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An old-time hockey-style bloodbath

Published on January 5th, 2020

When it comes to sailing, no amount of planning can trump the power of Mother Nature. However, while soft water events can typically overcome her hurdles, the hard water events are more hamstrung.

Quality ice is an elusive surface, prompting an event’s Notice of Race to vaguely specify the venue as somewhere cold. In iceboating, when the scouts find good ice, no party is too far.

While the Great Western Challenge iceboat regatta in December is the unofficial hard-water kick-off, it is the 2020 Western Region Championship on January 4-5 that offers the first real test of the season.

With a search on for the best ice in the Western Region (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, or Iowa), the scouts found 6-7 inches of “of orange peel texture” on Lake Puckaway, about an hour north of Madison, WI.

Sixty-six competitors completed eight races… here’s the final day report from the New England Ice Yacht Association:

“Three races today in good breeze saw tight racing at high speeds – the stuff that keeps us all coming back! Nothing like flying down the run skate to skate with the next boat over at 50mph… can’t find that in the summer – that’s for sure.

“The battle for first was between Ron Sherry and Matt Struble – amazing to watch these two World Champions push each other around the course, with Struble able to hold Sherry off for the win.

“Close behind, the battle for third was between Chris Berger and James Thieler, and after two very tight races it came down to whoever beat who in the last race.

“It was an old-time hockey-style bloodbath of a race with high speeds, lead changes, and nothing left on the football field (tired of the mixed metaphors yet?), Thieler was ahead at the finish and goes home with the bronze.”


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