Matt Struble wins DN North Americans

Published on February 26th, 2016

Seventy-six competitors hit the ice for the 2016 DN North American Championship held February 22-26 at Lake Monona in Madison, WI. Dominating he 10-race series was Matt Struble, followed by Ron Sherry and James Thieler.

Click here for complete results.

Report by James Thieler:
First of all the place was great- Lake Monona in Madison, WI. Racing with downtown Madison as a backdrop is pretty cool- and a far cry from the scenery we are used to out this way! Madison is an iceboating town and they didn’t disappoint. The ice was good and the launch area only deteriorated enough to keep things interesting….

We had sailors (about 90) from all over the place- a quick look at the roster shows people from MI, OH, WI, FL, NC, MN, IL, IN, ON, NS, NY (upstate and LI), NJ, PA, RI, and probably one or two I missed. From Europe we had skippers from Germany, Holland, Sweden and Poland. Not bad! Eastern sailors practically infested both fleets-about fifteen or so in all, including a few rookies. And of course the event was won by a guy from that hotbed of DN activity, San Diego CA. We spanned the continent!

The weather cooperated although we all had our doubts for awhile- a day or two of hurry-up-and-wait was endured as we waited for breeze. Our hosts eased the pain by hosting a few barbecues, both at the launch and out on the ice! This was awesome. Oddly there were no brats (that’s short for bratwurst, by the way) but plenty of pulled pork, spicy rice, cookies, and high-test Mountain Dew all on the menu for the health-conscious types. Atkins drank four. He has sugar issues. Somebody please talk with him.

Good news is that with the five-day-format (race Monday through Friday, max 14 per fleet total) we had plenty of time to make up for the lost racing days- when the breeze showed up it was too much of a good thing and we were blown off the ice for a day (silver lining was an ultra-cool tour of the Harken plant that afternoon). Weather settled a bit and in the end we got ten races in for both fleets over a range of wind conditions. Absolutely worth the price of admission! To win this one you had to be good in everything from out-of-control high winds to light and shifty, barely sail-able stuff.

This format was introduced a few years back and has met with good reviews- 5 days is usually plenty of time to get a regatta done and it’s nice to have a weekend on either end for travelling. Don’t have to miss a Friday or Monday at the office either….

We used a new course format as well- the “safety zone” (aka “run out zone”) has been eliminated. The start line stays put and while one fleet is on the course the next fleet lines up. Once the last boat in one fleet finishes the next fleet goes off as soon as the scorers are ready, usually pretty quickly. This allows the RC to bang out races rapidly! Way less work for the RC and way less time wasted disconnecting and reconnecting the line. Also safer as there were frequently boats and innocent pedestrians in the safety/run-out zone. The finish line is now parallel to the breeze rather than perpendicular- you finish by leaving the leeward mark to port (checkered flag is near the 1/3 starting spot) and bleed off speed heading toward the right side of the course. Safer for the scorers and nice to be able to head up into the wind to slow down- couldn’t do that with the old safety zone as you had to sail straight downwind, only way to lose speed was by dragging your feet which doesn’t really slow you down but does ruin your spikes and is a great way to bang your Achilles tendon into the plank or even break your ankle. Just saying….

So all in all we had some boredom, some terror, a few bumps and bruises, some gear that survived, some that didn’t, but ultimately a lot of laughs and whooping and hollering. Believe me when I say we will be talking about this one for a long time. Great to see everyone from everywhere. Worth the drive and entry fee? HELL YES. Put it on your calendar.

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