Dillon: Sailing away on a bluebird day | SummitDaily.com

Dillon: Sailing away on a bluebird day

Mark Fox Summit DailyThe skies over Dillon Reservoir were filled with colorful snowkites this past weekend for the 2011 Dillon Snowkite Open. The event consisted of four days of competition and freeriding with regatta style racing, long distance and freestyle.

When Frisco local Jon McCabe swept the three races in Friday’s fleet racing event at the Dillon Reservoir stop on the North American Snowkite Tour, he said he surprised even himself.

“I wanted it,” said the snowkiter of about four years. But he knew he was up against “the guys that have been beating him for two years,” who have been maneuvering on snowkites for twice to three times as long.

He expected to be a contender in last weekend’s Dillon Snowkite Open, but said “anything can happen” on the reservoir – getting tangled with others’ kites at the start, crossing the starting line too early, wind dying upon the start, even going the wrong way if the participant isn’t paying attention.

“You try not to make mistakes and have a game plan – know where to tack, where to head and how to read the wind,” he said. “You have to be in constant awareness of what the wind’s doing because it changes a lot on Dillon Reservoir. It’s one of the hardest places to sail because the wind changes so much.”

McCabe, who isn’t among the tour’s top racers overall but will travel to Utah to compete again, races on skis. There was also a professional snowboarding as well as an amateur category, he said. And there are a few other events, such as Thursday’s winduro distance race – the course leaves Dillon Marina, hits the middle of the reservoir, heads to the Breckenridge inlet, back to the middle and back to Dillon. It’s about 10 miles round-trip, Colorado Kite Force owner and North American Snowkite Tour event organizer Anton Rainold said.

Event participants came from Colorado, Puerto Rico, Russia, Utah, California and more.

“It was a diverse crowd,” McCabe said.

The freestyle segment of the tour was on Saturday, and a demo day for beginners and intermediate kiters to try training kites and test out the sport was on Sunday. McCabe said he saw folks of all ages trying out the sport – from youth to the elderly.

“It showed snowkiting off to the county,” Rainold said about the event. “The weather was unbelievable. The spectators were out in full force. I think it was an eye-opener for the Town of Dillon … what the reservoir could be used for in winter.”

The Snowkite Open has been held in Dillon the past two years and in Breckenridge for the seven years prior. Rainold teaches lessons in an inlet area of the reservoir near Breckenridge because he can groom the snow and “students don’t get lost and blow to the other side of the lake.” Though, he said, the wind is often better in Dillon.

The tour next heads to Strawberry, Utah for the Superfly Open and holds its finals the following weekend at Fairfield, Idaho’s Kite Soldiers event. Many of the athletes in this weekend’s competition travel with the tour.

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