Snow is the DN Fleet Divider
The last day of the 2023 DN Worlds featured 1-2" snow drifts dotted across the .8 mile long plate and caused difficult conditions for all three fleets. Silver started the day and with the breeze up most were able to complete their laps and the same was true for bronze. Then the sun started peaking out behind the clouds and caused the breeze to lighten and swirl quite a bit. I appreciated the race committee’s diligent efforts to get in one more gold fleet race. The team had to move and drag the starting line at least four times before our start.
Then we were called to the line. The night before the race organizers hosted a panel discussion with four of the best DN sailors in the world. One of those individuals Tomek Zakrzewski , a two-time world champion, discussed his starting technique. I was ready to try it. He and his compatriates sheet in almost 80% of max so that his blocks are just about touching. He is quite sure it helps with faster acceleration off the line and once in the boat.
It was my first time on the even side of the line all regatta. I positioned my boat. I cleared the drift in front of me with my spikes. I sheeted in at 80% of max and when the flag dropped I pushed with all my might. I was off and dusted the group except for one boat to leeward. I was getting close enough to the lay line so that when I tacked over I could implement another learned tip from Tomek (When coming in on port make sure to leave enough room on the starboard layline to build up speed to make for a fast windward mark rounding).
I easily crossed the bows of T, Chad, Karol Jablonski, and Tomek. And then…..the breeze stopped and the snow drift deep. I parked. I got out of my boat to push, tangled my main sheet around my foot, fell on my plank, my boat spun around as a puff came in, and it was Game Over. I was able to finish the race with some more sailing and some more pushing.
Then it was announced the Worlds were completed. Back in the pits, I learned even the best guys like T and Chad had to get out and push a few times. Several said no one had ever seen as many gold sailors pushing in a race before. It’s good to know I was not the only one that struggled to keep my boat moving through the drifts.
Overall, I accomplished my two goals of qualifying for the gold fleet and being the top female finisher overall. With this year being the 50th anniversary of the first DN worlds, it felt special to be a part of it. During the opening ceremony two sailors that participated in the first DN worlds 50 years ago were present and came back to race in this year’s event. Congratulations to Pete Johns and Hal Bowman for their 29th and 30th finishes in the Silver Fleet. Still racing hard at 80 plus years of age.
At the closing ceremony and awards Karol Jablonski, a 12-time DN world champion, spoke movingly about the camaraderie and friendships developed over his thiry-six years of racing DNs. Matt Struble this year’s Gold Fleet winner and now four-time world champion spoke about starting sailing DNs as a child in Northern Michigan and the memories of sailing with his dad and life-long friend and mentor, Ron Sherry.
DN sailing is fast and fun. The comraderie is the icing on the cake.
Onto the North Americans…
Just wanted to say thank you for your entertaining discriptions of the racing and your personal experiences.
01/30/2023 at 8:51 pm
Karen; Pete Johns was the first printer of THINK ICE, glad he is still
on the ice.
01/26/2023 at 10:12 am
Karen,What a beautifully described newsletter on your accomplishments at the DN Worlds. It took me back to 1964 at the age of 17, I won the Eastern DN championship. It is a crazy sport. Congratulations on your wins.Warren Darress Jr.
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01/25/2023 at 10:28 pm
Thanks for the post Karen I enjoy them and look forward to them
01/25/2023 at 9:04 pm