February 7, 2012
The past few days have been filled with much fun and I am feeling it. Spent some time on the local lake here watching the boats tune up for their German Nationals which are being sailed this upcoming weekend. My suitcases are next to the door ready for the journey back to home...to another regatta? The Northwest is tentatively called on for Green Bay. See you there.
I have many photos and more stories to write about this trip. Stay tuned!
Many thanks to Joerg and Orika, Torsten and Dagma (hope I spelled your name correctly!), and everyone else here who went out of their way to extend hospitality. I can only hope to reciprocate someday.
There Is No Word In German For
"Lake Effect Snow"
February 4, 2012
Top ten finishers Gold Fleet
Loretta and I woke up at 5 AM Friday so that we would be ready to leave for the new site with Joerg at 6 AM. I "relaxed" in the back of Joerg's camper (why does everyone who comes up to the door ask if I am sleeping?..just thinking!) on the 2.5 hour drive south. As we neared the new site, I kept hearing Joerg speak in German on the phone with the English phrase "lake effect snow" inserted to every conversation. As I was in the back with no windows, I wasn't seeing the snow falling heavier as we moved south. Finally I stuck my head near the window and saw what Joerg was talking about. We were in the middle of some farmer's white field watching Gareth Rowland and his trusty Landrover pulling a car with DN trailer that had become stuck. The new launch site was in a farmer's field down a bumpy farm road. The European championship had to be cancelled because of the snow. I asked Joerg why he used the English phrase to describe what was happening with the snow. Germans usually have a great descriptive word for everything but not in this case because there is no lake effect snow in Germany.
Congratulations to Gold Fleet champion Tomasz Zakrzewski.
Joerg's next immediate concern was where to hold the "prize giving" ceremony. We drove about 2.5 km back to the main road and pulled into what I would call a truck stop. We walked in and the place was absolutely mobbed with all the ice boaters and it was standing room only. We were lucky to find a couple of chairs near the front to watch Joerg recognize the race committee and Stan Macur and then award the trophies. And then the circus quickly dispersed leaving the truck stop owners to wonder just what had happened in their quiet little restaurant.
We then drove to the hotel where we would have stayed had the snow not fell.It was a very elegant Swedish hotel and we enjoyed lunch there with Mercedes & Hal and the stalwart British ice sailing team of Chris Williams and Gareth Rowland. Mercedes and I took a walk in the brisk weather and explored the street a bit. She and Hal along with the Brits decided to stay in Trollhatten to enjoy a dinner and make their way back to Germany today. Chris Williams is heading to Poland for the Ice Optimist World Championships and Gareth home.
So it back to Germany for us. Loretta and I both pestered Joerg until 3 AM to help keep him awake as he drove us home. I could tell he was getting more tired of answering our questions than from driving. Our heads hit the pillow at 3:30 AM and slept until 10:00. We just returned from breakfast at Joerg and Orika's and will be relaxing (or thinking in my case-NOT sleeping, ha) until we are to be collected for another party tonight.
Prescription for jet lag: Take 6 cups from this
I haven't had much of a chance to write about what I noticed on the day of the regatta. I will be adding more about that later. Sorry that some of this isn't exactly linear but I will get back to writing about the regatta and posting more photos a little bit later today. I am going to do some more thinking now with my Ipod and headphones plugged in. The 6 cups of strong coffee does not seem to have had much of an effect.
One Done-Euro Championship Next
February 2, 2012
Race PRC Stan Mercur's bullhorn and gold horn he uses to call them to the line.
WORLDS PRELIMINARY RESULTS HERE
A fantastic day on the ice. Woke up a bit concerned to the dusting of snow that greeted us this morning. The first race in the Gold was very challenging because of light air and sticky snow. The first race was won by Hans Ebler Hansen D92. James "T" Theiler was highest placing American in the first race but I don't recall exactly how he finished.
After the next Silver race, Gold lined up again in a building wind. Ron Sherry US44 lead all three laps to victory. Then another bronze race was sailed before the last Gold race. So three Gold races and the Worlds was called complete. (Loretta went down to the office and got this list for me-thanks!)
(Unofficial) Top 10 in the Gold:
1. P55 Tomasz Zakrzewski
2. C31 Karl Hannes
3. D92 Hans Ebler-Hansen
4. C6 Vaiko Voorema
5. US44 Ron Sherry
6. P65 Marek Bernat
7. C299 Jakub Zobal
8. G936 Jost Kolb
9. O311 Matiss Alvikis
10. P235 Adam Baranowsk
We are on the move again very early tomorrow morning to a lake 2.5 hours south of here with black ice to start the European championship. We think the name of the lake is Drattern but I can't find anything on the Google.
Check out Gareth Rowland's photos on Picasa.
2 mile walk out to the race course
Race committee ATV
Here are the scorers who were fascinating for me and Loretta to watch. The two gals (Kasha Mercur, Stan's daughter is in the red) sitting at the custom desk are writing while the PRO called numbers and also held a recording device. The flagman was standing behind her. She was calling in Polish
Dragon Wind Dancer or Swedish Kokopelli
Detail from the restaurant stairs.
6PM Update: Talked with Hal Bowman who reports that it was a tough one mile push out to the starting line and back in sticky snow. The humidity and cold also made for uncomfortable conditions. He said that the Silver qualifier got underway at about 3:30 and there was quite a bit of waiting around all day for the wind.
5 PM Update: A D fleet race began at 10 AM but was black flagged. The ice was really sticky and the wind came up a little for the Silver fleet race (top 12 in that race move to Gold). There were three races today, the mini qualifiers in the aluminum, bronze and silver. There was no Gold fleet race. The wind forecast looks better for tomorrow when they start the Gold.
3 PM Update:Rumor has it that there may have been one race today. Stay tuned for further updates.
AM Update: We three gals are hunkered down in the hotel again today as Joerg and some others continue the search for black ice. Last night Loretta skillfully drove down the cobbled narrow streets and found us a parking spot near the restaurant. I'm not quite sure if we are supposed to be driving on some of the streets (Madison residents-think State St.-open to buses, pedestrians, and bikes only) but as someone pointed out, our German license plates don't give us away as the clueless Americans that we are. I remain convinced that we are driving on sidewalks and the Swedes are just too polite and laid back to worry about us.
Continuing our tour of the gastronomic world, we dined at a Chinese buffett/Thai restaurant last night. The dessert buffet was different in that real ice cream was offered instead of the soft serve machines. And there were several different types of marshmallows rather than cookies.
Back at the hotel, we all gathered around a table in the bar with Ernesto, Niklas, Jost, and several others and talked about many things including ice boating insurance, various types of ice boating gear, and wondering when the wind will come up.
January 31, 2012
Another thrilling day in ice boating-this is the airport parking lot in Orebro.
Last night, a group of us including Hal & Mercedes Bowman, "T" (he's kind of a big deal [T is prone to throwing many Ron Burgandy quotes] ), Kent 'Capt. Cough' Baker, Eric Anderson, and Eben Whitcomb caravaned in search of a Danish steak house that was recommended to us by Christian Seeger. Somehow we ended up at Paco's, a Swedish Mexican restaurant that also served pasta and pizza for the ultimate multicultural experience.
Overcast skies greeted us as we opened the curtains this morning which gave me a little hope for wind, but the weather forecast was correct and racing was canceled today for lack of air.
Joerg, a flight instructor and former commercial jet pilot, found the the nearest airport and was able to secure a pilot and a Cessna in the hopes of finding newer ice in the area that wasn't snow covered. The Zeigers and Jeff Kent also drove around to look for better ice. Neither hunts were successful and we'll try again tomorrow.
I have no idea what's in store for us tonight. Loretta volunteered to do some of our laundry and will wait for her to return. Mercedes is on her way up to our room to visit.
The Excitement That IS Ice Boating!
View out the window of the camper [Joerg, if you ever see this photo, my feet were not on your counter, just an optical illusion]
The big "H" (high pressure system) hung in the sunny sky today and kept the wind shut off. Still, it was a relief for me to walk out on the lake and take it all in. Am hearing that tomorrow's forecast may be more of the same but you never know in ice boating. Of course once the racing begins, everyone forgets the waiting around. Many are attending an important regional hockey game tonight in Orebro.[A special hello to Marit from Jost!]
Here are some boat photos from the day.
Monotype stern steerer
Bread and Circuses
January 29, 2012
Traditional fare for opening ceremonies.
PM Update: Mercedes, Loretta, and I drove back to the ice at 3:00 to attend the Gold Cup Opening Ceremonies. What a sight as a boat from each country lined up and raised their flag as their national anthem was played over the loudspeakers. TIYC's Kent Baker raised the flag for America on his boat which was the late Wendell Sherry's who never missed a World's.
Raising of the flags.
I stood in line for sausage and the bread. Joerg mentioned something about eating the sausage the proper way or else there would be problems. I didn't think much about that until I started looking around for Loretta to perform a possible Heimlich maneuver on me because I ate a bit of the sausage skin which clung to the back of my throat for a while. After remaining calm and dealing with that minor emergency, I was told that the proper way to eat the sausage was to squeeze the meat out of the tube and eat it in that manner. Then I was fine and enjoyed the rest of the meal.
Setting up for the ceremony
At the conclusion of the ceremony, we were treated to a real fireworks display that probably was illegal in at least a few American states. Gareth Rowland, UK ice sailor, and Godie, the DN Euro webmaster and German ice sailor, did not disappoint and there was much oooing in ahhing in several foreign languages.
Tonight will be an early one for us because we are leaving for the ice at 7:45 AM Monday morning.
Joerg buys bread and beer for opening ceremonies.
Finally made it down to the ice this morning, an easy 20 minute drive through town and then the Swedish countryside. Some of the things I noticed were that most of the yards had well pruned fruit trees, the houses were painted with interesting colors but the palette was harmonious. As in Wisconsin, barn red was prevalent once in the countryside.
It felt good to be around the pits as sailors walked with purpose back and forth from their cars to their boats, it felt like home.
TRAILERS OF THE WORLD
Gareth Rowland, UK ice sailor.
Portal of Discovery
PM Report: All the sailors reported a great day of training on the ice. Kent Baker has the racer's report on his blog. Tonight I had a great chance to finally meet face to face the Europeans with whom I've been corresponding for several years.
Loretta, Mercedes, the European webmaster, Godie, and me.
We enjoyed another Swedish buffet in the hotel tonight. Stan Macur's race committee arrived from Poland and managed the registration. Opening ceremonies are scheduled for tomorrow in the late afternoon before sundown.
Dideric, center, and Ron Sherry waiting in line for registration.
AM Report: I finally had a relatively solid night of sleep and got up at 9:30 which made us scramble to get to the breakfast smorgasbord before it closed at 10. We sat with Rudy from Austria and Bogden, Polish sailor P123. The coffee is beautifully strong and packs a bigger punch than what I'm used to at home. We wandered out in the lobby to find Jorg attending to more details and setting up the the registration room. Mercedes joined us and we walked through sliding glass doors into a shopping mall with a grocery store at the other end.
In a shop that sold fishing poles, lures, and other related items, the owner immediately identified that we were with the ice boaters. He was happy to learn we were from the Midwest telling us he spends a lot of time in Minnesota and Wisconsin muskie fishing. He had recently returned from a fishing show in Chicago and commiserated with us about our recent lack of ice. (Though I'm thrilled to see that the 4LIYC is racing today!!) Ice fishing is very popular here and he talked about the Swedish version of the walleye which grows much larger here than the North American version.
The Swedish grocery store was just as large as an American one, perhaps even larger with clothing and shoes in addition to the food. It was set up just like an American grocery store (think Woodman's Wisconsin residents) which meant that just like when I shop Woodman's, I was anxious to get out as fast as I could. (Not a fan of grocery shopping.)
Thirteen miles away, ice boaters from around the world are setting up for a day of training. We are opting to hang around the hotel and do some more exploring.
Mercedes just joined us again bringing some stinky German cheese. She wants to catch up on the blogs so I'll sign off for now.
Jorg's Whirlwind Tour of 3 Countries in 10 Hours
We got up at 5:30 this morning to be ready for breakfast at 7:00. We were ready at 5:50 AM and went back to bed. Jorg called us shortly before 7 and we went back to bed again until 8. We finally dragged ourselves our of bed and joined Jorg for breakfast hitting the road at around 10:00 after a stop in Oldenberg to pick up the sound equipment.
The fastest we'll admit we saw Jorg driving was 150 km per hour which is probably slow for him. We raced across northern Germany and barely made the ferry to Denmark. There was only 30 minutes to spare for lunch and shopping on the first ferry.
As luck would have it, the store we were interested in was closed. We drove into Denmark and Jorg gave us a windshield tour of beautiful downtown Copenhagen. We boarded another ferry out of Denmark to Sweden and that trip only lasted fifteen minutes.
Once in Sweden, we continued to make good time until we reached our destination in Orebro. We checked in and were surprised to find ice boaters in the bar of all places from all over Europe reconnecting. It seems to be the same where ever ice boaters travel.
Our hotel room is a bit different than the typical American style in that there's a convenient porthole into the shower from the room and we are not sure why it's there. The room is quite cozy with one bed a little bigger than a single bed and Murphy style bunk beds. But we are happy and warm.
We arrived in the dark and are looking forward to doing some exploring tomorrow which will be a training day for the sailors.
As Kent Baker reported, history was made last night at Torsten's pizza party when Hal & Mercedes Bowman initiated us as charter members of the North Carolina Ice Yacht Club. Prior to last night, it had only two members.
Hurry Up and Wait...to go to Sweden!
January 26, 2012
On the move
PM Update: Sweden it is! We are leaving early in the morning for a long day of travel. Jorge's post on the Euro forum says that"the primary focus is on Lake Hjälmaren."
Eric Anderson chauffered me and Loretta to downtown Oldenberg for a little sight seeing and shopping. We are getting together again tonight for dinner then early to bed for what Google maps says is a 14 hour drive to the lake in Sweden. (Don't make me spell it again..) Probably won't get to update the website until late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
AM Update: Guten Morgen. After a perfect dinner at a Turkish restaurant, our heads finally hit the feather pillows at 12 AM .We both enjoyed a good night of sleep in this quiet neighborhood. Once in a while I hear what sounds like rushing water but realize it's the quietest train I've ever heard flying by not too far from here.
After pouring a cup of coffee, the first thing I did was check the European DN Forum in case Jorg had updated while we slept in and we needed to be ready to move. Looks like we continue to remain on stand by.
Kent Baker wrote about his day in the ice boat shop here. I wish the 4LIYC guys could see this immaculate shop with its high ceilings.
Zwei Have Arrived
January 25, 2012
After meeting up with Loretta in Detroit, our flights to Bremen through Toronto and Amsterdam went smoothly. I'm so thankful that Delta also came through with our luggage which was on the carousal in Bremen this morning. Both of us are jet lagged. I haven't slept soundly since last Sunday night and I am going to bed at the usual time here which means I think I missed a night's sleep somewhere.
View from our window. Everyone here is a master gardener.
I'm sitting here at a B&B in Bad Zwischenahn, Niedersachsen, Germany a few doors from Jorge's house enjoying a Krombacher Pilsner and a glass of mineral water. Bremen is so beautiful and reminds me of Wisconsin. Visiting here makes me realize just how much influence the German settlers had on Wisconsin's rural and farm landscapes. Bremen is also famous for plant nurseries and are the largest suppliers in Europe of all kinds of trees and shrubs. You can't turn around here without falling into a rhododendron bush. It's surprisingly green here and it must be stunning when the flowers are in bloom.
Stefan picked us up at the airport and gave us a nice tour of downtown Bremen, Oldenberg, and one of the huge plant nurseries. Of course we got to drive fast on the highway with no speed limit.
Ready for ice boaters
The highlight of the day was meeting Jorge's mother and sitting at her classic, cozy, German kitchen table with all the American ice boaters enjoying her homemade pea soup. She spoke only German but every one got the point across to her how much we enjoyed being treated so well.
Mama Bohn and Jorge
Of course the question remains, where will be going tomorrow? Mama Bohn had to admonish Jorge to concentrate on eating his soup and detach the cell phone from his ear but I don't think she was successful. The decision will be coming tomorrow.
Talar du engelska?
Though not official, it looks like the regatta is trending towards being called for Sandviken, Sweden. Finally!-the three Swedish phrases that I know- thanking someone many thousand times, ordering a glass of milk, and most importantly, asking if they speak English-will be put to use.
Sandviken's Wikipedia page describes the city as high-tech with an international flair which means that English will be spoken as in the case in most of Europe insuring Swedes won't have to endure my fractured attempts at communication.
Given that Sandviken will be farthest north (60.62 degrees N) I've ever traveled, my hope is to see a mystical Northern Lights display but the city may be too far south. (Madison is 43 degrees N.)
If Sweden is the official regatta site, the 14+ hour trip from Bremen to Sandviken will take us through Denmark and involves a ferry or two. The next time you hear from me, I'll be with Loretta and we'll be on the move.
Mercedes Auger, who will be attending the regatta with her husband Hal Bowman DN US1277 (he recently won the Silver fleet in the DN Western Region regatta in MN) has put together this handy list of sailors listed by country registered for the regatta.
Packing Heavy for Heat
January 21, 2012
Efficiently packing a suitcase for two weeks of winter travel is daunting enough (at least for this woman). Loretta and I also require room for our gear that we wear on the ice.
In addition to the warmest jacket I've ever worn, the centerpiece of my gear is a pair of Arctic explorer boots rated to 60 below zero F. (Tip of the Helmet, Mary Jane Schalk.) These boots are so warm that socks are not recommended (giving me a good excuse to get my toes painted yesterday).
They aren't the most fashion forward footwear I own because their immense size makes them look like props from a Herman Munster episode but I would never step foot on the ice without them. Loretta recently acquired a pair, appreciated their warmth at December's 2011 DN Centrals, and is currently puzzling out how to stuff them in her luggage.
I'm fortunate to have a world traveling friend who set me up with the type of suitcase featured in movie crime scenes where once opened, a body is discovered. (And like movie criminals, I do appreciate the convenience of the wheels.)
During a packing dry-run last week, I was pleasantly surprised to learn there's plenty of space for the boots with parka and snow pants (both jammed in an airless travel bag) and maybe even a body.
How Did I Get Here?
January 18, 2012
I am traveling to Europe for two weeks. There will be no tours of majestic cathedrals, medieval castles, or great museums. It’s the middle of winter but there will be no skiing in the European Alps. The journey begins in Germany, but I have no idea what European country will be the ultimate destination. Estonia? Sweden? Finland? Poland? Austria? I probably won't know until I fly in to Bremen, Germany on January 25, 2012.
I am ready to embrace hours of weary travel, cold weather, and the uncertainty of even experiencing what I have come to see, the 2012 DN Gold Cup World Championship regatta.Yet there is no question that I would pass up a lazy holiday on a tropical beach in order to stand on a piece of ice in a cold place far away from home to watch 50 DN ice boats at a time compete in one of the toughest regattas in the world.
How did I get to this place? Like my travel partner, Loretta Sherry Rehe, our fathers (Loren Sherry, Detroit Ice Yacht Club, and Dave Rosten, 4LIYC) built and raced ice boats. Though we don't race them, we belong to a very unusual group of people who actually enjoy serving as scorers and race committee members for ice boat regattas. My race committee experience includes many years of local club races, Renegade regattas, International Skeeter Association (ISA) regattas, and Northwest Ice Yacht Racing Association (NIYA) regattas. Loretta has scored numerous DN regattas including regional, North American, and World regattas.
My earliest memory of being on the ice is sitting on the shiny red runner plank hanging on while my Dad sailed his Skeeter class ice boat back in to the pits from the racing line on Lake Mendota. I don’t remember being scared even though I wasn’t wearing a helmet and we went fast. But those were different times.
For a kid hanging on to a Skeeter plank to an adult getting ready to attend a world ice boating event in Europe, it's been quite a journey. Check back every day as I write about what Loretta and I are discovering in Europe. Toledo Ice Yacht Club DNer Kent Baker is also attending. For a racer's point of view, be sure to read his blog.