We were in blatant tourist mode yesterday and frequently pulled over to the side of the road to take photos of the magnificent scenery here. We finally met Tim Ogrinic, the local DN sailor who scouted the ice. DN trailers began arriving to the launch site throughout the day. The mood was relaxed and a few caught some rides in the light air. The sun and dry air made for a beautiful day. A Montana 7 F temperature is not like a Wisconsin 7 F because the climate is so much drier. At the end of the day, we drove to the Fort Peck Dam and watched a group of eagles fishing the open water. Everyone I spoke with shared their own stories of the wildlife they saw on their way here. NOAA is calling for sunshine and west winds 6 – 13 mph today. Registration and a Speed Symposium are on the agenda for tonight while racing officially begins Wednesday, January 22.
Time lapse video from Jeff Kent’s 40 hour journey from Boston to Montana. Jeff and his traveling partners Charlie Blair of Martha’s Vineyard, MA and Bernd Zeiger of Kiel, Germany drove nearly non-stop and completely avoided winter storm Jacob with a wide rounding maneuver.
The scorers practicing counting boats on the line.
A quick update before heading to the launch. Our caravan pulled in to the hotel at 9 PM Sunday evening. The winner to the race to Montana goes to Jeff Kent and crew who arrived a few hours ahead of us. The drive was fairly uneventful with a few miles of black ice to deal with in Minnesota. We stopped near sunset at Keelboat Park on the Missouri River in Bismark, North Dakota to let it sink in that we had reached the west. Heading to the launch in an hour and will update later. At breakfast, Peter Johanson, IDNIYRA Vice Commodore Jody Kjoller, and Trey Rose appeared after having driven straight through from the Toledo area. They stopped at the launch before coming to the hotel and planted the TIYC colors.
Green and Geneva are both wide open with only a little ice in the east end of each, so there is hope in two weeks. No place to go for January 24th. Both regattas are postponed until January 31, February 1 – 2, 2020. Next update Sunday, January 26, 2020.
The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to February 1 and 2. The next update will be Sunday, January 26. Check back here at that time. Perhaps Green Lake or Lake Geneva will be ready by then.
We were somewhere around Alma Center on the edge of the snow line when the coffee began to take hold and the wireless hotspot was strong enough to post. We should make Montana sometime tonight, Glasgow to be specific, population 3300. Lewis and Clark traveled within 15 miles of our sailing site on Fort Peck Reservoir, which has to be another first for an iceboat regatta.
ice sailing is not new to Montana nor Ft. Peck. Canyon Ferry is legendary for ice boating but this will be the first major regatta west of Minnesota. Our ice sailing friends in Montana, John Eisenlohr, Dave Gluek, and Dale Livezey have given advice and done some legwork that will result in a bunch of hardcore ice sailors converging on a 350 square mile sheet of ice. Fort Peck DN sailor, Tim, has scouted ice in brutal temperatures. Thank you all, for everything and for the adventure.
With apologies to Hunter S. Thompson, every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up a pile of 440 stainless and then drive like a bastard from Madison to Montana with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether (for the lock de-icer.)
The snow storm that rolled through the Four Lakes area is now headed east to temporarily cover up any sailable ice they may have. In the good news department, Joe Norton, the Admiral of Green Lake, WI, reported on his Facebook page that the “west end of big Green is still open! East end may blow out if wind comes up. We may have dodged a bullet!”
Co-PRO Joe Norton, event chair Daniel Hearn, myself, and the rest of the race committee of the DN North American championship are patiently waiting for confirmation that some of the only ice in North America is suitable for the regatta. If it happens, we’ll experience some serious seat-time as we drive to Fort Peck Reservoir in northeast Montana, a 15 hour drive from Madison (longer than a flight to Europe!) DN sailors from Nova Scotia, the east coast and beyond are driving west, taking the gamble that it will all work out. They don’t want to miss being part of something historic, the first continental iceboat regatta ever sailed in Montana. Where ever we go, I’ll post my personal updates here. Following along at the IDNIYRA and New England Ice Yacht Association websites.