Touted as the largest inland-lake regatta west of the Mississippi, the Dillon Open returns to Lake Dillon this weekend for its 41st year. The annual U.S. Sailing-sanctioned competition typically features between 100 and 150 sailboats organized into a number of race categories.
“There are a lot of folks coming in from out of state. It really is an amazing spectacle,” Dillon Yacht Club director Scott Snyder said. “The legend of the event lives nationally.”
Snyder added that challenging conditions on the reservoir combined with the scenery surrounding Lake Dillon make it a bucket-list event for many avid sailors.
“It’s going to be crazy down here,” longtime Dillon Yacht Club member and former Open director Lisa Wildeman said.
Notable among the boats in this year’s event will be a 40-foot ocean racing sailboat usually docked in California. The boat is much larger than the typical boat on Dillon.
“It’s going to be something to see this thing on the water,” Wildeman said of the yellow sailing vessel — a Shock 40 boat named “Cita” and owned by three men from Colorado.
Ever-changing mountain weather patterns combined with the various valleys that empty into Dillon make the lake an especially challenging place to sail.
“It’s beautiful and some might say frustrating,” Synder said.
Native Summit County sailors typically have a decided advantage, Wildeman said.
“You never know which way the wind is coming from. It makes it very difficult to sail on this lake if you don’t know the winds,” she said. “It’s really fun for us as locals having local knowledge. Racers from Texas (and other places) come up here and think they’re going to win.”
She said more often than not it’s in-state boats that take the top honors.
The weekend’s events kick off Friday afternoon with registration, check-in and a welcome party. Those who aren’t members of the Dillon Yacht Club can buy guest passes for the weekend. Those include access to the private bar and restaurant, and an opportunity to check out all the club has to offer in terms of lessons and membership programs. It also affords a chance to talk with experienced sailors. Spectator boats will be available for non-sailors to get closer look at the races. Dillon marina will offer 90-minute pontoon-boat rides during the events.
Races will be held Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. with a fundraising auction and dinner party Saturday night benefiting the Dillon Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program. The dinner party will include live music and is open to the public.
More information is available at www.dillonopen.com