2005 NA's :: Ice Safari report

Ice Safari
Elk Lake, Mi
Feb 11th, 2005

Mackinac bridge at sunriseIt's our second trip to northern Michigan in 5 days. First was the Central Region and then in the same place the next weekend it was the North American Championship. Next year it would be nice to go on a month long ice safari.. none of that pesky four days of work between iceboating and driving.

The 2005 North Americans was a great regatta. We had great ice and wind all weekend. And friday was a great day as well.

Neil looks out on the Straights of MackinacWe left minneapolis on thursday night at 8:30pm. Since this was the second time we drove to michigian, and we didn't have a dog with us, (he was with us when we went to the Centrals the previous weekend) we managed to shave some time off and got to sunny's cafe (torch lake, mi) at 7:10am for their tasty omelets.

On the way over in the U.P the deers were out in force. I was driving when a mother and her fawn crossed in front of us. The mother was in one lane and the fawn in the other and there was only about five feet between them.. I ended up going for the fawn and then at the last instant I shot between the two and it seemed like maybe the van made it through, but the trailer couldn't have... but we lucked out and completely missed them. After that I saw 5 more deer and 2 dead deer and one in the middle of the road that I had to stradle... the road is pretty tough on the deer up there.. So we really lucked out. We could have hit the deer and ruined our weekend by screwing up our ride.

After breakfest we drove the short distance down to White Birch Lodge on Elk Lake, Mi and checked into our room that overlooked the launch area. It was iceboating heaven. We setup our boats right in front of our room's window.

We went for a sail on friday morning. There were about a dozen boats out on a gorgous day. The ice had a light coating of snow on it and the wind was a perfect 9 knts. We sailed many 1 lap races and the gang was still out sailing after I went in to get my other runners.. and decided to pass out from not sleeping on the way over. Later I woke up and took my sail down and discovered I had bent my king pin way back. I must have hit that ice ridge on the way back in a bit hard.

Gold Fleet at the 2005 NAs Saturday we woke up and looked out the window at the launch area. We had a perfect 9-11kts wind and sunny skies. The course was around 0.8 miles and there were only a few crack hazards in the race course. The ice was hard and I used my skinny inserts for both days. There was a slight pebbly service on the ice. Over the course of the two days we had good wind. It was as low as 7kts and as high as 11kts. There were some shifts on both days that could make or break your race. We got in ten races (five for the gold and five for the silver). Moral was very high on saturday evening. We all had had an awesome day out racing. It was the perfect day with just enough pressure you could get really rolling and have an nice runner lift around the top mark. Our western team did really well too... it was the first time that everybody in our group was getting up to speed and having some good races.. us4923 got an eighth, I got a thirteenth.. so we were feeling like we were starting to get the hang of it.

On the way in our stable mate, us4923 must have ran over a wrench or something and completely hosed his port minimum insert runner. I've never quite seen a runner so screwed up. It makes a strong case to using some scrub runners to get to and fro the race course. We didn't have the grinder so after many hours with the sharpening stones the runner was smooth, but it really didn't have a good sharp edge. He ended up on his max inserts for sunday because the first race was blowing pretting good and the edge was pretty questionable on the repaired runner.

On Sunday we had a pretty fresh breeze blowing over 12kts for the first race. Me and a few others had the boat setup too stiff and it was a handful, but really fast once you got it under you. We easily got in the four races (two per fleet) to finish up the 7 race, 2 day regatta.

Matt Sruble and the NA trophy Matt Strubal (us183) was smoking fast and was deserving of the Win. I think he won five or six out of the seven races. He is a rising star and has really got his boat going fast. And so my travelling mates, JD (us4691) got a third, John Loomis (us4923) got 24th and I (us5214) finished 22nd. Here's a fun racing story.... I finished even points with Randy Rogoski (us4192) and he got me on the last race by a half a boat length. It was a pretty good dule from the windward beat, up and around the pin and all the way down we were door handle to door handle. It turns out that if I would have gotten him I would have placed above him in the final standings, but he got me.. and somehow I think he knew how it was going to work out right after the race, before they talied the points. It was great fun iceboat racing and it was like that for everyone, you could round with the same group of boats and the fact that there are so many passing lanes makes it so fun and challenging to be the first across the finish.

Next week.. the northwest in madison?

ps.. thanks to GeoffS for posting the pictures..