In Search of the Perfect Storm

Published on January 7th, 2018

Back in 2004, Scuttlebutt detailed the best racing venues in the USA, and when they were at their best. With few exceptions, every region has an ideal time of year for sailing. This is when the wind is reliable and the temperature is, at a minimum, tolerable. But what about the iceboaters? Their situation is way more complicated.

While ‘soft water’ sailors may complain about difficult wave patterns, or weeds catching on the keel, the iceboaters need nearly an act of god for their playing surface to be suitable for sailing. Deb Whitehorse, the Secretary for the DN North America class, keeps members apprised of where the good ice is. For if you are an eager iceboater, no good ice is too far.
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Here is Deb’s latest report:

Like Charlie Brown waiting for the Great Pumpkin, iceboaters wait for the Great Zamboni, a rainy weather system that makes the snow disappear off the ice followed by cold that freezes the track. Keep your eyes on Thursday’s weather system because there’s a possibility that Wisconsin could have an abundance of sailable ice.

From NOAA’s Forecast Discussion for southern Wisconsin:
“The models do show low pressure sliding northeast across Wisconsin either later Wednesday night or Thursday (Jan. 10-11). The GFS is quicker and further south with the low track than the ECMWF. Both models do bring the warm sector into at least southeast Wisconsin during this period.

“Thus, it looks like good chances for mainly rain later Wednesday night into Thursday morning, before cold air advection brings a transition to light snow southeast across the area Thursday afternoon into the evening.

“This may change, depending on where the low tracks, and would affect the precipitation types as well. This may have some impact on travel in northern and western Wisconsin, and perhaps here if the low track shifts to the south. Cold air advection behind the low would then bring colder temperatures back into the region for Friday into Saturday.”
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The DN class, which is the most popular iceboat in the world, has its 2018 DN North American Championship scheduled on January 21-27, with racing to be held in a region defined by the eastern seaboard, mountain lakes, and Canada. With cars gassed up, an announcement on January 18 directs competitors to the primary site for racing. Fingers crossed that somewhere there will be sailable ice.

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