Thursday, March 4, 2010

NAs Day One, Really.

Pics 1. Moving out to the starting line. Great ice, no wind. Click to see detail.

Pic 2. Lining up hopefully... on a new line. Wind shift!

Pic 3. Pat Fitzgerald uses a critical piece of equipment on a day like this, his chair.
Pic 4 if there is only one, isn't it just an M?

The forecast 5-7 knot winds did not arrive, or at least stick around long. There was one silver qualifying race and three or four line resets. FInally, at 4 pm, the race committee called it a day. No one complained, it had been eight houurs on the ice at that point.

The breeze arrived just as most of the boats were under cover for the night. A dozen or so went back out to enjoy the 10-1 knot breezes until just before sunset at 645 pm.

The qualifying race was good, and I personally was happy with 5/6th of it. We had a light, steady breeze of just above 5 mph at the start. The left side was in a bit more breeze, and those on the right went close to shore for a lift. As it turned out, the right side made out slightly. I started in the middle of the port tack starters. Unable to run, I reached behind the boats near me, got good boat speed, and sailed fast in clear air. I tacked early, which paid off some, and tacked back to port in the middle of the boats coming in from the other side.

I rounded about 18th with great boat speed and immediately passed anothe three or four boats. I was 14th at the leeward mark, and working on passing Randy and Sam. My upwind speed and pointing were good, and I finally got by Randy as he tacked a bit before me for the mark, and I sailed a bit further and approached the mark lower and faster, Sam was hopping out of the boat at eavry tack and jibe to push the boat up to full speed. Ah to be fifteen and with two good legs. But I need to discus the "return the boat to wind propulsion" rules...

I was 13th at the leeward mark and keeping speed up well. One more boat to pass to qualify up! Again pointing well and sailing fast up wind, I passed another three boats by the windward mark. Everyone was well spread out, and some were being lapped. With great speed after rounding the weather mark, I saw the boats in front of me slowing. As the wind pressure diminished on my rig, I knew I had just left good wind, and it was moving down the lake, so I jibed. Big mistake, I lost lots of speed and had to go up to almost close hauled to get it back. I jibed back, sailed fast, but lost at least six boats, finishing 17th, or fifth after the 12 qualifiers. Boat speed is king, dummy me.

Most of the faster boats used flat sails (ABSS or JD Speed sails) and I used an FO1. Later, Pete Johns and I both experimented with sails in the light winds and bith concluded the flat sails were better in the light winds with this fast ice.

But that was all the excitement. The only other high point in the pits was finding a lost M&M. As it melted into the ice, there were interesting "worm trails" of blue carying the coating away down into the ice. Not the exciting racing we all expected, but something. Loretta is posting results, so I will not duplicate here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

NAs Day one, kind of

The German Flag and anthem, start of the opening ceremony.

Ahhhhh iceboating. A beautiful venue, bright sunny sky, wonderful black ice in March, 50 or sixty of your best friends, boat and set-up done, race committee in place. What to do? What's missing?


Nice opening ceremony with four nationalities present (Poland, Germany, Canada and US). See pics. Eight or ten brave souls push-kicked onto the sheet, across the three cracks. The morning was cold, so the ice sheets had shrunk, and a bit of open water was between the cracks, ao runners needed to be lifted over the 2 foot gap at the first crack. The rest were tight enough to push or glide right over. There was the hint of a breeze, and the ice was so fast that the boats could sustain speed if you got them going. Barely. But a turn slowed the boat enough that it would coast to a stop. Mostly it was lulls. Kicking, scooter style, would allow the boats to coast over a hundred yards, so transport was energy-economical.

So on a windless day, lots of ice discussions were had about the pit, and in knots of boats everywhere they happened to be. My personal knot happened to be over the second crack where we intend to sail. The marks from the day before were still up. Early arrivals yesterday sailed around a course between marks set a mile and a half apart, and the distant mark stayed distant today.

The ice is clear (black) and thick. The bright sun was causing it to expand. A local news reporter (TV) was getting no action, but he did get to experience a great little ice quake. View the video and listen carefully to a few seconds to the sounds of the ice discussing the day...

For the non-sailors, you also get a view of my boat packed for a day of sailing. Six runners are in a saddlebag style carrier draped over the front of the boat. A second sail, a speed sail in this case, is tied to the side. A tool kit, water, and the stickers required to identify the components used in racing are in the cockpit.

Alas. A windless day. At three, the race committee called the day over, and we adjourned to the hotel for meals, meetings and more discussions.

The annual meeting followed pre-dinner and was quite business-like. Two proposals will be on the ballot, to allow foam cores where solid wood is not specified, and to specify a minimum bottom thickness beneath the cockpit. A third proposal to alllow 3/8 plate runners went down in near-unaminous defeat. A short editorial paragraph by me is below on that subject.

The Ice Opti mast raffle prize was awarded. A new mast, donated originally by Jeff Kent, won last year by Ken Smith (me), was finished, fitted with an external hound made (but not donated) by Bob Rast, and donated to fund-raise for youth sailing. Mast graphics were donated by Acuity, who is a supplier of hull number vinyl graphics. Neil Lynch, a yooper newcomer to the sport, was the luck winner. Go Neil!

Oh if tomorrow brings wind with the glorious setting and weather, what a regatta this will be!


The proposal has been kicking around for a few years. Making 3/8 plate runners would or would not be feasible. They would or would not be strong enough. Adding such plates would or would not incerase runner inventory.

Well, one of the guys made a few sets, sailed them in extreme conditions, and found them to be great in snow, equal or better than 1/4 inch plates in hard ice, and a great bargain. For a new guy, a good investment that would have him in a competative runner in most conditions. Further, if 36 inch 3/8 plates were legal, that one runner set would be potentially the Universal Runner. It would make 3/8 inserts, now the most universal runner, most advantageous only in certain conditions. The other niche specialty runners would still be niche specialty runners for certain conditions, of course.

Wow. One runner set for fast smooth ice, with a capability to sail in three to four inches of snow also. Thats what I find most all the time!

So who is the proposed rule change good for? A. Anyone trying to enter the sport. A much smaller initial investment gets a runner set that is good-to-great in mostly all conditions. Runner inventory is not a big barrier to competative edge!

Who is that bad for? Everyone that has a huge runner inventory. No market for 1/4 inch plates, reduced market for other inserts. And now a new set of runners to invest in!

But for a new-to-the-sport person's perspective: No need for 1/4 inch pates or expensive sets of inserts. One set to do almost everything!

Who votes to allow such measures on the ballot? All the guys and a few gals with runner inventories and an a continuing commitment to the sport, the fanatics who travel all over teh world just to slide around a lake for a few hours.

Too bad, this is not good news for growing the participation base, IMHO. I was one of the dissenters.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pits Monday, practice day

Here are a few views of the pits in our small cove, late afternoon Monday.


Thanks for the great feedback from the Worlds blog. I wasn’t going to blog the NAs, but it’s a long trip. . .

After searching, hoping, trying, sailing, and fighting weather, the conclusion was that the North American Continent had no sailable ice within range (not counting Canyon Ferry, MT) in either the US or Canada. But JD and Jim McDononagh decided to go to the “unofficial” site in northern Michigan by way of the north shore of Lake Superior. They confirmed the rumored great ice (and no snow) on the north shore of Gitchie-goomey.

In the conference call at which the decision was made, there was much hand wringing. Our by-laws require the regatta to be complete by the Saturday after the called date. There was neither ice nor the forecasts anywhere that would lead to new ice, or refreshed ice, anywhere. Sigh. OK. Thunder Bay is the only game available. Have fun guys, it too far for us.

Now how and who to travel with, because even from Chicago, its over 700 miles to there. The WI/IL contingent (after soul searching and spousal pleadings and work planning) consists of Wendell Sherry (who was in Traverse Bay waiting), Peter Johns, Lou Loeneke, Bob Cave, Mark Isabell, Steve Orelebek, Pat Fitzgerald and me. The MN contingent is to be determined as well as who is in from the East and Centrals and Canada. There are four European entries traveling with our resident Polish sailor from Chicago.

Pat Fitzgerald and I ended up driving together. Sunday found us in Duluth, where it was recommended we stop. The deer and moose hazard on the roads north were considered excessive, so we got a good night’s sleep, found Izzi/Orlie and Loneke/Cave and Pete also stayed at the same place. The ice is great, the wind was light and lots of nice practice this afternoon. There were 50 boats on the ice when we left for dinner. Racing starts tomorrow, Wednesday.

Friday, February 12, 2010

European Championship Complete

An optimistic morning skippers meeting brought about half the sailors derssed to sail.

But wind and snow had done its work, and teh regatta closed with 4 Gold races, three each Silver and Bronze, and two Aluminium.

Some Photos of the ceremony follow, including of B Zeiger, the European Champ, and Ron Sherrry, third.

Everyone packed up and hit the road, headed in various directions. I joined Derek and Adam and headed to northern Poland, a 12 to 14 hour trek. Uneventful, except we lost a trailer wheel half a kilometer from our destination. We went about a quarter mile on the rim to a gas station, and put on teh spare with two lug bolts from teh other side, and made it home. The Ice Gods must have been smiling on Adam all week. He drove both the boat and the car hard and all but made it home...

This will close out the trek log for teh World Championship for me. Thanks for following.

Two weeks until teh North Americans!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

pictures and video

Sorry, this forum is a bit difficultult to edit. I intended these photos and video be in the last post.

Here are a few shots of the dining facility and dinner at the Seehotel, Rust Austria, followed by the remnants of the collision. and a video of Mike Derusha's start in the last A fleet race.

I am using an i-phone camera, so the quality is not the best, and am more focused on racing than reporting. However, many excellent pics are on this site:

Blog Feb 10

First day of the EC

With the ice size and the number of problems in the GC, the race committee decided to divide the fleet into fourths, making for smaller fleets. The 10 o'clock start got delayed slightly as the wind refused to settle down. Finally about 10:30 the D fleet got started in light wind. The leaders barely made the time limit, but succeeded. The C fleet lined up promptly and started in wind even lighter. No one around me started a watch, and that may also have been true of the race committee, but the black flag never came out. As the last boats finished, the wind shifted 30 degrees and came up a bi, and the line was taken in to reset for the new wind.

B fleet started, and I was in position 28, mid fleet on the left and unable to run. Chris clark was kind enoough to give me a push, which is not nearlly enough to keep up with sprinters. I got up to speed and tacked for clear air. The boat moved well and I was mid-fleet at the first weather mark. I gybed in a percieved wind shift and passed a few more boat down wind. The breeze seemed to be holding and I rode the port tack to nearly the layline -big mistake in shifty winds! Just as I approached the starboard layline, a 30 degree wind shift hit, a big port tack lift. Now I was nowhere near the lay line and I continued to shore where I was forced to tack. Still short of layline, the ten or so boats near me all had to tack twice more to reach the mark. Now near the back of the fleet, we laid the leeward mark without gybing. One more circuit and the race was done. My finish was 37.

Stan had a new line set and gold fleet started. US44 doninated the race at every mark.

Silver fleet up next, but another wind shift meant another starting line. We were now more than 90 degrees from the first course of the day, but wind was up a bit. My spot was taken by someone who thought it was his, so I moved to the end of the line with Wendell. Wendell had a breakdown in the first race. I did a scooter-kick start and fell off for speed. Felt fast, and moved up and down in the fleet in the course of the race. Finished 38th.

Awards for worlds followed, and a nice affair. Photos show my traveling companion Adam wining second in gold, and Michael wining gold. Mike Derusha took second in silver. Hal Bowman and Mercedes took the dance floor by storm.

Second day of EC

Good news: wind was up. Bad news, Snow fell all day. Order was A-C-D-A-B-C-D All but D completed before low visibility in blowing and drifting snow and cold led race committee to call it for the day. In the US, we'd have probably quit long before, called it a regatta, and gone home. Here, we come back to,orrow for another look. A bit better day for the US team. Ron took 4-3, Mike Derusha took a 15, Aaron took a 6-8 (I think, both excellent finishes), Dan Connell took a 6th. Four gold, three silver and Bronze, two Aluminum races complete.

Unofficial standings: Berndt Zeiger in 1st by three over
Michael Burczynski in scoond by three over
Ron Sherry

Mike Derusha, Silver second

Lucas and Adam, Gold third and second place winners

Michael, winner of Gold Cup World Championship

Hal and Mercedes, they owned the dance floor

Sailing EC day 2, wind and snow

And drifts forming.

Waiting for visibility, D fleet lined up.

US team gear, being drifted over

Packing to go back to the marina

Collision memories

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Missing blog, Feb 7

Six inches of fresh nsnow was too much. So the regatta packed up from the beautiful hotel in Balaton and moved to Rust and environs on Neusiedlersee, a lake on the Austrian/Hungarian border.

A bit hectic on check-out with 150 over-aggressive competitors waiting in line. But everyone was mostly patient. The new hotel recommended was open, but small, and a sister hotel in the next town was reopened for us. Rooms were cold! See the picture of Darek asleep in his ice outfit. Rooms come with half-board, meaning dinner and breakfast. Good food and a room full of competitors. Maybe 50 or 60. No internet, however, or pool, jacouzi or anything much except cold.

Stan, head of racing, decided against a four-fleet split and new starting positions, so with snow ice, just a bit rough, racing was scheduled to begin the next morning. (it did, see subsequent post)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 1 of racing

Finally a day of sailing. We are using a marina facility for the pits and parking, so the DN’s look a little strange in boat slips. After finding way from marina to lake, it’s a three mile trek down to start area in Hungary. The starts were in Hungary and the weather mark north in Austria. Some had time to exchange money on the course, but there was no kiosk. Qualifiers complete and a total of three gold, three silver and two bronze races done.

The course was limited by shore, cracks and obstacles to 1.5 km, or about 0.9 miles. The “C” (bronze) qualifier came off on time at 10 this morning. The committee measured the boats moving up to “B” (silver), so the mandatory delay lasted a few minutes longer. The B race started with a heavily favored right side. The 58 boat could do a short port tack to the weeds, and tack for the mark. The 40 and higher even boats were in lighter wind and required four or more tacks to make the weather mark due to the winds and narrowness of the lake. Mike Derusha finished 13th in the qualifier, and twelve boats move up. There was a big controversy about the measurements with one boat.

We have a runner rule and interpretation about the runners requiring a 1/8 inch minimum radius of the runner above ¾ inch away from the ice. The controversial boat had sharpened the front of his inserts back 3/8 inch from the leading edge for all the lead in up to the wood insert. I was not privy to the discussions, but I overheard discussions about the left and right radius being greater than 1/8 inch, but of course there was nearly a point where the left and right joined. A technical committee member was called in to the discussions, and whether or not Mike qualified-up hung in the balance. For reasons unknown, the boat was declared legal and advanced, and Mike started race two in the B fleet number one position.

US Gold: Ron Sherry, JR , Stange
Silver: Wendell, Dan Connell, Mike Derusha, me
Bronze: Hal, Bob Cummins

No excuses, but I started from 42 in the first race on the wrong side of the course.. I moved all the way up to 41. No excuses, because Ron started the first A race from a similar position and ended up 12 or 13 in the race. I think skill and acumen might have something to do with it.

Oke Luks, the builder of the most desired DNs in Europe, decided to have a go of it. He won the first A race and led for the first five roundings in race two. Ron found a bit of wind and managed to pass Oke down wind for a first in race two. Oke had a 1-2 finish in the first two races. Swedes and Poles with two Estonians dominated all three races. As soon as I get results, I’ll post them. Still internet problems here.

In race two, I got to study the “how do you see a starboard tack boat behind boats to leeward” lesson. Failed. A boat appeared in front of me on starboard very close a couple hundred yards after a leeward mark rounding. I was having a good race, too. I did a picture perfect rounding, (with my legs in the boat, Pete) and came out with clear air and well above the four or five boats in front of me. One tacked for clear air, a port tack boat ducked him. Anyway, I ducked without enough time and I believe he tried to duck, too, so we were head-to-head and made a loud noise. No one seriously hurt, but his ankles are sore and I am barely walking due to a pulled muscle in my calf. What is amazing is that both boats sailed in the third silver race later today, with duct tape repairs. There is something to say about fiberglass reinforced hulls.

My boat needed a new steering chock. The carbon steering rod was bent and damaged, but repaired by being stiffened with my spare heavy top batten and Wendell’s duct tape. (We had brought spare, now that rod is my cane) Race three and the trek home sailed with that setup, so it was fairly strong. My steering rod (carbon tube) was flexed by his plank or the trailing side of my runner. The fat end of the batten covered the weak spot. Lots of duct tape, thanks Wendell. His boat had a bit of glass torn off his side board by my bow plate/tank just at the leading edge of his plank. Both sealed with duct tape. My steering chock rod hit his plank a few inches from there. His plank was not ripped off and my steering bearings in the nose block survived intact.

My travel mate Adam P-235 is doing well, in 11th. Michael Burczynski P-114 is leading the regatta, Vaiko Voorema C-6 is second, Fredrick Loendgren S-8 or Oke Luks S-5 is in third and fourth. Robert Graczyk P-31 is sixth, Lucas Zakrzewski P-155 is 10th, Darek Kardas P-13 is in 15th. My polish traveling companions know more than I about the finish positions.

If it survives the posting, presuming the internet comes up, below is Ron’s start in race 1, on the unfavored side, and steering weird to miss goose poop.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ariving and setting up

February 5, 2010

Late arrival, early up.

After getting to the headquarters hotel, Hotel Flamingo, at 2 am, we woke at 8 eager to get on the ice. Most of the competitors are staying here, so morning included lots of hugs, hellos and smiles as we all met our ice friends again. The hotel is wonderful, and includes a health spa. In fact, the whole name is Flamingo Wellness Hotel.

Registration was well organized (oops, net time remember to convert money to Euros). The US team is Ron Sherry, Aaron Stange, J.R. Francis, Dan Connell, Hal Bowman, Bob Cumins, Wendell Sherry and Ken Smith. You’ll recognize us with red knit hats, which came with registration, and black jackets, which required more Euros. Both feature the host Swiss graphic, and no we are not paramedics.

After an excellent breakfast and registration, we headed to the ice. The launch area is a campground in other seasons, with a nice waterfront park/beach area. We were not first, but managed to get the trailer near the water’s edge. Unpacking and assembling boats was next. It was snowing and winds in the 15 mph range (7.5 meters per second).

Adam wanted to try and compare masts, so he set up to sail. Only a few boats were zipping about and visibility was only a half mile. Most of us looked at the 2 inch drifts and wind and pondered. The snow soon stopped, and I decided to wring out the new boat. Plate runners are the order of the day and likely the week.

About 30 boats practiced around a mile or so long course. One lap races were the norm as a rather large drift formed behind the leeward mark. There was a premium to finding clear lanes and accelerating up to speed after a gybe. The new boat is excellent and roomy and moving very fast.

The afternoon passed quickly, and the opening ceremony was held and well attended. Lots of countries represented since my first worlds. Some new, some just providing competators. I think there were seven countries present when I started competing, about 1985. US, Canada, Germany, Holland, Poland, Sweden, and Russia. The Baltic states divided themselves later by sail designator then politically, and many additional countries began participating. Thus year there are 15 nationalities on the ice. Wim Van Acker would have been proud.

Back to town for a dinner at an excellent local pub. Great local food and lots of pointing at menus as there was no common language we could find.

And more snow. We are hoping for enough wind and low drifts, but that is hope. The reality will be known tomorrow.

Morning update. Waking to the sound of snowplows at work is not a good sign.

Driving south to sail

Friday, February 5, 2010

The majority of regatta participants is enroute or has arrived. I am driving with two Polish friends, Adam Baranowski and Derek Kardas. Adam met me at Warsaw airport yesterday and we stayed at his house last night preparing boats and equipment. Darek prepared a hull and plank for me. I intend to sail a Sherry mast from Pete’s cache of stuff stored in Olsztyn. I brought key runners but added a few from Pete’s cache. I brought sails. These are wonderful hosts, and we could not escape a short visit with the Marcurs last night without tea and delicious cake with his family.

The boat I am to sail was assembled for the first time at 10 pm yesterday. Such simple boats with so few details you’d think everything would be smooth. But everyone has optimized details, and they all fit together if all is like the other boats and equipment. But there are differences between “normal” in Europe and in North America. Some of the differences require on-the-spot correction, better done in a shop than on the ice.

Runner “normal” in Europe fit chocks that are 26mm, just a bit more than NA normal of one inch, 25.4mm. Chock bolts are 10 mm, just a bit more than 3/8 inch. Some are 12 mm, which is what Bob Cummins is using, which is quite a bit more than 3/8 inch. This means US runners need to be drilled so the chock bolt will fit.

On the boom, the outhaul systems on US fit outside the sail track, either above or below it. Here the normal is to fit 1-D sails who have a different detail, slider car and cut-back bolt rope. When fitting the Polish normal outhaul system onto North/Boston or Quantum sails, the hardware has to be adapted to fit around a full length bolt rope. Or the sail has to adjusted by cutting away a bit of bolt rope under the clew.

And the hull fastens to the plank differently. Only a problem if fitting a European hull to a US plank. Plus normal preparation of runners, sorting and packing bags and boxes, tools and spares, ice clothes and other clothes.

We also had to finish the new hull. Foot braces, hull numbers, bobstay strut, rough-fit of wires, adjust halyard catch locations. All stuff done once over a few weekends of sailing normally, but done here prior to the auto-portion of the trip. Personally, a 10 pm departure, 9 hour flight, three hour drive and prep to midnight mad for a slightly long day. On the bright side, I am now time-zone adjusted.

This morning we made final runner fit and packed trailer and car for three competitors. No matter what breaks, we will finish the two planned regattas with enough equipment. This is a crazy sport! We have in/on the trailer and mini-van the following:

- five hulls
- 8 masts
- 8 sails
- We think we have 92 runners, more or less
- A generator
- Two “drill machines” (hand drills)
- A runner sharpening machine
- Spare tire for trailer
- Spare lights and fuses (needed one 25 miles out)
- Spare hardware and wires

We heard that Stan Macur, who left last night, needs a spare transmission. Unfortunately, we cannot help him.

Finally packed and ready, we hit the road about 11:30 this morning for the 1000 km trip. Did I mention that Poland has no freeways? ETA between 10 and midnight tonight, Poland-Czek Republic-Slovakia-Hungary.

The US team consists of Wendell Sherry, Bob Cummins, Mike Derusha and I from the Western Region, Ron Sherry and Aaron Stanger from the Central Region, Dan Connell and Hal Bowman from the Eastern Division. Bob Cummin’s daughter Annie is on the race committee. We have hosts helping from several countries, but I want to get that right before posting.

Morning update. February 6, 2010. We arrived today at 2AM to the hotel Flamingo and a dusting of snow. Today: set up and practice.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Prep and transport.
Pete Johns and I were supposed to be traveling together. I met Pete probably in 1985 or 1986. That is the first time I went to the Lake Geneva swap meet, the fall after I got my first DN. He was a wild sailor then, and I believe he had made his first trips to Poland before that time frame. That was after he’d had close encounters on the race course, sailed a North American Championship on the Chesapeake Bay, started many friends in the boat at Lake Decatur, and done more stuff in an iceboat than all but a very few. Pete’s traveled hundreds of thousands of miles and sailed ice wherever good ice and a few iceboaters have gathered. He was the DN secretary for a time, made the class happen and be strong, contributed to its growth.

Pete’s done a lot since, but still would argue about being called a sailor. He is an iceboater, not a sailor. A sailor knows his boat and equipment (his “program” as its called). A sailor knows how to adjust and tweek his boat to wring the most performance out of it. A sailor knows how to select choose which sail, hardware, what settings to have on the boat and who can provide the hardware and equipment that can make his boat the best. A sailor knows how to trim his sails and point his boat to best advantage, and Pete can do all that. A sailor knows his medium: the wind, the water, the influence of trees and bluffs, all the things that he (or she) has to use to propel his craft around the course faster than his competitors. Pete is an iceboater and says he can make the boat go around a diamond course, but not find wind shifts.

An ice boater’s medium is hard water. Not hard water like water with too many minerals, but frozen water. (That subject is a whole other chapter.) An iceboat like the DN class iceboat loves smooth, glassy black ice. I can be sailed in fairly rough ice and through fresh snow up to the depth that the plank and hull start dragging, if there is enough wind. When ice is on the surface, the water beneath is dangerously cold and is to be avoided. Holes and thin ice are bad.

Finding and having sailable ice for a major regatta is the big challenge. A big regatta requires at least a square mile, better several square miles, without heaves, holes, cracks or obstructions. Snow cover has to be very slight without drifts. Weather forecasts have to be good enough that an optimist can see the chance of completing a regatta. The uncertainty of the venue is part of the sport, why this will never be an Olympic sport, and why finding a site for a regatta when a continent is covered in snow is uncertain at best. This year, with a week to go, there was NO suitable venue in Europe known.

That uncertainty is why Pete is not traveling this trip, that and his loving wife Ann. At least one of the North American, European and World Championship regattas usually fall in mid-February. That is when Ann’s birthday falls. Also Valentine’s Day. Pete (as well of the rest of the DN ice fanatics) is almost always absent from home and family at this time. While I know he’ll have occasional regrets, he’ll have Ann and lots of great ice at home.

I packed a bag of four sails, a bag of ice clothes with three runners, a box of runners, a carry-on with clothes for a week and a briefcase of computer and work. At the last minute I was asked to carry back the silver fleet perpetual trophy as well. That’s a lot of stuff! (see picture. I was wearing my backpack at the time) I knew there would be a charge for the sails, but the charge was half what I expected. I expected a bag-charge for the trophy and it turns out that charge would be $180. Fortunately the nice lady at LOT Polish Airlines read the note about the contents wisely applied by Jim McDonough, last years winner. “Fragile, contains IDNIYRA Silver Fleet Gold Cup Trophy. She had me carry it to the gate as carry-on and gate check it for free. No, Jim, I am keeping the fee.

Departed Chicago at 10 PM and arrived at Warsaw at 2 PM the next day, Thursday. We pack the trailer and head for Lake Balaton, Hungary tomorrow morning. Perfect weather forecast and right now clear ice about six inches thick. A little precip when temps are predicted to be right at freezing, temperatures hover between a few degrees below freezing to a degree above through Wednesday next week. That good as this is the only suitable ice not buried in snow in all of Europe, we believe.

Look for pictures tomorrow of the packed gear for three racers, two in Gold and one in Silver or Bronze fleets. About 210 are pre registered. Also look for an update on the other American competitors.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February 2, 2010

Packing for the trek to the DN World Championship. The question is where will it end up?

What a crazy sport, iceboating and especially iceboat racing. You can do it anywhere. You just need at least three or four inches of ice, smooth ice. Oh, maybe a square mile or so. Also no snow or a bit of fresh snow. Too much snow and you are finished with that ice. No holes, or well marked holes, no heaves or humps, no cracks big enough to grab a runner, and few enough ice fishermen to leave open areas to sail free.

And wind. on very good ice 4 or 5 miles per hour of wind is enough. Rough ice or some snow or soft ice, and you need a bit more to really go. But not too much. Too much is scary and can really cause problems, like over speed slides, spinning out and getting tossed off the boat-known in the sport as an out-of-boat experience.

And temperatures not too warm or cold. Warm temperatures ruin the ice surface. Worse, they could turn it to slush or floating ice chunks. Too cold, and the participants become candidates for frostbite or hypothermia. 10 F is the practical lower limit, so dress for the day in layers! Bring hand-warmers and mittens.

And access to the ice. Someplace is needed where you can to set up, near a food source and a lodging source and hopefully a hot tub.

And four or a hundred of your friends. Sailing on ice in the cold is a fun thing, but more fun with much less risk if you have fellow sailors around keeping an eye on each other.

So when a major event, like the North American Championships or the World Championships come up, the location is in doubt until the racing starts. And even then , we're not positive about tomorrow. THis year, the host was to be Poland. Good cold winter made lots of ice. Then, snow fell. No bother, lakes free in Germany and Denmark, not too far. Then snow fell. Well, maybe teh Baltic off Denmark or Sweden. Then snow fell. Hmm. Where now? Maybe Hungary or Austria? I get on a plane tomorrow to Warsaw. My Polish friends will Adam and Darek will meet the plane, load my gear with the boat they prepared for me, and we head south? Destion TBD.