Friday, March 12, 2010

Rough winter for ice and snow sailing

William Tuthill provides this report on the struggles of a sport that relies on the weather:

“Ain’t it always the way?” Plan an event and everything will go wrong. Not only were we forced to relocate the 30th edition of the World Ice and Snow Sailing Association's (WISSA) Ice and Snow Sailing World Championshi that was two years in the making because of ice conditions that no one had ever encountered before, but, when we did relocate from Baie des Ha! Ha! to Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean, the wind chose not to blow!

The real action was in the kite class with 19 meter and larger kites. The windsurfing and wing classes did a lot of waiting. We somehow managed to get off five races that were handily won by lightweight teenagers from Poland. Sleds with 250 cm jumping skis and large race sails have a way of gliding in the lightest of breezes.

Winter windsurfing is alive and growing. The irony of the WISSA Ice and Snow Sailing World Championships being the oldest international race in the history of windsurfing is not lost. I thought that windsurfing was a water sport!

Btw, ever heard of the Saguenay Fjord? WOW! Picture boreal forest fused with ocean water. It is one of the world's few geologic grabels [definition: a parallel set of fault lines that allow the bed rock to drop a few thousand feet]. The resulting gorge intrusion of Atlantic Ocean water into deep northern forest is hard to contemplate. Lobster, whales, codfish, and sharks in the deepest of northern forest? Walk north and you had better be ready. The next civilization you see is in Central Russia. The wilderness is pressing down everywhere. Wildcats, elk, bears, and owls are all around- roads and people are not.
It is an awesome environment for an international sailing event.

Of course, the dreaded warm weather is coming in a month early and destroying the best part of the whole season. March is usually the best with long sunny days and wicked fast ice. Instead it is raining. Bad news........

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