Get Outdoors: Duluth Sailboat Races

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The summertime is winding down but the race to be the fastest sailboat in the Ports is heating up. In this weeks Get Outdoors, Meteorologist Adam Lorch heads out on the water with the race fleet to see what it takes to win in the weekly sailboat races.

Every Wednesday night in the summer months, dozens of sailboats of all sizes compete in a race on Lake Superior. Crew member Lars Benson, explained to me how the race works.
Lars Benson, the Tactition-Papa Gaucho, said “We’ll sail up wind to a mark. We will turn downwind from there and go to a downwind Mark, and then go back to the upland Mark and then finish going down wind.”

With so many boats of different makes and sizes, the race is split up into separate classes.
“There’s about 35 boats that usually come out every Wednesday. And they are mostly all different. So the way they break it down is into five different classes based on your boats speed.” said Benson.
The boat I was on, the Papa Gaucho, was one of the bigger boats in the fleet and is in the ‘A’ Class.
As a greenhorn on deck, I was given the important task of ballast.
Benson, explains “We want to be able to balance the boat the best we can. So one of the things that we will be doing is trying to be on the high side of the boat. Because when we go up wind the boat will be tipping over. So we can counteract that by getting on the high side and keeping our weight in the right spot.”
When heading up wind it was my job to crawl under the boom while we tack, or pivot, and get to the side that would be pushed out of the water. Basically, I was a moving weight to help stabilize the boat.
The race took about an hour and a half and we ended as the third boat across the finish.
Nel Stauber, Crew Papa Gaucho, said “I’d say we did pretty well. We got in front of The boats that we needed to be in front of A lot of the boats that we were behind we’re actually rated faster than us.”

It was clear to me that everyone on board was both competitive, and had a strong passion for the sport of sailing.

Benson said, “I love being out on the water, I love being out on the boat. But then also the crew work and the camaraderie and being out here and racing as well as the competition are kind of the three things that I enjoy about racing.”

Meteorologist Adam Lorch

Meteorologist Adam Lorch

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