Race Director Bruce Nowak at the skippers meeting

Clark Lake was the focal point for sailors competing in the Clark Lake Yacht Club Fall Regatta today (Saturday, 9/24/16).  Participants from the United States and Canada gathered for this annual event that runs Saturday and Sunday.  Twenty-eight boats readied for action for the starting horn, slightly before 1 pm.

Competitors are grouped by class. The classes competing today included Wafarers, Buccaneers, Rebels, and Sunfish.  Each class starts separately on a course determined by the race committee and its director, Bruce Nowak.  Yellow inflatables tell the competitors when to head in a new direction.

The weather cooperated.  Given Clark Lake’s shape, either an easterly or westerly wind is best here.  The lake is narrower north to south, so the wind doesn’t have as much room to help sailors gain momentum.  Today the wind was mostly easterly.  That, and the sun, helped enhance the racing experience.


Tense moments come right before the race director blows the horn that starts each class on its way.  Unlike sprinters or cars at a starting line, the boats are totally dependent on wind which has a mind of its own.  Sailors maneuver back and forth in advance of the start–and time it so they can judge when to head to the starting line.  It’s difficult to make up the time lost if your boat arrives later than others.  As the boats arrive at the starting buoy, they are typically just inches a part.  It’s not unheard of to witness a collision.  What may be heard are words not found in the dictionary.  The photo above shows how this plays out.

dsc_0772_934When the wind is coming from behind, the boat is sailing before the wind.  The mainsail is let out fully in one direction, and the jib, in the other.  Some boats, like Wayfarers, have spinnakers.  More than adding color to the race, they help catch more wind to increase speed.


Competition continues tomorrow.  The skipper meeting takes place at 9 am, the thirty minute warning at 9:30, and the first race, at 10 am.

Here’s the map used to plot locations for the race course. The numbers tell sailors where they will find the mark numbers (1 thru 8).



Awards will be given out after the final race on Sunday.  Please check back with this website for results and more photos.