behind)
Tuesday AM, January 18, 2005
Cold right now, but it's supposed to get warmer pretty quickly. Winds
are calm, but that's supposed to change pretty dramatically, too. By
afternoon, we're supposed to see 20+ knots of wind and snow. Overnight we might get as much as four inches (ugh!).
Some stats for the regatta:
120 boats registered: 50 gold, 35 silver, 35 bronze.
8 countries: Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the USA.
Monday PM, January 17, 2005
Not racing today. Too cold. Temps peaked at 3 degrees.
Byron, Peter and I (and a number of other DNers) spent the day at the
EAA museum (where it was warm!).
Jim McDonagh rigged up something with his cell-phone and
iceboating.net to upload real-time images from the regattta:
Monday AM, January 17, 2005
Woke up to a balmy -6F at the Oshkosh airport this morning. By 9:00
the mercury had rocketed up to -5... Forecast is looking pretty
on-target: temps are supposed to break into the positive numbers
around noon, and peak in the low single digits. Brrrrrr... Winds
are around 10 (probably about the same as yesterday).
Tomorrow should be fun. Temps starting out just above 10F and rising
all day to the low 20's. The wind should remove any relaxation
factor, though. It's supposed to start out in the low teens and
increase all day to above 20 knots. With fast ice that should make
for an interesting day.
Time to get suited up and head out for the opening ceremonies at
11:00... and the first race at noon.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Day Zero Report
The day started better than expected - or at least warmer. When Byron
and I met in Sun Prairie to drive up to Oshkosh this morning it was a
balmy 3 degrees above zero - better than the below zero that was
forecast. The temps hung in right around 4 for the entire drive up to
the launch site. On the road down to the landing, we were passed by a
van with a "Swedish Ice Sailing Team" logo on the roof-rack - this must
be the place! We arrived at 11:00 and drove out to the end of the
line of trucks, vans, and trailers. We bundled up and started putting
together our boats. A couple of super-hardy individuals braved to
cold to sail out onto the lake. Byron finally couldn't stand it
anymore and pushed his boat out over the crack separating the pits
from the lake and sailed away. After a bit of hesitation I suited up
and went out too. I met up with Byron to leeward of the practice
course and we decided to do some hot laps to tune up our rigs. Jim
Glueck had dropped my new sail off at the boat and I needed to figure
out how to trim it; Byron was changing the mast-step position on his
boat. After a few laps we were both cold and headed in to add layers.
While I was taking some pictures in the pits, I saw Peter Lundt [4LIYC DNer-ed.] drive up. He parked next to us and started setting up his boat. Byron and I went back out for some more tuning. Around 3:30 we decided it was time to head in before the sun got much closer to the horizon and the temps plummeted.
Registration was in the hotel across the street from the place we're
staying. After getting settled in the room, we headed over for a
couple of hours of swapping iceboating stories and speculating about
the weather to come. John Davenport and his crew got the everybody
registered pretty quickly, although there are enough people here that
there was a pretty long line.
After registering and swapping more stories, we headed out to dinner
and to the room to tune up runners and relax. The regatta starts
tomorrow with the opening flag ceremony at 11:00 and the Bronze fleet
mini-qualifier at 12:00. Forecast is the temperature should be about
3 degrees by then...
Our end of the pits
Friday, January 14, 2005
Day Minus Two Report
What a week! Last weekend it looked like almost the only sailable ice
in the Midwest (and maybe even all of almost North-America) was on the
Wisconsin-Minnesota border. Lake Pepin was the primary site for the
DN Gold-Cup and NA regattas. Wednesday changed everything. A warm
rain fell over much of Wisconsin, and most of the snow melted onto the
surface of the lakes. Wednesday night I looked at the reflections of
the city lights in the water standing on top of the ice on Lake Monona
in Madison. Thursday morning the surfaces of both big lakes in
Madison were smooth. A strong wind and slowly dropping temperatures
Thursday cleaned things up even more. As John Davenport put it in his
Western-Region hotline message, the "miracle Zamboni" really worked
it's magic on the lakes. Because of the forecast ultra-cold
temperatures, John had already postponed the GC/NA regatta start by a
day. By Thursday night he had moved the primary site 200 miles east
from Pepin to Winnebago.
Last night I got out of work "early" (5:30!) and headed over to the
Nordhaus "Boatwerks" to sharpen up my runners. At the Western
Regional regatta last week I got tired of looking at my mast plowing
through the wind sideways (terribly over-rotated), and decided I
needed to figure out how to pull back on the boom to straighten it
out. The problem is that the luff boat-rope on my current sails stops
about 3 inches above the tack, so when I use the boom to pull the mast
more in-line with the boat, the sail-cloth just tears away from the
boltrope. After some consternation I decided to just throw some money
at the problem and called Jim Gluek at Quantum to get a new sail (at
least some payback for the overtime I've been putting in at work the
last few months!).
Byron and I are just waiting for the final call on location to make
our final plans and reservations. Currently, the we'll be driving up
to Oshkosh Sunday morning, setting up the boats in the "heat of the
afternoon" (5 degrees!), and maybe even do a bit of sailing
The Gold-Cup regatta starts Monday morning. Temps aren't forecast to
break zero until almost noon, but hopefully we'll get some racing in
during the afternoon. I'm packing every bit of warm clothing I have!
It looks like there's a warming trend Tuesday (20 degree highs -
2005 DN Western
Regionals by Geoff Sobering
Geoff Sobering and Byron Tetzlaff at the DN Western Regionals
Photos Posted on Minnesota
Sunday night, January 8, 2005
The second day of the regatta was warmer and perhaps slightly windier,
although the wind velocity varied quite a bit and there were a couple
of frustratingly slow races. The snow cover on the ice had stiffened
up quite a bit overnight, making it pretty sticky. Interestingly,
there were some patches were the snow was beginning to blow/sublime
away. The RC was able to get off four races in both the gold and
silver fleets to complete the seven-race regatta by about 1:30. The
Gold-Fleet winner is Markham Chatterton of La Crosse; Jane Pegal came
in second. The Silver-Fleet winner is John Loomis of Minnetonka.
Other than one drifter where I was able to keep my boat moving better
than Byron, this was his day. Most of the time I couldn't seem to get
my boat going, while Byron was mixing it up in the middle of the pack
all day. The final results haven't been posted yet, but I suspect
that Byron's Sunday finishes will put him ahead of me in the overall
All in all this was an outstanding regatta. Very tactical races, with
varying wind strength and direction across the course and over time.
Very different from the usual "hang on until the layline..." races we
so often have in steady wind. A great job by the Western Region
organizers in finding a sheet of ice after all the snow in the past
week. Special thanks to Markham for going out and sailing Pepin on
Thursday. Based on preliminary reports, Lake Pepin may be the best
site for the DN Gold-Cup and North-American Championship the week
after next. It's a great venue, with all the lodging lined up along
the lake, less than a mile from launch site.
The drive back was a bit more exciting than we would have liked. I-90
iced up just north of Madison, and we crawled past quite a few
vehicles off the road at funny angles, and one major accident. I only
personally encountered one brief patch of ice, but that was enough..
Byron tells me that when he got home all all the forward-facing parts
of his boat were coated in 3/4" of ice.
Saturday, January 7, 2005
Good first day. About sixty boats split into gold and silver fleets.
Variable winds (speed and direction), but we got three races in both
The forecast was almost spot-on... Luckily, they got the temperature
wrong and instead of being below 10 degrees in the early morning it
was 20. Much nicer for setting up boats. Unfortunately, the wind
forecast was accurate. Almost nothing until about 11:00am, then the
wind filled in to the around 7 knots. This held for most of the day
with the velocity varying between 3 and 8 knots.
Byron and I traded places over the day. In the morning I did
reasonably well, but by the last race I was picking up the back of the
pack and Byron was trading places up in the middle.
Tomorrow's forecast is for slowly falling winds starting out near 10.
We should get in a good completion to the regatta.