DN Regatta Reports
It’s day 3 of the DN North American championship and I’m using my phone to compose this post while sitting on frozen Ft. Peck Reservoir. The second silver race was successfully sailed at 10 AM. Three attempts have been made to sail the third Silver race this morning but the wind had other plans. We are waiting on the ice for the wind to join the fun so we can complete the third Silver race. I’m having trouble uploading photos from the phone. Dan Biermann, the official measurer, is relaxing in a lawn chair directly in front of me. Several are napping in their boats. Gold fleeters are looking over their boats and equipment. Not a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon.
Day one is in the books with 4 total races completed. Visibility was low as we drove to the launch site but the weather here must be like Wisconsin, wait 5 minutes and it changes. In classic ice sailing style, competitors waited around for the wind to fill in. The wind finally made an appearance but kept the race committee on their toes with many shifts and swings. The ice changed during the day as the warm temperatures and sun softened it up. Facebook is filled with pictures of a beautiful sunset that accompanied us as we made our way back to the launch. A new term we learned that will literally stick with us all for months is “Montana Gumbo”, aka mud- caused by the warmer temperatures. Off to the lake for day 2 of racing, sorry for the short report but there are lot of details to take care of here.
Good morning from the Middle of Nowhere, the motto of Glasglow, MT. A sunny but windless day yesterday meant more time to visit, make deals, and soak in the vastness of this place. Registration was held last night at the hotel followed by a Speed Symposium where the top racers answered questions from the crowd. 61 competitors checked in last night and we were lucky enough to pick up 3 local DN racers. Click here to see line up for today’s racing.
Off to the lake soon for race day.
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.
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.
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.
Lake Puckaway survives recent warm temperatures, rain, snow, and comes through again for ice sailors. The DN Western Region Championship is called on for Lake Puckaway on January 4-5, 2020. Go over to idniyra.org for the latest information.
Breeze and hard, fast ice arrived on Lake Puckaway just in time for the 2019 DN Western Challenge. This regatta will be remembered by many of us for years to come.
The right way to start the week, a video from Jim McDonaugh from the weekend sailing on Buffalo Lake in Minnesota, potential site of the Western Challenge DN regatta.
The Great Western Challenge is “ON” for December 13-15, 2019.
Primary location is Lake Buffalo in Buffalo, MN., sailing out of Sturges Park.
Check back for update on Wednesday and for hotel information.