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 Post subject: Mille Lacs Crossing day 3
PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2003 8:11 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2002 2:42 pm
Posts: 958
Location: MN, USA, Earth
Follow The Leaders

I will investigate lodging next year at the crossing. I live in Zimmerman which is 45 miles south of the lake on highway 169. Even that short commute, done day after day, wears on a fella. On the other hand, I can't imagine trying to sleep in my vehicle in near freezing night time temps. Home, or somewhere warm, is esential not only as a safe haven to come down from the days high but also to dry your damn polar fleece and poly propolene not to mention the "dry" suit. I'll take some time next year and explore the many places up there in the crossing literature to sleep at and warm up in.

As I was driving up on Sunday I could tell that there was some wind. The trees swayed but the skies looked dank. I had to use my windshield wipers untill I reached about Onamia (spelling?) then, like magic, the rain stopped and I saw up ahead puffy white clouds and blue skies. Queue harp, roll music...

"The Simpsons..." du da da de da

Shortly after that I was able to see the lakes south shore. I suspect it was about the same place as we were trying to get to in yeasterdays race. There were nice white caps and good texture on the water. The sun was finally shining on the water so it was harder to judge what it was doing out there but it looked VERY sailable. We've sailed the last two days in the dark shadows of low hanging clouds.

I turned on the radio and jammed to Britney, Christeena and Justin. Those guys rule. I pass now familiar landmarks. Eddy's, Casino water tower, fishing shacks, wigwam bay, all the stuff you take for granted but now have a new appreciation for because there is a very real possiblity you might wash up on shore at one of these places and have to figure out where you are so you can thumb it in the right direction. `Fiddy Cent comes on the radio (I think that's his name). I turn it up more wishing my cheap stock car speakers could take it.

I'm fumbling with the map and agenda. We are suppose to meet at Garrison Beach club. I can't find it but I figure it's in garrison. I keep looking at maps and trying to drive, menacing oncoming traffic at times. "Oh you dummy" I say to myself. GARRISON BEACH! not club. I'll bet that's by the Big Walley. I rounded the corner and saw a line of cars near the water's edge. I turned the radio down so no one would be wise to the fact that I listen to KDWB. Perhaps I should have punched up MPR, rolled down the window and said "Excuse me sirs, could you please direct me to the sailboard regatta and pass the Grey Poopon if you would?" Maybe I would have got a laugh.

Everyone was out sniffing the wind and looking out to sea. It looked kind of off shore but folks that came by the south part of the lake knew there was wind out there. hehehhe. I went into the Y club and saw a bunch of racers. At one table was Randy and Ryan Johnson. For awhile we relived yesterdays mega wave session at Izatys. Mike Fox headed for the door and called a meeting in the parking lot. The secret lauch spot was revield again.

Malmo!

We were to race from there back to Garrison beach and finish infront of the Walley.

Off we dashed again to Malmo. I was like the third of fourth car in line. At about Vojta's Secret Beach, I saw the van ahead of me swereve. SKUNK! I dogged it to. It was dead but didn't look too smashed up. We got to Malmo. I saw Randy J again. We started pulling out gear from out vehicles then a strong odor came wafting over us. I thought it might have been my dry suit or other article of clothes. nope, SKUNK.

It turns out that Tim Walker hit the skunk on the way over and it got all mixed up with the front end of his vehicle. Oh man. Tim said he could barley stand it when he stopped. Tim had a really good parking spot at Malmo but was kind enough to give it up and park way downwind from everyone.

Thanks Tim!

It didn't look too windy so I rigged my biggest sail on my biggest board with the biggest fin I had. GO 150, 58cm stocker fin and 7.5M Sailworks Retro. Same setup I used yesterday. I got out and tested the water. We were told at the racers meeting that Garrison was easy to spot from the water. It looks like a big mound with 2 towers on it. Pay attention in racers meetings!!! I had no trouble seeing it. I did have trouble pointing at it however. This race was going to involve some tacks not a downwind overpowered hell ride like yesterday. You'd have to THINK on this one, not just hang on.

I'll speed things up now. My chewed up hands are getting trired of typing and your eyeballs are probably getting tired of reading.

The race start sequence was perfect. Mike Fox and Fleet 8 were ON baby. I got a nice start but had trouble getting to the windward mark in 2 tacks. It seemed like the wind had dropped a bit. I finally made it around them mark just as the good guys were getting there too. It's kind of scarey heading at the hard chargers when on starboard. You just have to hold course and let them make decisions. No colision, whew. I let them pass make another tack and flow them back towards shore, tack again and round the mark. Race On!

Most of the rest of the race was un remarkable. I noticed right away that the wind had shifted more west and not clocked more north as predicted. I could only stay on plan and point at the Casino water tower. It seemed the wind had dropped. The leaders where pointing higher than me but still not even close to the Garrion mound. After about 20 mins I decided to break off and tack. I let the leaders go, hoping and praying that the wind would clock north after I finished this tack so I could get a free ride to the finish line and greet everyone from second place on down at the finish line hhehhehe. That's how it worked out in my head. On the water it was different.

I tacked and started heading back into the fleet. I wonder what some of them thought as it must have looked like I was heading back in. Hey wait, there is somone else with the same idea. I think it was Barry Peterson with the silver helmet, North sail and blue board. Me and this guy met quite a few times on the course. We would tack, seperate for what seemed like hours, then meet up again just tens of meters apart, miles away. Who ever you were, I love you. We were RACING!

We both basically stayed upwind of the course boats. I didn't see anyone else up there. It was slow going and I tried to play windshifts to stay upwind of them. Still in my head, I would be screaming down on the finish line fully planing while all the other guys would be tacking and hopfulling shloging up to the finish line.

Finally, out there alone, I finally got tired of talking to myself and just started to enjoy the sail. What a fucking great day to sail. Blue skies, enough wind to keep planing, crisp fall like air and trees that are starting to change color. Zone.

Hey, here comes silver helment guy again, I wave to him and hang from the harness wiggling my hands to keep blood in them.

It's great to be alive and doing this. This one thing. Sailing.

I close in on the Garrison mounds. I see the two orange bouys. I see that the wind is almost dirctly off shore. I see a nightmare infront of me. Guys on longboards with centerboards fully extended. hehehe. OK, i've been here before. In fact I practiced earlier in the week by sailpumping in almost no wind to Waconia's Coney Ilsand and back.

I pump my sail with vigour as I sail back and forth by the finish line. ahhhhhgggg!! I think I heard the Big Walley laughing at me! Sorry for my foul mouth guys and gals. I couldn't get in. ahhhhgggg! finally the wind gods had taught me enough for the day and gave me a little push. I crossed the finish line.

What an experience. I wonder what it would have been like if I followed the leaders. Those guys did somthing right as they finished over an hour ahead of where I did. Unreal. I've got to steal their playbook. I'm going to follow next time and see if I can rise to the challenge, Minnesota's Ultimate Challenge.

Thanks to everyone up there that made this a weekend for me to remember.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2003 9:24 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2002 4:43 pm
Posts: 1254
Thanks very much for the daily reports, Eric! I really enjoyed reading them. They brought back memories of some of the ups and downs of the Crossing. I gave up on the event because there are just too many uncertainties involved. I think I tried for 3 straight years, and only managed to pull off 1 legitimate crossing. Glad all the stars lined up for everyone on Sunday.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2003 10:09 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2002 11:32 am
Posts: 517
Location: Plymouth, MN
Yup, it was me.

I recognized you right away coming back on your 1st tack - yellow sail, & a pinkie (why did they have to pick THAT color?). Had it been anyone else it would have been more beliveable that someone was just throwing in the towel and headed back to the near shore. I took a good look... I couldn't spot any broken gear and soon figured out what you had realized.

It was fun out there racing with you. At times I couldn't even spot you anymore, and then a little later - Hey! There he is again!

I've really enjoyed your daily recaps.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2003 7:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2002 2:42 pm
Posts: 958
Location: MN, USA, Earth
thanks guys, it was alot of fun writing them. I just started with a blank computer screen, added coffee and my fingers kept typing. I did embellish most of them with fabrications so reader beware.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2003 12:11 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 04, 2002 9:42 pm
Posts: 57
Location: Worldwide
I have to thank you Eric, for the posts and the major karma points when you gave me a ride from Garrison beach back to Malmo to get my van and gear! Since I was so late in getting back off the lake, and not even thinking before hand to set up a return trip to Malmo, I was the last guy standing around in my wet drysuit, just missed the last ride back to malmo, and up pulls Eric in his single seater van! Eric was more than willing to push some gear aside, and let me in, and make the long drive over to drop me off at the van! Thanks again! I owe you bigtime!

Even though it was a tough one for me to get upwind, I'm so glad I finnally made it accross, after 5 years in a row trying! I do agree, The splendor of the lake on a beautifull fall day is salve on the frustration of uncooperative wind. I too felt the calm of just enjoying the moment with the earth and it's elements. Several times I sang for wind, and sometimes she would blow in response. It seemed to work anyway, as I thought I would be very lucky to even make it accross, since I could not point uwind for crap. (see map in my previous post.) At one point one of the support boats asked if I was gonna hang it up, as I was 1 mile downwind, and three miles behind the fleet. I couldn't give up. I was more than halfway accross, and this year I HAD to make it! "I'm alright, I'll keep going" was my response. "OK" was his reply, and I tacked to gain some more upwind.
As I entered the bay south of the beach, my singing again paid off, and I got some decent wind, and made alot of headway upwind on a long tack. This pushed me out of the southern bay, and up to the Garrison bay, I was frustrated to see the finish line, but still kept comming in too far south, even after several tacks. Finally I just settled for tack upon tack, gaining a few yards upwind each time, to get upwind enough to sail it thru the floats! What a rush! I felt it was truly an ultimate challenge! I can hardly wait for next year! Special thanks to the gentleman who gave me some superglue, to reattach my footstrap insert back into my board after Saturdays winds popped it out. (I think your name is Chris, sorry I can't remember, my brain was fried after the day, and your name was deleted from the gray matter.) This made my crossing possible, as I could not have made it without my front strap. Plenty of Karma points for you! Thanks Again! And thanks to all who made this a very excellent experience!


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