Thieler wins DN North Americans
Published on January 25th, 2020
James Thieler won the 2020 DN North American Championships held January 22-25 on Fort Peck Lake in Fort Peck, Montana. With a struggle to find suitable ice, 61 sailors made the long trek west to face bitterly cold temperatures, bumpy surface, and extraordinary scenery.
Day one saw good breeze and soft ice with patches of snow. Resisting the urge to sheet in too hard and point too high upwind paid dividends and using 95 or 100 degree runners and a full sail seemed to work for the top sailors. Aggressively steering around the snow patches and working the mainsheet in the puffs was essential. It made for exciting sailing and a great workout!
At the end of the day in Gold Fleet Chad Atkins was in the lead with Thieler in second and Ron Sherry in third. Only the Gold Qualifier race was run on day one for the Silver fleet so there was everything to play for on the next race day…
Warren Nethercoate of Halifax NS won the Gold qualifier with Rhode Island rookie Karen Binder hot on his heels in second.
Two days of no wind tested the fleet’s patience and nerves before the breeze finally filled in on day four. Low temperatures had solidified the snow drifts and made for wild, rodeo style sailing.
Avoiding the big bumps and rough ice was key, almost as important as staying in the boat and keeping the boat in one piece. Thieler took the first race and Ron Sherry took the second before the committee abandoned racing as the wind built to unsafe speeds.
Final Results (Top 10 of 61)
Source: New England Ice Yacht Association