Ice Sailors Extend the Season on Dirt

Ice Sailors Extend the Season on Dirt


Congratulations to several of our 4LIYC members for their podium finishes at the 2022 Blokart North American Championship sailed at Ivanpah, Nevada.

From left, Wayne Schmiedlin 2nd Performance Heavy, Aiden Schmiedlin 1st Performance Light (6 overall), Gary Nordhaus 2nd Production Light, Jim Nordhaus 2nd Performance Super (2nd overall), Geoff Sobering 1st Performance Super (1st overall), Lars Barber 2nd Performance Middle, and Brad Wagner 3rd Performance Super (5th overall.)

Even after several years working Race Committee for the North American Blokart Association at the cathedral of land sailing in Ivanpah, Nevada, I find more similarities than differences between ice sailing and land sailing.

I assumed that, unlike ice sailors, dirt sailors had an unlimited supply of venues for sailing. It turns out that land sailors have to monitor surface conditions almost as closely as ice checkers. Dirt just aint dirt, and not all playas are sailable. Just like we search for black ice, they hunt for smooth playas.

Ice sailors dread shell ice while dirt sailors pay attention to rain showers, leaving a bumpy, rutted surface. If a playa dries too quickly, the surface can “cup,” resulting in a rough track. The week before the Blokart NAs, a substantial rain had fallen at Ivanpah, changing the dry lake into an actual wet lake. The surface dried out at the optimal rate, and the rain Zambonied the lumps and bumps, leaving an excellent racing track.

During sturgeon spearing season, fishing clubs plot Lake Winnebago with wooden stakes for vehicle control, but these go away. On some playas, wooden claim stakes are popping up placed by speculators hoping to strike it big in lithium mining.

Ivanpah is unique because the Bureau of Land Management has specifically designated it as an area for “wind sailing.” If you ever get the chance to attend a land sailing regatta at Ivanpah, you won’t regret the experience.

2021 Renegade Championship – Nite Commodore’s Cup Day 2

2021 Renegade Championship – Nite Commodore’s Cup Day 2

4LIYC members Tim McCormick, left, and Ron Rosten, right, line up in the one and two blocks for the fourth Renegade race.

Sunday’s conditions were a paradox of wind with intermittent fog. The Nites were the first to sail, and Green Lake Ice Yacht Club’s Byron Hill won his first race of the day.

The wind picked up, which made for an exciting and competitive Renegade race won by Tim McCormick. The Nites were able to sail one more, again won by Byron Hill.

The Renegades lined up for race four which was a four-lapper. After two laps, a competitor pulled in and informed the Race Committee that the weather mark had fallen because he had hit it. Chief Judge and Nite Commodore John Hayashi, assisted by Pat Heppert, immediately decided that sailors fishing around for the weather mark in the ever-lower visibility was a lousy situation and black-flagged the race.

Congratulations to Jim Gluek for his second Renegade Championship and Byron Hill for his victory in the Nite Class. Thanks to John Hayashi, the Green Lake Ice Yacht Club, and Pat Heppert for all his help.

The celebratory braunschweiger and onion sandwiches provided by Green Lake Ice Yacht Club’s Debbie Biermann at the trophy presentation were much appreciated. Her husband, Dan’s, birthday is coming up, and he asked her to make them rather than a birthday cake. We all hope it’s a new tradition.

Class A Skeeter sailors Ken White Horse and Paul Krueger haven’t had the conditions to sail this season. Mike Ripp made sure Ken kept his racing skills tuned up and lent him his Renegade to race in the regatta. Paul Krueger joined Ken as a coach, pit crew, and ATV driver.

Thanks, Peter Sarelis, for traveling to the regatta from Michigan and representing the Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club.

2021 Renegade Championship – Nite Commodore’s Cup Day 2

Nite Nationals Day 2: Regatta Completed!



Saturday at the Nite Nationals was a perfect combination of steady wind, sunshine, and fast racing. Congratulations to Chad Rechcygl who won the Gold fleet in a rather dramatic way and to Dick Grota, a literal Grand Master, for his Silver fleet win. It was an early-to-sleep Friday night in order to make Sunday’s first race scheduled for 8 AM.  Despite my own groaning at having to get seriously moving before sunrise, it was the right call. Getting on the lake at 7 AM ensured that trailers were able to easily leave the landing before the ice softened too much, unlike last year’s Nite Nationals on Kegonsa where a bridge over troubled landing waters had to be deployed.

Lively winds and rutted ice put tremendous loads on the boats. Other than rigs coming down and a few mast failures, the competitors used good judgement and kept the racing safe. In race eight,Chad Rechcygl, who was leading the Gold fleet in points at the time, had something happen at the worst possible time, his hull broke. As the Silver fleet raced for the last time of the day, Chad faced the prospect of not being able to complete the regatta. However, Nite Class rules allow for equipment substitution. When Toledo Ice Yacht Club’s Alex Chabalowski finished Silver fleet race nine sailing in Nite Commodore John Hayashi’s canary yellow boat, Chad jumped in the boat for the last Gold fleet race, finished fourth, and won the regatta. During prize-giving, Chad credited the help he received from Tom Hyslop for his victory and what it meant to be able to sail with Pewaukee Nite guys Tom Sweitzer and Mark Prange. Another Pewaukee sailor, Dick Grota, made it look easy in both light and heavy air with his Silver fleet win. Also of note was the top female sailor, TIYC’s Anita Bersie Chabalowski, who placed third in the Silver fleet. I don’t think she ever stopped smiling all weekend.

The 4LIYC was represented with Daniel Hearn, Brad Wagner, Lars Barber, and Don Sanford. Daniel finished 3rd in the Gold fleet sailing Joe Norton’s boat. Brad Wagner, who is new to racing this season, won race four on Friday, placed fifth in the Silver fleet, and walked away with the top rookie award. Lars Barber’s mast was one of the casualties of the regatta but he was already making plans to check on the Sitka supply at McCormick Lumber this week for the next one. A big 4LIYC congratulations to Don Sanford who won two races in the Silver fleet and placed second overall.

Thanks to all the competitors, the Nite Class, the Green Lake Ice Yacht Club, John Hayashi, Joe Norton for everything, and to Todd Morgan who helped scout ice and gave a film crew a ride out to the course in his beautiful B Skeeter. A special thank you to Mary Jane Schalk who tabulated and published all the live results from the offshore office!


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