Karl Lanka wins Polar Bear Regatta
Twenty Sailors from 6 states competed in the 54th annual Lake Davenport Sailing Club’s Polar Bear Regatta (PBR) over the weekend. With temperatures in the mid-seventies, however, it didn’t feel very “Polar.” Apart from the temperatures, conditions included: light air, strong current, wonderful hospitality, excellent food, free beverages, and a marathon.
Saturday’s east wind set up for windward (upstream) and leeward (downstream). Despite light breeze, the river was flowing the same speed, and no ripples could be seen on the water. The first sailors to launch proved that progress upstream and upwind – although tenuous – was possible, and the rest of the fleet launched for the first race.
The course was an L2. Off the line, the fleet took a port to the Illinois shore and began the longest upwind of the season. It was clear early on that any further than 30 yards offshore meant no progress toward the windward mark, and the lead boats began tacking back and forth to stay in the slower current. The lead changed a few times, but A-22, LD-9, T-17, SL-68, C-10, and MO-6 battled for position.
When enough progress was thought to be made, the lead boats broke from the shore toward the mark. Misjudging this trek to the Iowa side, proved costly if misjudged, or if the wind died. Many boats missed the mark on their first attempt (or second), and ended up taking a 30-40 minute tack back to the Illinois shore to try again.
SL-68 and LD-9, and LF-88 all made it around in their first attempt, finishing 1, 2, and 3. After that was C-10, and MO-6 to round out the top 5.
The wind built slightly in the afternoon. Ripples could be seen on the water, direction had shifted to the south slightly, but still set up for a windward leeward up and down-stream. Off the line many boats took the port to the Illinois shore, but those that got too close fell into a bottom-less pit of a hole. A-22 tacked out and were able to sail up the center of the river leading about 75% of the leg, until the breeze shut off.
That’s when the guys in the hole moved up the Illinois shore from dead-last to catch the leaders. It was SL-68 again first at the windward mark, followed closely by a pack containing A-22, T-17, MO-6, LF-88, LD-100, E-111, LS-10, LD-5 . On the downwind, the pack bunched up looking for any way to get an edge. The breeze and current both coming from behind made this a challenge. In the end,SL-68 maintained his lead and E-111 sailed low toward the Iowa shore to move around the pack for second. T-17, LD-5 and A-22 rounded out the top five. Places 1 through 11 all finished within 20 seconds of each other.
After the race the wind died and shifted 90 degrees. The RC tried their best to get a race going, but with little cooperation from Mother Nature racing was called off for the day. At dinner, sailors were treated to a Caribbean-themed meal, conch-blowing, live music, and complimentary beverages.
There was not a breath of wind on Sunday, so sailors ate breakfast, drank coffee, and cheered marathon runners as they streamed past the club. At 10am, the day’s races were called off.
With a perfect 2 for 2 record for the weekend, Karl Lanka with crew Shane Good were given their first-place Polar Bear trophies. It is safe to say this regatta was a unique test, and Karl aced-it. Congratulations to the SL-68 team.
Congratulations also, to the LDSC. This event is and always has been a memorable experience. Your welcoming demeanor, comfortable club, delicious food, competitive sailing, great stories, and good company keep people coming back. See you next year!
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