Friday, 30.11.2012


In the morning at breakfast, we met other ice sailors staying at the same place near the lake, among them young “Ice Optis” and their parents. Ice Opti is a youth category for Optimists on Ice. They have smaller hulls and simply take the sails from their standard Optimist. Daniel’s son Frankie would also race on one of them. Daniel acts as a coach for these young sailors trying to attract youth to ice yachting.

Even a team of German sailors arrived. A message came that the group of Ron Sherry from Detroit had broken a trailer axle. They were still a seven-hour drive away. Training races were planned for the day; unfortunately the Detroiters would not make it.

We arrived at Lake Pelican. The countryside around was wavy like a sea – full of rolling hills hiding loads of small or large lakes between them. Yes, this is a prairie. Tens of thousands of buffalo used to roam all around here. The lake welcomed us with perfectly smooth ice and a wind of around 5 m/s. It could not be better. I used to devour books about Red Indians as a small boy. At that time I would never ever have dreamt that one day I would sail through a prairie on an ice yacht.

About 50 of us gathered on the ice. Training races were arranged, each of them consisting of two laps. I was rather struggling with the borrowed yacht. The first day is always the worst. All my gear was very good but my body had got out of shape in the summer. My neck hurt like hell, I could not keep my head up after half an hour even though I had a rubber band on my helmet to help me. My arm that was to control the lines would not pull. Even my abdominal muscles refused to obey me after a time. I had to give up one of the training races due to not being able the keep my head up any longer. How on earth did I do it last year?

We fell into our beds like collapsing ruins. My eyes were burning. During the day, my dioptric glasses behind the ski goggles kept fogging up, so I threw the goggles away. And that was the burning in the evening. And the neck pain. And the abdominal muscles on strike… And on top of this, wanting to sail around a parked boat during the day, I skidded and nearly “broke into” it. Luckily I managed to avoid it at the last moment and sailed through the reeds instead. Yet I was still calling myself names for such a stupid idea. As this day had been such a disaster, what would tomorrow bring?