Smooth sailing on Clear Lake

Learning about sailing

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa – Outdoor activities are typically at the mercy of the weather, but sailing regattas are among the most weather sensitive outdoor sports.

Just a little over a month ago, a strong storm system developed over Lake Minnetonka and had a major impact on a popular sailing regatta. Dozens of participants went into the water and the strong wings capsized nearly every boat in the race.

Regattas are an outlet for many experienced sailors, but even experience can’t stand up against unruly weather. Thankfully, a race in Clear Lake on Sunday was not jeopardized by rain or wind, and it was a picture perfect day to set sail.

Jonathan Martin was one of the dozens of sailors participating in the race, and even though he has been skippering rigs since he was nine, the crowd of a major race can still be a little intimidating.

“There are a lot of boats out there,” Martin says, “We had some close calls today, but everybody knows how to sail, so they managed to stay away from each other.” He also says that he puts his trust in the other sailors to know the right-of-ways and other sailing tactics that help you safely navigate through a course.

Many of these tactics can be self-explanatory, but most of them have to be learned on land. Denni Sue Erickson is no stranger to land lessons, because at one point or another, she has put all of her children through the Clear Lake Yacht Club sailing school.

“Sailing is about the conditions of the wind,” she explains, “Every time you’re on the water, it’s different, and there are no days that are alike. Teaching younger sailors how to adapt is crucial for safety on the water.” Denni tells us that a perfect wind for sailing would be between ten and 12 miles per hour, and that races are usually cancelled if gusts get anywhere above 23 miles per hour.

The winds for Sunday’s Inter Lakes Regatta on Clear Lake were steady at around 5 miles per hour, which is a little lighter than preferred, but since the race draws age groups ranging anywhere 6 to 60, this calmer day only led to smoother sailing.

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