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Ron in Russia-Baikal Pearl Cup

April 8-12, 2013
DN Regatta on Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia

Lake Baikal in a larger map


Asia Cup
Ice Optimists
Baikal Cup
Ice Optimists

Russian Media:
"Lake Baikal hosted international competitions in ice sailing." Click here to continue reading.

DN Worlds to Baikal in 2016?
"Vladimir Silkin visited regatta in the class DN ice yacht on Lake Baikal Continue reading.


Evgeny Ryazhev: Promotional Video

First Go Pro Video:
Ron Sails the Asia Cup

Nikolay Ustyuzhin:
2013 DN Cup of Baikal

Evgeny Ryazhev
Margreet Bosker

Check out this split screen video of the third race on Lake Baikal in Siberia from April 2013

See what's in Ron's head and how he works the boat during a race. Click here to see full screen.

Ron in Russia: The Story

It's Ron!

April 3: The Journey To Baikal

Ron & Natalia Kills
During the 10 hour flight from New York to Moscow I was concerned about reclining my seat into the person behind me who turned out to be Natalia Kills, a really nice pop singer born in England, living in New York, and traveling to Moscow where her song is number one on the charts. I Googled her and watched several videos which are truly amazing. Three of her hot songs are “Free it William”, “Controversy”, and “Mirrors”. I believe at some point, she’ll have a number one hit in the United States as well. She shared her contact information with me and I’m hoping to get her permission to use her songs with some of my Go Pro videos from Lake Baikal.

Flying over Norway

From the window seat, I took lots of pictures of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty (for Danny Connell DN US 1630 who works in Manhattan but has never visited the statue!), the mountain ranges of Norway, and the icy landscape of Estonia. Once in the Moscow airport, we found ourselves sitting at an Irish bar of all places and had beers and burgers. The beer was cold and they had catsup! The next leg of our trip was delayed a bit but we joined up with the Europeans and boarded our flight to Irkutsk.

April 4: In Irkutsk!

After a 7 hour flight, Danny and I along with the other Europeans landed in Irkutsk at 5 AM. After taking several taxis to the Irkutsk Marriott, we struggled to use the hotel’s wireless connection in order to update the blog but were unsuccessful. A drink at the bar and then off to bed. A few hours later, we enjoyed a great breakfast.

Plans changed when rather than going directly to Lake Baikal, the decision was made to spend the whole day in Irkutsk because
WW2 Memorial
the containers were delayed and wouldn’t arrive at the sailing site until Saturday. At 11 AM our international group gathered in the lobby to make a tour of Irkutsk. We
The Market
walked around the city and visited many interesting landmarks including memorials, churches, bars, restaurants, and a huge fresh food market. One of the bars had some creative displays with Barbie dolls. Discussion on that will occur in person and not on this blog.

We visited some churches that had the most amazing Russian Orthodox religious icons painted from the walls all the way up to the five story ceilings. We stopped and

had dinner at a traditional Russian restaurant with really good food in the “wooden house district”. Each rum and coke was more expensive than the two meals that I ordered.

We took a 5k walk back to the hotel and stopped at a grocery store to pick up supplies for Lake Baikal. We went back to the hotel. We went into the bar and met some more sailors as well as Lily, our interpreter. Lily worked real hard all week to make sure we had everything we needed and answered all of our questions. We again tried getting the internet to work and were unsuccessful so we got a little rest and then went out to a disco.

Russian style building

Our first attempt to enter a disco didn’t work out. When we realized they didn’t want us to spend our rubles there, we took cabs to another disco that was recommended to one of our group. When we pulled up, Gareth Rowland K11 said this must be a good disco because there were two entrance doors rather than one and no sign above the door to let you know it was a disco at all. That meant it was a really good place for the locals to go and dance.


Upon entering we went through a metal detector and had to pay an entry fee before they would even let you upstairs to take a look. No pictures were allowed to be taken once inside. We discovered this when we tried to take photos and security stopped us. Me, Joerg, Alexandra, Dideric, Gareth, Christian, Andreas, and Deb ordered drinks, danced, and had a great time. We met some new friends there who were fascinated with where we were going and how we ended up at this bar. We drank and danced until 5:30 AM in the morning. We took cabs back to the hotel, crashed for two hours, and then got up for our adventurous 6 hour bus ride to Lake Baikal.

April 5: Rocky Road

Get on the bus.
After two hours of sleep, we met in the restaurant and had
Getting ready to leave the Marriott Irkuskt
what was going to be our last Western style breakfast. We loaded up the bus which was overstuffed with bags, runners, and people. Another car had to be used to carry four sailors and their bags because there was not enough room in the bus. The first part of the ride took us through the city and then we ended up in the wilderness. The roads were rocky dirt roads
Road to Lake Baikal
which at times the bus was only able to make 10 mph. We were very lucky to have such a good driver who had driven this route before. This was obvious because he knew when he had to slow down and when he could go a little faster. If we had rolled this bus, it would have been truly a disaster because it was overstuffed with people and equipment. The Russian version of the Three Stooges ran on the flat screen at the front of the bus and it was universal humor. You didn’t need to understand the language to laugh.

Rest stop

We stopped at a rest area about 3 or 4 hours into the trip. The bathrooms were quite interesting in that they were holes through a wood floor with no paper to be seen. They were avoided by all the women on the trip. There was a really cool little diner where they served Russian food. Danny and I split some of the food and ordered Budweisers which tasted great. We took some pictures and piled back into the bus.

The first shrine.

Our next stop was at a local shrine where people made offerings and said prayers for good luck. We were told we were close to the lake when we left the shrine but that seemed like the longest part of the journey. Finally we saw glimpses of Lake Baikal. Some areas were very snow covered and some areas were clear but we still had a long ways to go to get to the sailing site.

The resort.
When we arrived at the resort, the ladies who ran the place took turns taking each of us to our rooms. They had Danny and I in separate rooms but I ended up with a big room with three beds so I invited Danny to join me. This was great because it was very important to have each other to help navigate the rocky ground after a night of vodka drinking on our way back to our room.

After we got settled into our room we went back to the dining area and Christoph was serving up a concoction of an Austrian Orange Punch. It was quite tasty but obviously very strong. After a couple of coffee cups of that and greeting some of the sailors, Danny, Hal Bowman, and I decided to walk down and check out the launch area. It was a half mile walk downhill to the lake.

There was one DN sailing on the lake as we approached. I told Danny and Hal I was going to sail that boat. I approached the skipper, Kudashev Alexey R169, and he recognized me and said, “Please take my boat for a sail”. I stopped three times while sailing and retuned his boat and brought it back to him and told him to try it. He was

Kudashev Alexy R169.
very happy.

On the first ride I realized this was going to be a very challenging event because I could see the puffs, shifts, and snow drifts. We made our way back up the rocky hill to the resort and went in the dining room for dinner and drinks. I might have been over served. I was told that I should eat a pickle after each shot of vodka. By the end of the night, instead of eating them, I was throwing them. According to Danny, my aim was not so good. Danny decided it was time to get me out of there and Valeriy Dichenko R166 safely escorted me back to my room. This was important because I had the wrong key and couldn’t get into my room. It was good to have him there so he could walk back through the rocks and get the right key.

April 6: The Containers Arrive

Dideric & Alexandra celebrate the arrival of the containers.
We waited and waited for the container filled with our boats and it finally showed up at 2 PM. The container held 17 complete boats from Europe. It took a while to unload and organize all the equipment. Racing for the Asia Cup started at 3 but we didn’t think the races were going to be counted. I sailed out there just to check out the conditions and the boats were lining up to race. I took a spot on the end of the left side.

The shifts were incredible and the drifts were worse but I managed to lead the first lap. I tacked back to the left shortly after the leeward mark and that didn’t work out

Opening the vault.
so well because Andreas Seegers went all the way to the right and passed me. I got closer to him downwind but when we got to the leeward mark, the race committee abandoned the race because someone had knocked down the weather mark.

I had the Go Pro helmet cam strapped on during this race. After the race I sailed over to the caves and took a look at them. (See video here.) After going in the caves I sailed back to the pits and reported to Joerg and Danny what I had discovered on the race course. At this point I thought the race committee would wait a couple of days for the snow drifts to go down before we started racing. I just wasn’t sure what was really going on.

Danny heads out to the Asia Cup.

Danny went out to the race course so I followed him. The whole time I thought it was scrub races but it was actually part of the Asia Cup. In the second race I started again to the left and there was absolutely no wind on that side of the course. The boats that went to the right were half a leg ahead of me. I spent the rest of the race playing catch up, dodging drifts, and trying to find the wind. The race committee also abandoned that race because we didn’t make the time limit.

They called races for the day. There were two races that counted that day I did not sail in. So Danny and I decided to sail to the caves together. Some other people from the regatta showed up in a car and we helped the ladies walk to the cave using our spikes to help them keep their balance.

Mercedes & Alexandra visit the cave.

When we were done with our cave tour, Danny noticed a boat sailing down the lake without a skipper, a victim of one of the mega snow drifts. I chased the boat down and all of the sudden a guy was waving his arms to get my attention. I sailed over to him and it turned out to be Evgene Ryazhev and his film crew who were creating a promotional video for next year’s event. I didn’t have time to help them right then and continued on chasing the skipperless DN five miles down the lake. Eventually I caught up with the boat and stopped it, turned it in to the wind, and a Russian guy showed up to tow it back. The skipper then showed up in a car. We put his sail back up and he sailed home.

Asia Cup

April 7: Battling Mother Nature
Today was the wrap up of the Asia Cup. The ice was hard and the wind was strong, the velocity was up and down, and shifty which is a typical day on Lake Baikal. It was blowing hard enough that I needed to change my underwear after getting launched out of my boat and landing on the back deck after hitting a big drift and then pulling myself back into the cockpit with my mainsheet during the first downwind leg of the first race. The worst part about it was that the Go Pro wasn’t on because I was having battery issues. Otherwise I would have some more entertaining video. Conditions were Lake Baikal personified-shifty and puffy. You add into that the snow drifts and it was incredibly tough sailing.

Asia Cup

There was no laying back in the boat, fairing in, and going to max warp. This was truly the definition of battling with Mother Nature. I was really happy that the boat stayed in one piece after getting launched off of the snow drifts with 3 runners in the air several times. Then of course once in the air, the boat tends to start drifting sideways and you have to correct your steering as you land.

You had to be constantly steering the boat to find as clear a lane as possible. When you had a clear lane you could sheet in hard and pinch to get around some of the snow drifts. But it was really important to have the boat going straight and very fast if you had to drive through the snowdrifts. It was definitely a Jan Gougeon situation where you wanted to err on the side of speed.

You had to be really careful because sometimes the breeze would just die off and you had to try and figure out if it was better to tack and find more air or go straight through the lull to get to the next puff. I was fortunate enough to have all my starts on the right side and that seemed to work out well. The clearest lanes were going left after the dolly mark. It was only in the last race of the day where the wind had gone left that I was able to one-tacked the weather mark on all three laps. The Go Pro was mounted to the mast step for the last 3 races of the day.

It is excellent footage but it doesn’t do justice to the roller coaster ride. I was waiting for my boat to break. I was sure it would. But every time I would see a big snow drift coming, I would ease the mainsheet out about three feet, hang on, sheet back in, and look for the next clear lane.

Dideric contemplates life.
Photo Credit: Alexandra van Egmond

Several boats were broken including Joerg’s and Christian’s. Dideric had no less than 3 out of boat experiences one of which was caught in living color for ever to be in the annals of history by his lovely wife, Alexandra. Deb Whitehorse was impressed that Alexandra was able to keep focus and continue shooting pictures as her husband’s pelvic region careened dangerously close to the boom. Luckily there were no permanent injuries to Dideric, and he and his wife were able to completely enjoy their vacation.

Dideric's Out of Boat Experience
Photos by Alexandra von Egmond
Click on this photo to enlarge it and notice the snow devil cyclone on the left.

Incredibly I managed to win all four races. The boat worked great using an old standard carbon mast, 2002 ABSS sail, and my Russian travel runners. I was really happy the boat stayed in one piece.

Chasers, Russian style.

We went in put the boats away cleaned up and the awards party for the end of the Asia Cup began. It was quite a party. It didn’t matter which table you were at, the vodka was flowing hard. I tried to convince the cook 2 days ago that I’d like to have a bottle of vodka with water in it to try to fool everyone but somehow it was lost in translation. But I found the secret to surviving multiple shots of vodka was eating a pickle after each shot. It’s a Russian trick which I did not take advantage of my first night here. The first night instead of eating the pickles I was throwing them at my brother from another mother, Danny Connell, but my aim was not so good. I blame the vodka.

We all had a great night and a lot of fun. Remember races don’t start until after noon. Just roll out of bed when you want, have breakfast, walk down to the ice and you are ready to go. The next morning opening ceremonies were scheduled for 11:00 am and races were due to start at 1:00pm. Perfect!!!

April 8: Dedication
The day began about one in the morning when I saw one of the competitors standing in the hallway close to my room. When I asked him if he was OK, he pointed towards the garbage can and mumbled something that wasn’t legible in any language. And if that wasn’t enough, we were woken up this morning by another competitor violently retching up proceeds from the night before. We’ve all been there, but after four hours of violent retching, they were able to say the fun was worth it. I don’t think I could match that type of dedication. There was also an Englishman knocking on doors on his jolly way home from the pub. Gareth appreciated the fact that he didn’t remember. His philosophy is that “if you don’t remember it, it didn’t happen.”

The wind howled loudly all night which caused us to walk down early to check on the boats. The ice screws did their job and our boats were fine.

The pictures will not be able to tell the true story of the beauty this place possess with mountains that appear like you could reach out and touch them but they are many miles away. The Russians welded flag poles to the top of the containers for each of the represented countries. There were 44 sailors and 8 countries represented; including 3 from USA, 9 from Germany, 2 from Poland,

23 from Russia, 2 from Holland, 1 from Sweden, 3 from Switzerland, and 1 from England. Opening ceremonies consisted of a few welcome speeches that were translated into 3 languages. Uvarkin Valentin R204 raised the flag with the sponsors of the Baikal Pearl Cup to open the regatta.

The PRO told us his plans for racing, and we were sent to the race course. You know it was going to be a tough day when the wind was in the opposite direction of the standard breeze. It was bright and sunny and getting warm. It was so beautiful out there. The usual complement of police vehicles and hovercraft followed us out to the course. There was also a local hot food vendor out at the starting line and the race committee provided hot tea and sandwiches.

The breeze shifted 180 degrees and they moved the starting line closer to home. People were able to reach around and get moving a bit so the race committee called us to the line. I put the Go Pro on the top of the mast and was looking forward to getting some good footage but we never raced. The wind died, shifted 90 degrees to the left, 90 degrees to the right, and then died again. The temperatures were the warmest so far in the mid-30s F.

They sent us in a 6 PM which was followed with the typical night of showers, food, and cocktails. I was happy that Miller Beer was served in the bar. It is always funny to me that after a waiting around on the ice all day to race, everyone was tired and went to bed early. After you have a great day with a lot of racing the bar is full till the end.

April 9: First Complete Day of Racing for Baikal Cup
We got up, had breakfast, went down to the ice for the first start time which was to be at 1 PM. The Ice Optimists tried to race close to the pits. I spent some time helping them to tune their boats a little bit. The air was real light but there was some sailors reaching around the course so the race committee sent us out. They set up a course and waited for the wind to build enough to race.

While we watched the Optis try to race that early afternoon, we realized it was Monday night back at home and that Michigan was playing Louisville in the college Men's basketball national title. We asked Dideric to bring up ESPN on his Iphone and we were able to follow the last 2 minutes of the game live while standing on Lake Baikal. Incredible!

Watching the Optis with Margreet Bosker and Martin Schneider.
Photo by Evgeny Ryazhev

When the wind held above 3 meters per second or 6 knots, the race committee started the race. I put the Go Pro camera on the top of the mast for the first two races and got some great footage. It was easy to see what was working on the race course and what wasn’t. There was a lot less snow drifts on the left side of the course as you were heading upwind. It paid every time to sail into the weather mark close to the port tack lay line. You needed to play the right side downwind as well to avoid the snow drifts.

Photo by Alexandra van Egmond

I started in the 20th position in the first race. That worked out great because it had me heading left towards the areas with less snow. On the second and third upwind legs I would only go about 200 or 300 yards past the leeward mark and then tack to the left. That worked out really good and I won the first race of the day.

The second race I started in the number one position and tacked to the left as soon as I found a clear lane going left after the Darling mark. It was tricky to find the lanes with less snow. Jakob "Kuba" Schneider P679 actually passed me on the third beat but I was able to get to the left of him and pass him back before the weather mark. So I won that race as well.

Photo by Evgeny Ryazhev

In the third race as I was pulling my boat to the starting line over the drift, I felt a funny drag. It felt like I had gone over a rock. So I started in the number one position and the breeze was up a little bit. I made the mistake of trying to go all the way right and then was pounding through drift after drift coming into the weather mark on starboard tack. To compound my mistake I ended up pinching the weather mark. What am I, new? I was 3rd at the weather mark with Dideric leading and Martin in second. On the first downwind leg, I jibed a little too early and had to do a double jibe to get around the leeward mark. Martin had passed Dideric and both of them were still in front of me. On the second beat I managed to keep a clear lane above Dideric after rounding the leeward mark and tacked to left a little earlier than he did which got me in front of him. I went a little further left than Martin did and came in to the second weather mark right on the port tack layline. He rounded just in front of me but by the time I tacked and accelerated, he stretched out to a nice lead again. Martin was doing a really good job sailing his boat downwind really fast and avoiding the drifts. On the last weather leg Martin tacked over to the left side a little quicker than I did again. I picked a clear lane above him and went across. Martin was sailing with a textbook style and tacking a little short of the layline so that he had time to accelerate the boat on starboard tack on his way in to the weather mark. I was trying to take advantage of the clear lanes on the left side and came in to the last weather mark on the port tack layline again. I rounded the last weather mark in front of Martin but tacked right at the mark. Martin used the time it took me to accelerate to pass me downwind and I was unable to catch him. On the last downwind leg, I tried jibing early and came in to the finish line on starboard tack but I didn't get any closer to him. This whole race was captured on two Go Pro cameras, one facing forward and one facing back. My plan is to edit and put on a split screen-that way you can be the judge.

Martin Schneider
Photo by Evgeny Ryazhev

We sat in the pits expecting another race but the race committee decided to run the Opti races and we were sent in for the day. When I checked my runner after the race I found a huge nick and actually a scratch along the flat - that was really a bad thing to have happened. For some reason the ice and snow seemed to have a lot of dirt on it. I’m sure it didn’t help that they were running cars all over the ice. So I got in as fast as I could and took both my slipper and travel runners back to the resort so that I could put them on the machine and stone them. It was really nice that the Russians had a sharpening machine that they let us use. I got my runners finished and took a short nap before returning to the bar and joining all of my friends.

We had a great night and Martin was only one point behind me. A lot of the Russians were trying to get me to drink more vodka and I wasn’t having anything to do with it!

April 10: Visit to Sacred Sites

Photo by Margreet Bosker
This day turned out to be the best day of the trip for me. The PRO had an amazing ability to predict when to run races. Races were never started before noon because it took that long for the land to heat up and the wind to settle into a steady direction. Opti races were scheduled to run first at noon, the DN races were scheduled to start at 2:00 pm. It was a beautiful morning sunny warm and very little wind.

Visiting the Stupa on Ogoy islet.

Valentin came to our room and told us that my new friend, Felix, had chartered the hovercraft and was going to take us to some of the sacred places of Lake Baikal. Deb, Dan, and I got our stuff together, rushed down to the ice, and boarded the hovercraft. I mounted one of the Go Pro cameras on the front of the hovercraft. It was a great tour of the portion of Lake Baikal that reminds me of Green Bay in Wisconsin.

Photos by Margreet Bosker

First, we hovered over to look at a car that went too close to shore and broke through the ice. It was interesting to watch the recovery process. An area of ice was cut out directly behind the car, a wire was attached to the frame, and a post sunk into the ice about 100 meters back from the car. Ramps were put under the wheels. They had arms that stuck out about 3 meters on each side of the post, they put two guys on each of the arms, and walked around in circles and winched the car out of the hole. After that we jumped back to the hovercraft and flew it over to an island with a Stupa, a sacred religious monument that services all religions.

In the hovercraft with Felix.

Debbie send me information before the trip about the Stupa so I knew that I was supposed to carry a rock up the steep hill to the shrine and then walk around it either 3, 13, or 113 times, while praying. So I did exactly that. I carried a big rock up from the ice, placed it on the alter with an offering under it, walked around the Stupa three times, saying Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes, and asked for enlightenment and inspiration.

Ron On The Rocks

We all really enjoyed our time there and felt at peace and inspired to move forward in a positive way. Then we walked down from the monument, boarded the hovercraft and flew 30 miles north to another sacred place called the Shaman Rock. This was in incredibly beautiful place and we took lots of pictures and videos. I climbed up to the top of these rocks where the picture “Ron On the Rocks” was created. It was getting pretty late and there was some concern as to whether they were going to run races. We received a phone call and we were told the wind was light and races were postponed. But even if they had run races I was really happy that I got to visit these two spiritual places. Getting to go and visit these 2 spiritual places would have been worthwhile even if I had missed racing.

To say I was inspired is an understatement. I seemed to be overflowing with ideas on how to make things better at this regatta and in things back home. I hope I can continue down this path. We boarded the hovercraft and took the long ride back to the pits. When we returned, the race committee was sending the DNs out to the course. I had forgotten my spikes in the room so I had to ride the bus back to the resort and then back down to the pits again. This made me the last one to get out to the race course.

President of the Russian Yachting Federation, Vladimir Silkin, before his very first ice boat ride. Photo by Eveny Ryazhev.

We were postponed for a long time. I noticed a Russian dignitary walking towards my boat. He just happened to be Vladimir Silkin, President of the Russian Yachting Federation. I thought it would be a great idea to put him in my boat and let people take some pictures. All of the sudden, he was being pushed out on the course so that he could sail my boat. I was a little concerned because I had my race runners on and didn’t want him to run over the starting wire. Vladimir struggled at first to dodge the snow drifts and get the boat going but I took my Neo boots off, got him lined up with a good path free of snow, talked to him about avoiding the drifts, and gave him a good push off. Suddenly he was sailing the boat real fast and passing the Russians out on the course who were trying to help him. The breeze had come up and the race committee called us to the starting line while he was still out sailing. So I jumped in Felix’s 4wd dune buggy, he took me out to my boat, I exchanged places with Vladimir, and sailed my boat back to the starting line.

The wind was really light again and we were only able to complete one race. The course was set up in the same area as the day before and I did a good job of using the left side and finding the clear lanes. The slipper runners worked really well because they were high and thin and have 11” of .008 flat. This made it easy to steer around the drifts or sail through the drifts if necessary. Their light weight made it easy to ride a hike at will.

Photo by Alexandra van Egmond.

I was running late so I didn’t have time to put the camera on the boat. When the day was done, I had 3 firsts and a second and Martin had a first, 2 seconds, and a third. Christian Seegers did a great job finishing second in the only race of the day. After that his bow steering bushing broke the next day, and he was unable to compete for the rest of the regatta. The wind got lighter and lighter and the race committee made the correct call again and sent us in. The nights have started to blend together. By this point I had eaten so much Omul (fish) and drank so much vodka, I had started to sprout gills. But every night was a good time. The good news was my runners were fine and I was able to leave all my runners at the ice and just go back and enjoy the camaraderie.

Tell tales

April 11: Four A Day
I spent the morning working with the Ice Optimist sailors helping to tune their boats and some of the younger guys DNs. Some of the Opti sailors didn’t have tell tales on their sails so we scrounged up some tell tales and made sure that all Opti sailors had them. We also showed them how to use the tell tales and the importance of having their sail ties tied equal distances from the mast so that their sail has the shape the designer intended.

Photo by Margreet Bosker

Then we were called out to the race course. At first the Optis tried racing in the morning but the wind was too light. There was talk about canceling the Optis and just racing the DNs but Joerg convinced the race committee it would be OK to run Ice Opti races in between the DN races.

The breeze was building as the day went on. I stayed with my slipper runners all day even though the breeze got up to 15 kts. We alternated DN and Opti races for a total of 4 DN races and 2 Opti races. I won the first two races of the day and Martin and Kuba were taking turns at second and third. After the first two races they ran an Opti race and the DN raced a third race. I won that race as well. The wind was blowing hard enough that I just one tacked and jibed the race course.

Photo by Evgeny Ryazhev

The big worry was as the breeze was coming on, trying to remember where the big snow drifts were and dodging them. In the fourth race of the day, I had a comfortable lead and was coming downwind when I jibed to go to the leeward mark, I hit a big snow drift and pulled the hull to plank fitting off of the hull on one side. I stopped the boat, took the mast down, put the plank back into position, and sailed very slowly and carefully back to the pits. Took the mast down and took the hull off the plank, screwed the plate back on to the hull. Everyone was helping, especially Christoph Schmidt and Danny Connell. I was ready to go for the next race. It started to rain harder and they called racing for the day. The plan was to run 4 races tomorrow the last day of the regatta to give us 12 total races.

Photo by Alexandra von Egmond

After racing was called for the day, the film crew called me, Kuba, Valentin, and Martin out for a photo shoot. They set us up for all different kinds of scenes. We were out there for 2 hours in the rain doing this, but the resulting video is much more than worth it.

I was running out of time because I had to get back and get changed for a hovercraft ride to another resort for a dinner and meeting with all of the top dignitaries that were present. The reason for this dinner and meeting was to discuss the future of this regatta and to discuss the potential for having a World Championship on Lake Baikal. The meeting was very successful and the regattas on Lake Baikal will get bigger in the future The dinner was excellent with 4 different kinds of Omul and delicious salads.

Dinner party

The dignitaries thought it was a good idea to eat a piece of raw Omul after each shot of vodka. I almost left a Picasso on the table. It was a very elegant time and I got to see another incredibly beautiful part of the lake. We were also entertained by the Russian girls singing folk songs with wonderful enthusiasm. Just thinking about it makes me smile.

Sing a song.

The hovercraft ride back from the party at night time was really cool. They had dual spotlights off the front of the craft trying to locate the next jams we had to go over. It was blowing so hard, that the hovercraft was going sideways the whole way home.

They had lights on in cars waiting for us when we got back to the pits and drove us back up to the dining room. When we got back we found that Danny and Kuba had become best friends and had been well served with Cognac. My friend Felix convinced me that if I was going to drink vodka to drink ONLY vodka which I did and actually felt better the next day for it. Thanks, Felix! We had another wonderful night.

Cabin #5
Photo by Margreet Bosker

This time it was me who made sure that Danny made it home OK. I owed him at least that. We stumbled up the hill and took refuge on the porch of Hal and Mercede’s cabin for one last shot of vodka on the way home. We stopped every night on our way home on their porch so that Merc could tell us what time we left the bar each night. Hal left vodka open on the porch to make us happy and keep us from trying to come into their cottage. We all had so much fun.

Photo by Alexandra von Egmond

April 12: Last Day at Baikal
Friday, the wind was blowing 18 meters per second (about 36-40 kts) and it was supposed to build all day long. The weather prediction was correct and it didn’t take long for the PRO to call the regatta complete.

This allowed us to get started right away to load the 17 boats back into the container. After the boats were loaded we got cleaned up and packed our bags so we could attend the prize giving ceremony.

The prize giving ceremony was held outside in windy and cool conditions but the sun being out helped. There was a dancing Nerpa seal and lots of wonderful prizes for the Juniors and Seniors at the regatta including Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals for the

Gypsy Dance
Photo by Margreet Bosker
top 3 finishers. It was a beautiful ceremony.

Shaman Blessings
Photo by Margreet Bosker

Then they invited us in for the banquet where more raw and smoked Omul and vodka was placed before me. Another entertainment highlight was a Gypsy dance performed by one the competitor’s wives. A local Shaman gave a blessing and we all danced around in a circle with him.

After all that we said our tearful good byes to Lake Baikal and the new friends we had met loaded in the bus and drove to Irkutsk. We talked about the trip and drank vodka on the way to Irkutsk.

It was me, Martin, Richard, Danny, and Christoph sitting together and we had a lot of laughs. We spent a couple of hours in the Marriott Hotel, got up took a cab to the airport, and started the flights home. My time on Baikal was a magical life changing experience.

It was thrilling to meet many of the Russian DN Sailors and see the enthusiasm they have for our sport. Every were I sail DNs the people are fun loving people who are extremely competitive on the ice and best friends who are always helpful at night.

Shaman Blessings
Photo by Margreet Bosker

It was very rewarding to work with Russian Opti and DN sailors and watch them improve. The enlightenment I felt the day on the Stupa and Shaman’s Rock inspired me to speak freely the President of the Russian Yachting Federation in a very positive way and to make contact with the Russian Yachting Federation National Youth Coach, Anastasia Chernova. I hope I will be able to convince her to send a Russian team to the United States Optimist Dingy Association National Championship this summer. I am the Sailing Director at Grosse Pointe Yacht Club and we will be hosting the regatta. I look forward to my next trip to Lake Baikal and hope this blog will convince many of you to take the adventure of a life time and sail there as well.

Baikal Ice Yacht Racing 2013 from Evgeny Ryazhev on Vimeo.

April 20, 2013

Professional photographer Evegny Ryazhev was kind enough to share his photo album with us. Take a look at these outstanding pictures here.

April 16, 2013

April 15, 2013

Photo Credit: Alexandra Van Egmond
Click on the photo to see what Ron's steering runner shouldn't be doing.

Photo Credit: Alexadra van Egmond
Ron is back from Russia and has many stories, photos, and video to share on the blog. Inadequate internet access made it impossible to keep the blog updated while he was there but he did keep a record s and will be sharing that in the upcoming days. There will be a GoPro helmet cam video uploaded today.

April 2, 2013

All packed up and headed to the airport. The container bringing the boats has been delayed and will arrive in Irkutsk the same day as we do, Wednesday. We will spend the first night in Irkutsk rather than going straight up to Lake Baikal. This will be a chance to get used to the time change and spend one more night in a more western style of living.

The container carrying the Russians' boats was delayed as well so Joerg is trying to make arrangements so that we can all stay together in the same hotel in Irkutsk. Thursday all 50 of us will follow the containers up to Lake Baikal in a big bus. It makes no sense going up if the boats aren't there yet.

The big vodka sponsor has pulled out and has been replaced by a bottled water company. Maybe this will be safer for everyone. Time to ramp up. The ice looks good very hard with some snow drifts. The temperatures have been colder than normal there too. Lows are in the teens to single digits, and highs are in the upper twenties to thirties. The sun does not go down until after 9:00 pm. More soon.
DN US 44
- Ron Sherry

March 25, 2013

The “ambassador of ice sailing”, European IDNIYRA Commodore Joerg Bohn, urged me to travel to Lake Baikal to compete in the 2013 DN Cup of Baikal regatta. Russian interest in ice sailing is experiencing a tremendous amount of growth right now and it’s exciting for me to be able to share my passion for the sport and share with them how to get their boats to go faster. Seeing my friend
Gretchen Dorian’s breathtaking photographs from the 2012 regatta has me looking forward to sailing on Baikal in a big way.


The past three weeks I’ve had perfect training for the regatta. Two weeks ago we sailed on Anchor Bay near Detroit where light air built to shifty 15 kts in the afternoon with warmer temperatures that made the ice a little bit soft, probably like what it could be on Lake Baikal.

The last two weekends we sailed about an hour from my home on Holloway Reservoir. The first weekend we dealt with light air, really shifty, puffy, and sticky snow conditions that made for good training. I concentrated on making big adjustments to the boat to keep it going fast.

This weekend on Holloway again we experienced light air in morning and 2.5” of styrofoam textured drifts. The breeze came up to 15 kts with some puffs to 20 which forced us to have to really power the boat through and keep the boat hiking all the time. I could have kept sailing laps and laps and laps all day!

Not only has this been good training for conditions but good physical training. I’ve been hitting the gym every week in preparation for the regatta but there’s nothing better for training for ice boating that actually ice boating.

From my inventory of components that I keep in Europe, I decided to ship an old 1999 FO1 sail as well as old ABSS to Russia because I believe we’ll see some sticky and slower conditions where the old stretched out sails will work the best. I’ve been training with the same sails here in the US the past three weeks as I have in Europe. In today’s big breeze the old FO1 looked a little better with a stiffer top batten so I’m going to keep that in mind for Russia.

As far as race runner selection goes, I sent my slippers, bullnose, old insert runners with removable wings, angles, maximum Ts, and a set of travel runners so that I can sail them out to the race area and put race runners on.

Finally, I spent time today practicing how and where to mount Go Pro video cameras because I want to get some great footage of the regatta from interesting angles.

I’m lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to train three weeks in a row for the regatta and can’t wait to sail on Lake Baikal!