Jim Daus was cruising at a rare 15 knots Thursday, Aug. 7, on Lake Dillon when his Buccaneer 18-foot sailboat was capsized by a sudden microburst.
Daus was leading the pack during Thursday’s round of competition in the Buccaneer 18 North American Championship Regatta at Lake Dillon. The unexpected burst of wind, which some estimated at 40 knots, flipped a total of 13 boats and sent 26 competitors into the chilly water of Dillon Reservoir.
“It’s normal. This happens in sailing,” Daus said. “Luckily, this is a group of experienced sailors and we’re prepared for it. It’s not so normal to have so many boats go over at once.”
The microburst occurred at about 5:30 p.m., said Steve Lipsher, public information officer for Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue. Thanks to the efforts of competitors and Dillon Marina staff, it took just minutes to get everyone out of the water. Within two hours all of the boats were recovered.
“There were no injuries and no one required transport to the hospital,” Lipsher said. “All we really had to do was just warm them up, dry them off and send them on their way.”
Although capsized boats are common to the sport of sailing, Lipsher said Lake Dillon firefighters rarely respond to such emergencies. It’s not that boats don’t capsize on Dillon, he said. Calls are few and far between because sailors have a reputation of being self-sufficient.
“Dillon is a tricky place to sail, but more often than not sailors either rescue themselves or other boaters come to their aid,” Lipsher said. “That was the case here. There were already a lot of people on the water who were able to respond faster than any of our public safety agencies.”
In addition to boaters and marina staff, the Dillon Police Department, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue, sheriff’s office, Summit County Rescue Group, Summit Dive Rescue and Summit County Ambulance responded to the call.