Patience needed for iceboat racing

Published on January 23rd, 2018

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, the plan was for an announcement on January 18 to direct competitors to the primary site for racing to begin January 22. But someone failed to give Mother Nature the memo, as finding sailable ice this winter has not come easy.

The communication lifeline to the 57 entrants is the remarkable class secretary Deb Whitehorse, with her frequent email updates keeping everyone in the loop. Here’s a sampling:

January 16: We will hope to make the final call for the 2018 NA’s this Thursday (Jan 18) at 9 PM EST. As usual the weather is unsettled, and a snowstorm has just or is about to affect many of the potential locations. We simply have to let it pass before we can make a good decision. Currently we are looking at multiple sites, as far east as Sebago Lake in ME, as far west as Michigan, and at locations in Canada.

January 18: The regatta site decision has been postponed for 24 hours because of unsettled weather conditions in all regions. Next update Friday, January 19 by 10 PM EST.

January 19: The organizing committee has postponed the selection of the regatta site until 4:30 PM EST, Saturday, January 20, 2018. Our primary site locations at this point are the greater Lake St. Clair region near Detroit, Michigan and the greater Madison, Wisconsin area.

We have two days of warm weather at both locations with a precipitation event on Monday (Jan 22) for both locations. Changing ice surface conditions as the weather pattern moves through these areas is causing the delay.

There is a probability that after the weather pattern passes through there could be shell ice, drain holes, and shoreline erosion at either location. Drifts at both locations may not perfectly flatten out after the weather event. Next update by 4:30 PM EST Saturday, January 20, 2018.

January 20: The organizing committee has postponed the selection of the regatta site until 7:30 PM EST, Sunday, January 21, 2018. At this point, we have possible sailable venues on Lake Charlevoix in Michigan and Senachwine Lake in Illinois.

Weather issues for Lake Charlevoix include chances of mixed precipitation and lake effect snow on Monday through Tuesday. Weather issues for Senachwine Lake include a long stretch of warm temperatures with two days into the 50s forecast during the race week.

Other locations that are not regatta quality but are still under consideration with the current weather pattern include Kingston, Ontario in Canada, Lake Sebago, Maine, Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, Lake St. Clair. Michigan, Houghton Lake, Michigan, and the greater Madison region in Wisconsin. Next update by 7:30 PM EST Sunday, January 21, 2018.

January 21: The regatta organizing committee has postponed the site decision. We are dealing with some uncertainty as to how the precipitation and following cold temperatures will affect the sites under consideration. The positives right now are that we have our assets positioned in key areas to help us scout ice.

Sites under consideration are Lake Winnebago at Fond du Lac, WI; Madison, WI; Lake Charlevoix, Michigan; and Lake St. Clair, Michigan. If none of these venues prove sailable after the storm, Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire remains an option.

We are confident that we will get this regatta in. We are hoping to make the final decision by 1 PM EST Tuesday (Jan 23), with registration and opening ceremonies on Wednesday evening January 24th, and first races TBD on Thursday morning. Next update Tuesday, January 23 by 1 PM EST.

January 22: All the pieces are in place tonight for DN Dawn Patrol tomorrow. Sailors are ready to sail and inspect ice with the intent of announcing the site for 2018 DN North American Championship. We will make a decision by 1 PM EST tomorrow, with registration and opening ceremonies on Wednesday evening January 24th, and first races TBD on Thursday morning. Next update Tuesday, January 23 by 1 PM EST.

January 23: The 2018 DN North American Championship Regatta has been called on for Lake Charlevoix in Michigan. Racing begins Thursday, Jan 25.

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