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Ice sailors from around the world race on Lake Charlevoix

Ice sailors from around the world race on Lake Charlevoix

CHARLEVOIX COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Almost 100 ice sailors from around the world have converged on Lake Charlevoix for a North American championship race.

“It’s exhilarating, is the first word that comes to mind," said James Thieler, a sailor from Newport, Rhode Island.

“Lots of people love it, especially the people who are here right now," said Robbie Evans, who lives from Minnesota.

The date of the race is set far in advance, but racers are sometimes only given a couple of days' notice of where the race will be.

“Everybody’s a gypsy," said John Russel from the Grand Traverse Ice Yacht Club. "Some of our foreign people are probably sitting in Chicago somewhere in a hotel trying to figure out if they’re going to Vermont, Illinois or Maine. You have no idea where you’re going until three days before the race. When they say the best ice is Lake Charlevoix, Boyne City, the races are on.”

This year, the best ice to sail on is on Lake Charlevoix.

“You’re stuffing the van, your car loaded up, gassed up so you’re just ready to roll at a moment’s notice," Thieler said.

Thursday brought light wind, but there was enough by the end of the day to finish one race.

While the DN ice boats looked fast on Thursday, on a windier day, they can glide across the ice at speeds faster than 60 miles per hour.

“It really is a lot of fun," Thieler said. "Normal sailboats go kind of slow and they kind of plot along and that’s all well and good, but these things take off like a motorcycle or a dragster in comparison. So, if you’re into sailing, this is it.”

The racing will go into Friday and possibly Saturday.

There needs to be at least three races for a complete regatta.

The name of the "DN" ice boat stands for Detroit News.

It was designed in the basement of the Detroit News in the 1930's and now it's sailed around the world.


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