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Grand Traverse Ice Yacht Club Fun Regatta
February 27-28, 2016
Elk Lake, Elk Rapids, Michigan
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This year’s FUN REGATTA was definitely one of the highlights of the year. It was especially FUN for me because it was the first time this year Griffin and I were going to have an opportunity sail our new boats together. We loaded up everything we needed in the van on Friday, in between school, hockey, and work projects. We got up at 6:00 am Saturday morning and started the 4 hour drive. We kept ourselves entertained by listening to Griffin’s music and practicing our favorite road song, Red Neck Yacht Club. Griffin taught me another one of his songs. God Is Great, Beer Is Good, And People Are Crazy. What a HOOT.
The drive was a tough one because we left near the end of a 3 inch snow storm that made the roads treacherous. We had to stop and buy new wiper blades. We were checking in with Hoop (John Harper) who left at about the same time as us which helped keep us going. We took our time and made it up to the White Water Park at the south end of Elk Lake at about 10:30. There wasn’t much wind as predicted so there was no hurry to get the boats on the ice.
Dick and Julie and the GTIYC had things all set up before we got there. They had scouted and sailed in the area the last two days and had the fire pit, chairs, and the kitchen area all set up. GTIYC really knows how to put on a FUN regatta. They had already broken in the fire pit by sitting around the fire until sunset on Friday night telling stories, enjoying great company, good food, and a little libation.

Griffin and I set up our boats and pushed them around with Hoop and Julie. Since there was no wind, we decided to explore White Water Park. We walked around the park and took some pictures. What a beautiful place. We made our way down to the ice and Bruce Williams was pushing around trying to get a ride.
About 4:30 the wind came up and people started getting rides. There was 100% snow coverage with 1 inch over 60 % and 2 inches over 30% and 3 inch drifts over the last 10% of the ice so it took some wind to get through it. There were 8 boats reaching around having fun. No course was set up but everyone got a ride. At about 6:00 the wind started to get lighter and the snow started to get a little stiffer so it was time to pack them up and enjoy some food and camaraderie around the fire pit. We felt lucky to be alive enjoying the beautiful sights and friends. You just wanted all of your iceboat friends to look through your eyes and enjoy the time as well.

We decided to meet back at the hotel restaurant in Traverse City at 8:00 for dinner. This gave Griffin and I just enough time to check in and enjoy a little time in the Jacuzzi and pool. We had our usual Can-Opener contest to see who could splash the ceiling. Our judges in the Jacuzzi were very impressed. We went down to the restaurant and grabbed a table. Dick and Julie, Bruce Williams, Randy Johnson, Hoop, David Frost, and Julie’s brother Bruce Richards joined us. What a great time we had. There was a DJ and Dick requested Red Neck Yacht Club. Griffin and I stood up and sang the song. SOOO FUNNY!!!
The DJ also played the new to me old song God Is Great, Beer Is Good, And People Are Crazy. What an awesome time. Griffin and I went to the ice by 9:00. The wind was still light but you could sail. The snow was a little stiffer than Saturday but the wind was supposed to build and the temperature was going up to 42 degrees. Griffin and I went out to practice. As the wind built there were huge shifts and puffs. Jim Grogan the Jones brothers and Harry Defur showed up and we had close to 20 boats racing.

In the first race Jim Grogan got out to a huge lead and no one could catch him. I was in second place coming into the third weather mark but when I tacked I knocked my GoPro camera off of my helmet. I did a quick turn around and picked up the camera and got passed by Harry Defur and George Reis. I tried jibing down the middle and got no advantage. I ended up passing Harry but John Harper came from behind to take second in the race. George was third, I was fourth, and Harry was fifth, which was Harry’s worst race. He finished fourth in the remaining 5 races, very consistent. Griffin had trouble getting down wind in the huge puffs and decided to retire from the first race.
In the second race, I got off to a good start from the 4 position. Hoop was hot on my tail from the 2 position. The left side worked well so Hoop I were in first and second rounding the first weather mark and held our positions at first the leeward mark. On the second beat I tried going all the way to the right side, but ended up tacking a little short of lay line and having to do two tacks at the second weather mark. This allowed Hoop to pass me. Hoop held the lead at the second leeward mark, so I decided to tack right away and go to the left side which worked well. I was able to pass Hoop and hold the lead to the finish. Hoop was second Reis was third, Harry fourth, and Grogan fifth. As I walked up to Julie, who decided not to race, she told me Griffin had not come back. I told Julie before I left don’t wait for us-- RUN your races. This is the FUN Regatta. I sailed up to Griffin near the weather mark to find out what happened. As it turned out Griffin had broken a carbon Little Rebel mast I had built for Merili in 2006. He was afraid I would be mad at him. I was glad to see he was pushing the boat that hard and told him he would have to call Merili and tell her he had broken her mast. The ice was really slow and the puffs were really big and you had to be quick with the sheet to keep the mast in the boat.
We sailed in and I decided to give Griffin the mast I was using which was a Wendell QIL and put my standard QIL on my boat. We also changed to our ABSS sails. I was glad Griffin was eager to get back out and race. We made the changes as fast as we could and missed race 3. Hoop won race 3 followed by Grogan, Reis, Defur, and Bill Cutting.
Race 4 started as Griffin and sailed back to the starting area. I was glad to see Julie had done what I asked and was running the races. I stopped behind the line dumped my stuff and took off my jacket and started the race. I sailed as fast as I could and managed to barely make it back to fifth place. Grogan won, followed by Hoop, Reis, and Defur.
In race 5, I started from the fifth position. I went about half the way to the right side and tacked to the left. I got a huge puff and sailed to the left side and tacked on port tack lay line. I rounded with a nice lead. The standard QIL and ABSS sail felt great. On the second beat I tried going all the way right and tacked. I was just a little short of lay line so this time I tried pinching the weather mark with the same result Hoop capitalized on my mistake and passed me again. To compound my mistake I jibed early and went too far and came into the second leeward mark over stood. This gave Hoop a nice lead, so I tacked right away after rounding the second leeward mark and blasted over to the left side. I came into the third weather mark on port tack lay line and this got me back in front of Hoop. I held the lead to the finish with Hoop second, Reis third, Defur fourth and Bruce Williams fifth.
Grogan had a weld failure on his hound which was a real bummer because he was right in the hunt within 2 points of Hoop and having a blast. We all owe Jim Grogan a huge thank you, because he spearheads a group of sailors who were able to find enough local ice so that he, Hoop, the Jones brothers, Reis, Williams, Frost and others were able to log 69 races before this year’s DN North American Championship. Jim and his scouts were able to find safe ice to sail almost every weekend. That is why you see all of them up so high in the results. Thank you Jim Grogan!!!
Race 6 I had finally learned my lesson. I started in the one position went half way across to the right side and tacked over to the left. I managed to keep the gas pedal down hard and stopped trying to make going all the way right up wind work. Every weather leg I went half way across to the right and tacked over to the left side. I came into every weather mark on port tack lay line and only did one jibe down wind. I won the race, Reis was second, Hoop third, you guessed it Defur was forth, and Bob Struble was fifth.
Dr. John Harper won the 2016 GTIYC FUN Regatta. Hoop has been doing a great job sailing. If you ever sail next to him you will see how smooth he is in the boat and how fast he will sail away if you make any mistake. Hoop placed 5th in this year’s North American Championship against the toughest competition. Hoop is a great guy who is always willing to share his tuning ideas. I managed to take second, Reis was third, Defur was forth, Grogan fifth.
The ice was not quite good enough to hold the Central Lakes Regional. It was a great idea to hold the GTIYC FUN Regatta. Huge thanks go out to Bill Cutting, Bob Gray, and Dick Wollam for scouting the ice and finding us another SAFE place to sail and have a great time with our friends. The Bird House Trophies are a favorite for any one lucky enough to win one. Thanks again to Julie for sacrificing her own racing time to score the races. The GTIYC FUN Regatta was another HUGE success.

See you on the ice and Keep the FUN Pedal Pressed.

Ron Sherry