Ron Sherry wins DN North Americans

Published on January 26th, 2018

Iceboat racers complain that race starters hold the flag up much too long before dropping it to signal the start. Those few seconds feel like an eternity to the racer in a sprinter’s crouch, tense, holding boats that beg for release to fly with the wind.

But patience is part of iceboating, and it was hugely tested for the 2018 DN North American Championship when a five day wait was needed to find a suitable site for the competition.

After a tricky delay-causing weather system rolled through North America, it was Lake Charlevoix in Petoskey, Michigan that finally presented a prime sheet of thick, hard ice. Eighty-three competitors from seven countries made their way to northern Michigan as fast as they could once DN Central Rear Commodore Bill Cutting of Traverse, City, Michigan gave his scouting report to the regatta organizers on January 23.

The first day of racing began on January 25 but patience was tested once again as the start was postponed in the wait for wind to arrive. DN Bylaws require that no race start 45 minutes before sundown and the regatta chair, Eastern Region Commodore Chad Atkins of Jamestown, RI, resolved to keep everyone out on the course until the last possible minute.

His continued patience paid off when the wind arrived and the flag dropped for the Silver fleet qualifier race at 3:36 PM. With two fleets in the regatta, a Gold and Silver based on the sailor’s international ranking, the Silver qualifier race enabled the top 12 finishers to move up to compete in the Gold fleet races which began on Friday, January 26.

On Friday, the race committee efficiently executed 5 races for each fleet in sunny and relatively warm conditions which softened the ice as the day went on. The breeze was light to steady, the competition was fierce, and there were 4 different winners in the Gold fleet and 5 different winners in the Silver fleet.

As DN Bylaws state that the North American Championship begins on a Monday and ends on a Friday, with Saturday as a reserve day to be used only if three races in all fleets had not been completed by Friday, the title was confirmed after one day of racing.

Defending Gold fleet champion, Ron Sherry of Harrison Township, MI, edged out Minnetonka, MN sailor, John Dennis, by one point to win a record 13th national championship.

Steve Madden of Plymouth, MA took top honors in the Silver fleet by only 2 points over Don Brush of Leicester, VT.

Christian Seegers of Hamburg, Germany was the top finishing European competitor in 11th. 2017 Silver fleet champion Griffin Sherry (Ron Sherry’s son), Harrison Township, MI, was the highest placing youth sailor with a 13 in the Gold fleet.

The agonizing days when the entrants had no idea if they’d be in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Canada, or New Hampshire were all forgotten proving that for winter’s sailing warriors, even just one day of racing makes it all worth waiting for.

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Source: Deb Whitehorse

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