It wasn’t easy but not only is the DN North American Champs in the books, it was run against the odds and in fine style by the Eastern Region.

Chad Atkins and the team made some good calls in the face of challenging weather patterns and ice conditions across the continent. What seemed like a million ice reports came in from all over and to make a VERY long story short nothing looked good enough to tell everyone to hit the road. Until….

…Finally it was decided to head to Lake Charlevoix in NW Michigan. Excellent call, the ice was good and the snow held off long enough to git ‘er done!

The event ended up being knocked out in a day, five races for each fleet in a range of conditions- early in the day the ice was hard and fast and as it warmed up runners started digging in and adapting boat tune and sailing style was necessary.

The NEIYA and Eastern Region was very well represented; Thieler, Atkins, Lovejoy, Clapp, Hadley, Anderson, Miller, L’Hullier, Baby, Crinion, Curtis, Madden, Brush, Whitcomb, Nethercoate, Samson, Meade, Truesdell, Gordon, Fortier, Valentine, Duncan, Kaiser, McGowan, Connell, and Kent (and probably a few I forgot) made the trip west and waved the NEIYA flag! Not bad at all…

Sailors from the US, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Holland, Poland, and Ohio were all in attendance.

In the Silver Fleet Eben Whitcomb took fifth place, counting a bullet in Race 3. Not bad at all! Some guys from Toledo (Kjoller and Baker) took fourth and third with Don Brush edging both out for second. His finishes of 1,2,3,2,(9) were excellent but amazingly not good enough to keep Steve Madden out of the top spot with a (21),1,2,1,2. Way to rebound from a bad first race! When asked the next day to talk about his win, Steve’s response was to cryptically state that “I’M NOT LIFTING ANYTHING TODAY.” We can only surmise that he left it all on the race course! See photos for a shot of Whitcomb and Madden in the 1 and 2 starting spots….

In the Gold Fleet Chad Atkins was able to forget about the pressures of running the event long enough to take sixth spot in his new CSI/MBC hull, only one point out of fifth. After a strong morning NEIYA Commodore T Thieler counted some high numbers but still managed a fourth. Just ahead of him (AGAIN) was Steve Orlebeke from WI who sailed a strong series. John Dennis of MN missed one race with a rig failure but bounced back for second and Ron Sherry was consistent across all the conditions to take the whole show. Well done Ron! Full results here http://na.idniyra.org/2018/01/26/2018-north-american-championship-results/

I should note that Ron gave a great victory speech (he’s had a bit of practice at this over the years) and also shared some great memories of Meade Gougeon that had everyone in the room laughing through the tears. Well done again Ron- ever think of politics or stand-up comedy? Either way we all appreciate the thoughts.

A few film crews were on hand to document the action, check this site for some video already posted and stay tuned for more down the road….

There were photographers and drone pilots a-plenty, see their stuff at these links:

Jeff Kent drone footage:


Onboard with Pete Johns:
Video: Take a ride on an ice boat.

Gretchen Dorian stills:

As ever the volunteers who ran the event deserve a standing “O”! My apologies to everyone I’ve forgotten but Loretta Rehe, Deb Whitehorse, Dan Heaney, John Atkins, Bob Schumacher, Mercedes Auger, Erica Stange, Bob and Anne Foeller, Bill Coberly, Bob Grey, and probably more pitched in to get this event knocked out in one day. No small feat- We can’t thank you all enough! When asked to comment on the event Atkins uttered something that was best described as part gibberish, part scat-singing, and part the ramblings of an over-caffeinated lunatic. That said I’m pretty sure he thanks everyone who made it happen as well!

Thanks also to all the sailors who kept the faith and made it to the event! Worth the trip yet again….

Already looking forward to next year and of course all the local and regional events still to come this season. Stay Tuned and Think ICE!!

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