Expect close to 100 boats to set sail this weekend, as the 40th annual Dillon Open Regatta gets underway.
“Come down, grab a piece of the shoreline and binoculars,” said Erik Dyce, chairman of the regatta. “We fact-checked, it’s the highest regatta in the world.”
But altitude isn’t the biggest challenge. Other than the sheer number of competitors, who are divided into boat classes and age groups, it’s the winds of the high Rockies that will be testing these skippers. Sailing on Lake Dillon is said to be especially difficult because of the constantly changing wind patterns.
“It’s temperamental,” said youth sailing director Vickie Ragle. “You just don’t know what she’s going to throw at you.”
Dyce said the Regatta is the largest inland lake competition west of the Mississippi. The event attracts a number of sailors from the Front Range and other parts of the country.
Still, Ragle said the difficult conditions may deter those less experienced. “I think Dillon is a little scary to some people.”
“It takes a special person to race on Lake Dillon,” Dyce said. “The winds are swirling around in all directions.”
The weekend event kicks 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 for $20. That includes 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. For $25 non-members can get the weekend guest pass plus a closer look at the races with a 90-minute pontoon-boat ride during the events.
Races will be held Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Youth races are Saturday only; adult races will be run both days.
“We can get in as many as five races a day,” Dyce said.
The racers range in age, starting with the junior sailing club members. “I think our oldest registrant is 83,” Dyce said.
Saturday night will feature a fundraising auction and Caribbean buffet dinner. Proceeds from the auction benefit the Dillon Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program. The dinner and party, which will have live music, is open to the public for $35 a plate, or $60 per couple.
More information is at www.dillonopen.com