Beginning today budding local sailors will launch onto Lake Dillon for the Junior Olympic Sailing Festival at Frisco Bay Marina.
The U.S. Sailing event, now in its second year at Lake Dillon, brings together young sailors and coaches for three days of instruction and races, and is touted as the Junior Olympics’ highest regatta.
Sponsored by the Dillon Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program and hosted by the Frisco Bay Marina, the event will include sailors 8 to 21 years of age from Colorado, Montana, Iowa, Indiana and possibly Idaho. The skippers will captain boats in five fleet categories, including C420s, Lasers, Laser Radials, Optimists and Sunfish. At press time 24 boats were registered for the race.
Vickie Ragle, regatta chairwoman and director of the Dillon Yacht Club Junior Sailing program, said the event was born from a sequence of exceptional circumstances.
In 2011, two sailors enrolled in the local junior sailing program were Colorado junior sailing champions and wanted to attend a Junior Olympic sailing event. The only one that worked with everyone’s schedule was being held in San Diego.
“I took three teams down and the San Diego folks were amazed,” Ragle said. “They couldn’t believe there was sailing in Colorado.”
Ragle teamed up with a U.S. Sailing official and less than a year later the country’s only small inland lake competition was born.
Although Frisco Bay Marina is serving as a partner and host site for the competitors, marina manager Phil Hofer said much of the on-water instruction and all of the races will take place in Giberson Bay, making the Giberson Bay day use area off Dillon Dam Road the ideal spot for shoreline spectators. Spectator pontoon boat rides also are available for $10 for two hours. Spectator boats depart from Frisco Bay Marina at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., Hofer said.
Junior Olympic sailing events have been sponsored since 1997 by U.S. Sailing, Ragle said. The organization’s goal is to develop future Olympic-level sailors.