Nite Nationals: All Good in the Hood

Published on February 9th, 2016

Ice boat racing is about flexibility. When the Notice of Race says the event dates are TBD, and the location could be anywhere within three states, you know Mother Nature is in charge. But sometimes it works out as it did last weekend for the one design Nice class. Here is the report…

This winter has been like few others. Lots of regatta postponements, very late ice, huge snow storm after snow storm piling in, and also a very warm December. It has made many iceboaters anxious in the Midwest. But as is the nature of the sport, one has to gather a good supporting cast and go find the ice, checking the weather and be bold enough to roll the dice.

The decision to hold the 2016 Nite National Championship (Feb 6-7) on Pewaukee Lake proved ideal. To quote a famous local Pewaukee iceboater Peter Harken, who came to spectate with his family, “This is about the best ice we have seen in quite a while on Pewaukee.” And it was great ice, even offering drive-on conditions, and of course it’s close proximity to Pewaukeee Yacht Club, with its warm bar with great seating and viewing, brought out all the local sailors as well.

The Nite class is enjoying an upswing, with huge growth seen at the 2015 Nationals exceeded by the 39 boats that came to Pewaukee. In a down season for ice, this is a huge accomplishment. Additionally, the fleet has grown considerably younger the last few years while yet still attracting older iceboaters looking for easier programs – both physically and on the pocketbook. It doesn’t take much to get real competitive in a Nite program, either at a new or used level.

This year’s National Championship was the first time ever that the sailors had an option of a Silver fleet. What this did was tighten up the racing on the course, helping to group boats with similar speeds and abilities. The split fleets drew in close to ten first-time regatta sailors, with one sailor just getting his first boat the weekend before. But despite the lesser experience, the competitive vibe remained strong.

In iceboating you generally never really get all your races in at the big events, but both fleets got in all eight scheduled races. In fact, the two fleet system worked flawless and may have sped the whole regatta along.

Hard clear ice and 10-15 mph winds on day one was fast and fun, with boats finishing three lap courses in under 17 minutes. That is pretty quick. The second day saw bright blue sunny skies with a diminishing wind, which brought out more spectators but made for challenging conditions as the wind fluctuated and the ice softened.

The 2016 Silver fleet champion was Dick Grota, a longtime Nite sailor who decided he liked the pace of the 17-boat fleet. But as fast as Dick Grota was on the race course, the final race saw Maureen Bohleber, the only female iceboater sailing in this year’s event, pass him in the final two hundred yards to win the race. With cheering masses, she powered to the finish sailing hot and fast.

In the Gold fleet, the 22 boats were not only some of the best iceboaters but also some of the best ILYA scow sailors with lots of champions. After day one, it was for all intents and purposes a two-boat horse race between Will Perrigo and last year’s champion Scott Brown. It lived up to its billing and the regatta was decided on the final race with Brown winning his third Nite National Championship.

Class websiteFull results

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Final race winner Maureen Bohleber (gold jacket) surrounded by Gold fleet champion Scott Brown, runner up in Gold fleet Will Perrigo, and Silver fleet champion Dick Grota.

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Maureen Bohleber winning the final race.

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Nite sailor coming downwind.

Source: John Hayashi, Class Secretary.

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