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1996 North American DN Championship

February 11, 1996 to February 12, 1996

After a false start because of a downpour of rain on Thursday, the North American's were moved from Detroit, Michigan to Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday, February 10th. On Saturday evening, about 1/2 inch of snow fell. To the racers on Sunday, it gave the sensation that you were not moving very fast, when you actually were. Four races were held for both Gold and Silver fleet. Racing on Monday was cancelled due to extremely cold temperatures and winds out of the NW at 15 to 25 mph.

We started out believing the 1996 North American Championship Regatta would be sailed on the same piece of ice we had been practicing on for eight weeks straight - Anchor Bay at the north end of Lake St. Clair near Detroit Michigan. As registration opened on Thursday evening, the rains poured on what had been 18" of great ice for the last two months. The plan called for a small amount of "zamboni" action. The area received far too much rain. On Friday as the fleet practiced on the racing area, it became apparent the rain had caused too much damage. The forecast was for warmer temperatures the next day so off we drove Saturday morning (2/10) to Burlington Vermont to sail on Mallets Bay, Lake Champlain.

Day One
Racing began Sunday morning. What a great morning it was! Temperature in the low 30's and a beautiful breeze took us out to the middle of a hugh piece of near-perfect ice. It had snowed maybe one half inch the night before which gave off an interesting sensation that you were not moving very fast. Even though you were smoking along at warp, the snow cover took away the sensation of speed. You did not feel how fast you were going until you crossed tacks with someone or met an upwind/downwind situation. We were flying!

The wind decided to take a break at start time (10am) so everyone had a chance to make final adjustments and visit with their friends. The wind filled in after and hour or two and we were lined up in a good breeze that appeared to be steadying out for the day.

Race one
I stood on the starting line in the #14 spot on the left side of the course. My thoughts centered on the confidence I had developed racing with the Michigan crowd over the past two months. With more than 50 races and many hours of sailing during that period, I felt really good about my potential. The wind was in the low teens and the course was a good long mile of near-perfect ice with the dusting of wet snow. I had a good start and got up to speed quickly. I rounded 4th behind Paul Goodwin (4061), Ron Sherry (44) and Chip Cartwright (118). The race progressed with myself, Sherry and Cartwright trading places. Paul Goodwin performed the only true horizon job of the regatta. At the finish it was Goodwin first by a bunch, Sherry second, Van Wagnen third, Cartwright fourth and Jan Gougeon (1183) fifth.

Race two
I started in the three spot below Sherry and above Gougeon. The wind was building and the day was panning out to be a classic iceboat racing day. Good breeze, great ice, and a large course to stretch out on. I concentrated on having a good start and getting the boat up to warp as soon as possible. I was becoming more confident with my starting ability. I confirmed that confidence when we started and Sherry could not roll me with his near flawless starting ability. I was also able to slowly grind over Gougeon who may have been being held a bit high by the next sailor down the line. I held right and tacked at the starboard layline. At the first weather mark is was Sherry first, Cartwright second, Mike O'Brien (3456) third with Danny Connell (1630) and myself overlapped in fourth and fifth. O'Brien and Cartwright traded places rolling each other off to the right side of the downwind leg. I jibed early into a puff that carried me down to the leeward mark and into second behind Sherry. Cartwright ground me down on the next lap and we finished in that order. Sherry first, Cartwright second, Van Wagnen third, Connell fourth and O'Brien fifth.

Race three
Bigger wind! What an excellent day! My confidence continued to build. I started below Sherry and above O'brien in the number three spot, concentrating on a smooth start. It worked again as I was able to keep Sherry off my windward shoulder and sail high enough to keep to weather of O'Brien and the rest of the line up. My boat speed was excellent and I was beginning to feel I could point just a bit higher than anyone around me. This was a pleasant surprise compliments of a slight sail shape adjustment Skip Boston had made for the fiberglass mast group. The left side came into the weather mark better and I rounded about ninth coming in on the starboard layline over stood in what was the biggest wind of the day (puffs to maybe 18-22) eased out and flying low. I decided not to follow the crowd off to the right downwind so I jibed back into the puff which carried me almost directly back to the leeward mark. I felt the puff let up about 2/3's of the way down the leg so I jibed back and found myself in second behind Cartwright at the first leeward mark. Cartwright led this one wire to wire. I was second followed by Connell in third, O'Brien fourth and Eric Loenneke (338) fifth. At this point Cartwright led the regatta with a 4-2-1. I was 1/4 point back with a 3-3-2. Sherry and Goodwin did not recover from the teens in this race which gave Cartwright and myself a small cushion going into the fourth race.

Race four
I was standing in a starting spot I never stood in at a North American Championship. I was 1/4 point from the lead and the wind was going light. Oh No! I've got my "full metal jacket" heavy inserts on all the way around and my plank is one hole forward of where I set it for light air. There was still a sailing breeze but it was nowhere near the velocity we had enjoyed earlier. I pulled my halyard up inch (mostly for my head) and started left with O'brien below. Mike held me off as we got up to speed but I was happy to see not much had changed. I was sailing pretty evenly with him the first couple of minutes. I tacked to port and as I picked up speed and a lifting puff I noticed the right side must not have had good breeze. Our side was clearly ahead. I rounded first without a clue as to who was behind me (I knew O'Brien was there but not sure who else). I carried off to the right and got lifted. When I jibed back to the middle, I found Jeff Kent had passed me by using the same puff area I used in the third race. On the second lap we traded tacks. I came out on top at the second weather mark only to carry off to the right again and have Kent pass me again by using the left side puff. My speed and pointing were good and I was able to sneak by Kent at the third weather mark. This time down I realized I needed to cover the middle so I jibed back to the center. It worked and when I jibed again for the finish line there was no one in sight to my right. I had just won my first race in a major DN event. The top five rounded out with Cartwright second, Sherry third, Kent fourth and Gary Knapp (4628) fifth.

Day two
The forecast was for temperatures to fall into single digits and the wind NW 15-25mph with higher gusts. By 9am the temperature was 3 to 5 degrees and the wind was definitely up. Race Chairman Bill Van Gee deemed "by the powers vested in me, this regatta is complete". By using the tie breaker system to separate my nine points from Chip Cartwright's nine points, I had won my first major iceboat event since I began racing DNs in 1968/69.

Special thanks to my father Bob Van Wagnen who was an active DN sailor until about 1973 and who introduced me to iceboating in 1968. Also to my wife Maureen and son Greg for allowing me the freedom to "follow the ice" all winter. To Ron Sherry and the Michigan crowd for providing great tuning sessions. And to my teammates and traveling companions Dennis Butts (3868), Nick Vitale (1006), Scott Root (738), and Dick Parker (4738) for their support and for helping take some of the administrative load off during registration. Thank you all!

by Ken Van Wagnen US4111


Mallets Bay, Lake Champlain
United States

1996 North American DN Championship Results

Gold Fleet

PosSailGold Fleet SkipperSecR1R2R3R4Points
1US4111Ken Van Wagnen3 3 2 1 9.00
2US118Cliff Cartwright4 2 1 2 9.00
3US44Ronald J Sherry2 1 13 3 19.00
4US4230Peter B Hill13 11 6 6 36.00
5US1183Jan C Gougeon Senior5 16 7 9 37.00
6US1630Danny Connell11 4 3 20 38.00
7US4061Paul Goodwin1 9 16 13 39.00
8US4009Don C Brush6 22 9 10 47.00
9US338Eric J Loenneke17 8 5 18 48.00
10US4628Gary Knapp20 12 14 5 51.00
11US3456Mike Obrien35 5 4 7 51.00
12US4055Bob Struble Senior10 6 11 25 52.00
13US4732Todd A Gamble9 7 12 26 54.00
14US882Meade A Gougeon Senior18 13 8 17 56.00
15US3535Jeffrey S Kent8 15 30 4 57.00
16US4619Richard Saltonstall16 18 17 8 59.00
17US294Lou Loenneke Senior14 29 10 12 65.00
18US4581Scott Carlson19 14 15 22 70.00
19US3868Dennis G Butts7 25 28 11 71.00
20US2360Pete Johns Senior25 17 22 19 83.00
21US4315Scott M Mcdowell23 10 20 33 86.00
22US3700Richard Clark Senior12 DNF24 16 89.00
23US4789Chris L Clark29 20 18 23 90.00
24US45J. Wendell Sherry Senior21 27 31 14 93.00
25US4032Robert V Schumacher22 28 29 15 94.00
26US3283J Bruce Williams Senior15 24 33 24 96.00
27US4099William Condon30 23 25 21 99.00
28US3904Robert Dill31 21 19 30 101.00
29US4542Donald J Coe32 19 23 32 106.00
30KC4360Andre Baby Senior24 31 27 28 110.00
31US4244Dave Terwilliger27 30 32 29 118.00
32US4110John L Milbank33 26 26 35 120.00
33US4340Jay Spalding36 33 21 31 121.00
34US3271Mike Jankowski26 DNFDNS27 127.00
35US1854Robert J Thiessen Master34 32 DNF34 137.00
36US4387Charlie Blair28 DNSDNSDNS139.00

Silver Fleet

PosSailSilver Fleet SkipperSecR1R2R3R4Points
1US4626Paul Gervais1 5 2 1 9.00
2US2301Daniel F Bierman3 1 3 3 10.00
3US4949Steven Schmitt2 4 4 4 14.00
4US4695Mark Kiefer5 2 1 9 17.00
6US4699John I Harlow4 6 7 7 24.00
7US641Jeff Kirchhoff6 12 10 8 36.00
8US3042Sheldon Abrams Master9 8 9 12 38.00
9US4212Brian W Haumersen7 9 13 15 44.00
10US4897Ronald Saccardo Jr10 17 8 13 48.00
11US4762Matthew C MccauleyDNS10 6 5 50.00
12US2630Jim Jonah14 15 18 10 57.00
13US4102Jeff HillDNS7 11 11 58.00
14US4411Robert A Munsell13 20 15 14 62.00
15US3852D Kenneth Johnsen Master15 13 17 17 62.00
16US4417Irene M Gonin18 DNF14 2 63.00
17US4080Richard H Price Master12 11 16 24 63.00
18US1006Nick R Vitale11 14 12 DNF66.00
19US1925Leo A Healy Master17 19 19 19 74.00
20US4770Curtis L Etzel16 18 20 20 74.00
21KC4992Jacques Charbonneau22 16 21 18 77.00
22US4621David A Koshiol19 21 23 16 79.00
23US800Reuben P Snodgrass Master21 24 22 22 89.00
24US3931Frederick W Krause Jr SeniorDNF22 24 21 96.00
25US4447Stephen A Laurent Senior23 26 25 23 97.00
26US3987David E Burnham20 23 26 DNS98.00
27US4512Stephen D Madden24 25 27 DNS105.00
28US3720Mike Tolley MasterDNSDNSDNSDNS116.00