Harken Derm

Maybe this was meant to be

Published on April 16th, 2019

Michal Burczyński

When we reported on the 2019 DN World Championship, it was a remarkable story for winner Michal Burczyński to have overcome so much to achieve victory. Now two months later, we are still shaking our head. Here Michal provides his account:


This year’s DN Iceboat World Championships will remain in my memory for a very long time. I won the regatta using borrowed equipment. It’s unbelievable! The only part of the gear that was mine was a set of three sails from Ullman Sails (Fo1, Abss, Ms1).

This was my tenth time in the Gold Cup in the USA. The trails were blazed and everything was supposed to go as planned. But then a series of unfortunate events occurred that severely affected my starting plans. The whole thing seemed improbable.

We (the Polish team) had a few days head start in sending our iceboats to the USA, in case of any unforeseen problems. And that’s what happened as our equipment got held up at the Paris airport.

Our appeals to the shipping company went unheard, and just when things were looking up, our bad luck continued. The plane which was supposed to bring our gear three days before the start of the Championships, failed to take off because of a malfunction.

We were very nervous. Further calls to the shipping company yielded no results. I gave up and just accepted that my iceboat would not arrive on time. All that was left was to just treat my stay as an opportunity to catch up with other iceboaters and a tourist trip. I tried to borrow an iceboat, just to appear at the starting line and finish the races.

I got in touch with Daniel Hearn from Madison (WI) who had a few sets of gear, one of them top-shelf, and he offered me this one. It was an amazing and incredibly touching gesture. It’s hard for me to describe my emotions at that point, but suffice to say that I had tears in my eyes.

I wasn’t sure I could even accept such a generous offer. In doing this, Daniel Hearn had effectively withdrawn from his race for the title, to allow me to start in the elite ranks. Thank you so much, Daniel! Fate had smiled upon me, and I still had a fighting chance in the 2019 DN World Championship.

Michal Burczyński (right) with Daniel Hearn

Additionally, it turned out that Daniel and I use gear with similar parameters (Peter Hamrak plank and mast), which is very important in such a technical sailing discipline. The gear was almost perfectly tailored to my needs.

The only piece of equipment that was mine was the set of brand-new Ulmann Sails, delivered to me by Ron Sherry right before the race. Thank you Mike Boston of Ullman Sails Detroit for building these for me. Fortunately, they are a tried and tested element of the equipment, which I have known for many years and am familiar with.

Following those emotional stressful few days before the regatta, I have appeared at the starting line full of determination and joy that I had made it, with the help of my great friends. My goal was to place in the top ten. I knew that winning a class as technical as DN on a borrowed iceboat was nearly impossible.

When the first race started and I rounded the first mark in third position, I knew I had good speed. I won this race, and the next one, and the next. It was like a dream. I won the whole regatta with a great point advantage, winning 4 out of 6 races.

This is my third DN World title and my most memorable one. It’s also been 40 years since my dad won the DN Gold Cup in the USA, in 1979. Maybe this was meant to be!

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