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DN North American Championships, Green Bay, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Feb 25-March 3, 2012

1 US44 SHERRY, RON 1 1 3 5.00
2 US4691 DENNIS, JOHN 3 2 1 6.00
3 US183 STRUBLE, MATT 2 4 2 8.00
US5224 THIELER, JAMES 8 6 4 18.00
5 G737 BOHN, JORG 4 3 13 20.00

1 US4055 STRUBLE, BOB (M) 3 1 1 5.00
2 US4249 KAISER, RICHARD (M) 1 3 6 10.00
3 US4291 KALLMAN, RICK 2 4 5 11.00
4 US1277 BOWMAN, HAL (GM) 5 5 2 12.00
5 US5435 KJOLLER, JODY 6 7 4 17.00


By Ron Sherry DN US44
Mother Nature has been showing her sense of humor this season. She tested our patience at this year’s North Americans again. When we picked up Joerg Bohn G737, Jost Kolb G936, and Dideric Van Reimsdijk H467 from the airport on Tuesday, we thought we were going to Lake Champlain in Vermont. Joerg was making early predictions of Green Bay and I hate it when he is right.

The Eastern fleet had been sailing Lake Champlain’s great ice for two weeks straight but a late arriving storm forced IDNIYRA Commodore Danny Connell and the Executive Committee to keep their eyes on several sites. The decision was made to postpone the start one day to let the storm finish its dirty work. After the storm they decided to go to Green Bay, Wisconsin. It is nice to live in Detroit because we are in the middle, 12 hours to Lake Champlain, and 10 hours to Green Bay.

We gathered our local sailors and guests at Bayview Yacht Club for dinner on Thursday night and at Lebeau’s on Friday night. We loaded up and drove to Green Bay on Saturday morning.

Dan Clapp's Skeeter

The Northwest regatta was being held on Green Bay. The regatta features DNs, Skeeters, Renegades, and Stern Steerers. The timing was great because it gave our European guests the opportunity to see the big boats. When we arrived on Saturday evening, the Northwest Regatta was having their banquet and Jay Yaeso, who sails a Skeeter, invited all of us to join the party. It was great to see the pictures and hear the stories of the two terrific days of racing they had enjoyed. The Northwest regatta was due to conclude on Sunday which would give all of us a chance to see the big boats race.

Erik & Chip Sawyer's Class A Stern Steerer, Michigander

When we arrived on the ice Sunday morning things looked great but unfortunately the wind quickly built to over 30 kts. and the regatta was called complete. The DN winners were John Dennis US4691 first, Steve Orlebeke US4926 second, John Davenport US4961 third, Mike Bloom US5432 fourth, and Jim McDonagh US5214 fifth.

The Europeans really enjoyed getting to see the big boats sail and taking pictures. The wind continued to blow hard all day Sunday so there was no practicing to be had. As a matter of fact, the wind blew so hard that it spun John Dennis’ trailer around on its ice screw into Jim McDonagh’s van.

Monday morning when we arrived at the ice, the wind was still blowing hard. At about 2:00 the wind calmed down enough to run the Silver mini qualifier. The mini qualifier was a great battle; Leon Lebeau US2000 passed Dick Wollam US4882 on the third lap to win the race. This was an important race because all of our team moved up into the Gold fleet including Bryan Brieden, Paul Goodwin US46, Jan Gougeon US1183, Dick Wollam, Danny Connell US1630, Dideric Van Reimsdijk, Leon Lebeau, Mike Bloom, and Jost Kolb.

My first decision was to choose for the regatta whether to use the boat I had trained with all year or put the blue boat on the ice. It was a tough decision because of the success I had with the training boat this season but I decided to go with the blue boat because I won the Worlds with it last year. This meant that I needed to make small adjustments to the head stay to get the boat the same as my training boat. I tightened the head stay a little more than normal because of the high winds and clean ice.

Going out I decided to take 2 sets of 3/16 inch runners with wings, one set of ¼ inch with wings, and one set of 3/16 without wings 100 degree. I went out to the course with my travel runners on. We didn’t have much time before our first race so I decided to try a few laps with my ¼ inch with wings and my MS1 sail. I thought the boat felt good but a little too bendy so I tightened the head stay three quarters of a turn. As we watched the Silver mini qualifier the wind was getting lighter. I decided to switch to my ABSS sail. When I checked my ¼ inch runners, I noticed that one of my side runners had such a big nick that it could not be fixed without a machine. This meant switching to my 3/16 inch runners with wings. Going through my head were thoughts that the lighter weight runners combined with the shorter head stay might have the boat set up too stiff but there was no time to change.

PRO Eric Lind ready to start the racing.

When I sailed the first race the boat tune was awesome. I started the first race in the 19th position and got a great start. The only boat that was close was Leon Lebeau who started to leeward of me and closed the gap. When I tacked over and headed to the first weather mark there were no threats from the left side. I won the first race with Matt Struble US183 second, John Dennis third, and Joerg Bohn fourth.

The second Silver race was sailed and the big winner was Bob Struble US4055. I checked my runners and both the front and one side runners had nicks that needed to be removed. I took the runners off one at a time, put them in a portable work mate, and stoned the nicks away.

I started the second race in the first position. There seemed to be a battle between the boats to leeward of me but I escaped all that and got up to speed quickly. With no threats coming from the left side I won the second race, John Dennis second, Joerg Bohn third and Matt Struble fourth.

The third silver race was won convincingly by Bob Struble. In between races I checked my runners and this time they were fine.

I started the third Gold fleet in the first position. I did not do a good job of getting the boat up to speed. By this time the sun was starting to set and it was hard to see the weather mark. I ended up way over standing the weather mark. When I came into the weather mark JD was first, Matt second, James “T” Thieler US5224 third, and Mike Derusha US2545 fourth. I rounded the first mark in fifth place and rolled over Mike on the way down wind. I watched the leaders jibe and thought they went too early. I went a little farther and over stood again. I rounded the first leeward mark in fifth again.

Photo Credit:
Catherine Firmbach
. Website

I worked hard to do a really good leeward rounding so I could get up inside of Mike and T. It worked and I rolled by Mike and T on port tack. It turned out that JD overstood allowing Matt to pass him too. Matt and JD had a great battle going on and were slipping away as I worked to get by T and Mike. On the third up wind leg I got well inside of Matt and JD. When they tacked to go to the weather mark, I tacked to leeward and in front of them. I got within 5 boat lengths at the last weather mark but it was not close enough. I tried jibing early down wind and Matt jibed about half way down but it didn’t work. JD won the third race, Matt second, me third, and T forth. The races were done for the day so we changed to our travel runners and headed in.

We loaded up the van including the runners we used and headed back to the hotel. When we got back, I went and took a quick Jacuzzi. I had a nice debrief with the sailors from Geneva and Chicago who joined me. We didn’t have a lot of time so we cleaned up and went to the banquet. The annual argument followed. I went back to my room to get my glasses, laid down for a moment, and that was all it took. I woke up when Danny Connell was at the door asking me where I was. The timing was good because I had lots of runner work to do. I determined that my ¼ inch runners were a lost cause, so I spent my time working on my 3/16 inch runners with wings bringing them back the best I could. I was entertained by watching the Daytona 500 while stoning.

Tuesday morning we went to the ice and the wind was lighter. I loaded up my boat with my FO1 and ABSS sails, two sets of 3/16 inch with wings, 3/16 inch no wings 100 degree, and 100 degree minimum T runners. Danny Connell and I were the first boats out to the leeward mark. The mark was set too close to a growing crack and Danny and I had to work hard to keep people from sailing into open water. We moved the mark to a safe distance from the crack. The starting line was set and I went for a practice sail with my travel runners. There was plenty of wind and I was flying a runner at will. I left the tune the same and used the same runners. I switched to the FO1, and raised the sail one half of an inch. They called us to the line just as the wind started to die.

I started in the third position. Steve Orlebeke, who started in the seventh position, had a little better speed and height. We battled our way over to the right side of the race course. I remember T closely crossing me on port tack. Steve rounded the first weather mark in first and I was in second. The wind got lighter and lighter. At the last weather mark Steve had to do a double tack while I came with a head of steam (so to speak). I rounded the mark and coasted down inside of Steve. I looked back and Steve had jibed. I sat up in the boat and saw that Matt, who had worked his way back to third, had jibed too. I decided this was no time to reinvent the wheel and jibed to cover. The wind got really light and shifty. Steve and I played the middle of the last downwind leg to find any wind at all. It ended up being a track meet between Steve and I which I won by less than one boat length. It was at this point, after we finished, that we noticed the black flag was up. We missed the time limit by 3 minutes 14 seconds.

The race committee lined up the Silver fleet, but the wind was light and started to shift to the left. The race committee reset the starting line and waited trying to run another race. Bill Coberly US472 noticed a new wet crack forming at the leeward mark. When Mike Derusha was asked to inspect the crack, it was decided with the current wind direction that we were pushing our luck and the regatta was called complete.

We changed to our travel runners and sailed in. We packed up our trailers and headed back to the hotel for awards in the lobby. Debbie Whitehorse brought out a bottle of Michigan cherry juice which Chip Sawyer, who owns the Stern Steerer Michigander, donated to her to help the DN sailors celebrate their regatta. We shared it with all participants who were willing to give the potent concoction a try.

Mother Nature tried hard to keep us from getting the regatta in but in the end, good and timely decisions by Danny Connell got the job done. Many thanks go to Danny for his years of service to the class. It was a really good time traveling with Joerg, Jost, Dideric, Leon, my sister Loretta, and Debbie. A special thanks to Eric Lind for coming in last minute to do a great job of running our regatta. Thanks to our scorers Loretta, Debbie, and Mercedes. Thanks to Daniel Hearn for bringing our only ATV.

See you at the Fun Regatta or at the Western Challenge Cup in December.

Remember - Err On The Side Of Speed and Fast is Fun.

Equipment Used

Awards Ceremony

Not pictured, US60 John Harper, 8th Gold.