By DAVID HAZLEDINE and NIKKI CARLSON
A crowd of nearly 100 tired but jovial ice boat racers from all over North America and Europe gathered in the Oakwood Resort on Lake Wawasee in Syracuse Friday, Feb. 22, to honor the winners of the 2019 International Detroit News Ice Yacht Racing Association North American Championship Regatta. International DN-style ice yachts are the most popular ice racing boats in North American and Europe.
U.S. racer Ron Sherry of Michigan hoisted the first place trophy after edging out Michal Burczynski and Tomasz Zakerzewski of Poland during the course of five races, which saw competitors reaching speeds of 50 to 60 mph in what incoming IDNIYRA Commodore Jody Kjoller called “tough conditions … the ice deteriorated as the day went on.”
A total of 14 races — 93 boats divided into three “fleets,” bronze, silver and gold, with the latter featuring the 40 fastest racers — were run on a .7 mile course, less than the usual mile due to the ice conditions on Lake Wawasee. The shorter course resulted in racers bunching up. “It made for exciting crossings with other boats,” Kjoller explained.
The race was moved to Lake Wawasee from Lima, Ohio, following the IDNIYRA World Championships, due to heavy, wet snow covering the ice on Indian Lake. Organizers were forced to look for nearby accommodations and found them, thanks to the efforts of Rick Lemberg and members of the Wawasee Ice Boat Squadron, who have long lobbied for the competition to be held on Lake Wawasee. In fact, Lemberg has annually filed for a permit in recent years “to be on the safe side.”
On Wawasee, the frozen rain created what Kjoller called “the Zamboni effect” — referring to the machine used to smooth hockey rinks — by melting the snow on top of the ice, which then refroze, creating an ideal course. “Thank God, because the regatta was about to not happen,” he added.
Ryan Lashaway, an ice sailer from Cleveland, Ohio, commented on the convenience of the Oakwood location, which saved the racers from having to travel to and from the lake thanks to having rooms right on the shore. “A lot of us take days off of work to come to these, so you want to have a good time.”
After the awards ceremony, Lemberg was greeted by several racers who congratulated him on his efforts. He, in turn, acknowledged other local individuals and organizations who helped make the regatta possible, including his wife Cathy, Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, Wawasee Yacht Club, Andy Allen, Bob Fanning, Ryan Baylor and Kenny Bowles.
“It turned out absolutely wonderful,” he exclaimed. “We’ve had some races but never any majors, so it worked out well.”
For a complete listing of the North American Championship results, go to http://dniceboat.org/idniyra/2019NorthAmerican.html.
For more information go to www.idniyra.org.