Time to set sail

Alpena will play host to the 2014 Yngling North American Championships this weekend, as about two dozen sail boats will complete for three days to earn the coveted championship title.

The event cycles among locations in Iowa, Minnesota, Alpena and Rhode Island and is held every four years. The sailboats, which were designed in the 1960s are popular because of their handling and ability to handle choppy seas.

Pete Wilson, who is involved with the competition, said the boats may not be as swift as newer crafts, which are made of lighter materials, but lend themselves well to those operating them and to Thunder Bay.

“A Yngling is a 21-foot, keeled boat that can be operated with two or three people and is considered an advanced type craft,” Wilson said. “They have a heavy keel which provides stability. They can handle a sea breeze and larger waves really well and don’t tip over easily, but they are nimble and light compared to many keeled crafts. “

Wilson said the crews on the boats will be tackling a windward lured leg styled course, which could change frequently depending on the weather of conditions of Thunder Bay.

“The windward lured legs have the boats heading into the wind, making a pointed turn and then returning with the wind,” Wilson said. “The course is set of differently for each race. It is reset to maintain its configuration depending on the wind direction.”

The competitors will prepare their crafts at the boat harbor in Alpena and then will sail where people can watch the races from the shore. Wilson said wind will again determine where the boats will navigate their course.

“I would think the breakwall would be an excellent place to view the event, as most of the races will be held right in front,” Wilson said. “The wind directions and speed will determine how close to the shore they will race, but if you have a set of binoculars you should be able to get a very good view of what is going on. You should also be able to see the race with the naked eye.”

Wilson said teams from all four of the host cities and states will be in Alpena and the competition is fierce. He said Alpena stacks up well against the competition because of the hard work and training that is done during the sailing season.

“We have about a 12-boat fleet in Alpena and we race every Wednesday and Sunday during the summer,” Wilson said. “Fore the championship we expect maybe 20 or more boats and a champion will be crowned. This is the fifth time the championship event has been held and Alpena and it should be a lot of fun.”

The local boats registered for the races include: Anniversary with skipper Mark Upham and crew Ben Diamond and Phil Hartmeyer; Surprise with skipper Steve Wilson and crew Pete Wilson and Erin Wilson; Iris Too with skipper Steve Fletcher and crew Hannah Thayer and Chris McCoy; Whisper with skipper Walt Jacquemin and crew Joe Jacquemin and Aaron Diamond; Taboo with skipper Tim Rumbles and crew Anna Rumbles and Evan Thayer; Shenanigan with skipper Ed Kavanaugh and crew Jean Bauer and Kelly Lake; Happy with skipper Gregg Resnick and crew David Resnick and Yuko Fellows; Pandora’s Box with skipper Wayne Lewis and crew Chad Lewis and Tim Wedge; Shar-Bear with skipper Jere Johnston and crew Sharon Pilarski and Julie Dietz; Bones with skipper Eric Cornish, crew Kent Stafford and Bryan Dort and Rings with skipper Pete Simpson and crew Eric Smith.

The races begin each day at 10 a.m.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com