Dillon hosts world’s highest sailing regatta | SummitDaily.com

Dillon hosts world’s highest sailing regatta

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

DILLON ” For the 35th year, the world’s highest sailing regatta will take place on the Dillon Reservoir, as sailors from across the world travel to Summit County to compete at the Alpine Bank Dillon Open on Saturday.

“It is very unique compared to any other races that are held in other parts of the country,” Vivian Keesling, secretary of the Dillon Yacht Club, said. “Just the altitude and with the surrounding mountains, it is a whole different experience.”

The race, officially held at 9,017 feet of elevation, will begin with its opening ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, with the start for the races slated for noon.

In the past, sailors have traveled from as far as Bermuda, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Hawaii and Peru to compete.

Where ever the sailors are coming in from, it would be doubtful that they have faced similar conditions to what they will be seeing this weekend.

Scott Snyder, who in the past has served as vice commodore of the yacht club, understands the conditions as well as anyone, as he has participated in the regatta for the past 12 years.

“It is so tricky to sail here,” he said. “The wind can come in from all over because of the Continental Divide. You have to be on your toes the whole time. The wind can go from five knots to 30 knots in a heart beat.”

The challenging conditions, Keesling said, is one reason that the Rocky Mountain region’s largest regatta draws so many top-tier racers.

“Sailors want the challenge,” Keesling said. “It gives you something different, something that would be unique to this race.”

The race is run by the yacht club and has two different courses, one for keelboat racers and another for centerboard.

The teams are divided into categories called one-design fleets. Each fleet consists of five or more like boats. For example, if there are five or more J24-style boats signed up for the race, then they will be a fleet. The amount of fleets will not be determined until registration closes Saturday morning. Common fleets are the J24, J22, Ensign, Star, Etchells and Ultimate 20.

Snyder’s squad will be competing in the Etchells fleet.

“I am looking forward to a great race,” Snyder said. “It is really a challenge to see that many boats on the water at once. You have to focus on your own racing while also paying attention to everyone else around you.”

In the past, the Dillon Open has had more than 100 teams sign up.

As of Thursday afternoon, at least 86 teams had preregistered for the regatta, and Keesling expects many more to join the ranks by Saturday.

Each boat generally takes between three and five people for the crew, depending on the type of boat.

With so many people coming to Summit County for the race, the Dillon Open also has many attractions off the water.

“Between the food, live music and everything else that will be going on, it is really the biggest party of the summer on Lake Dillon. Once you’re off the lake, that is,” Snyder said. “It is really a destination for the weekend and a fun chance to catch up with people from out of town.”

Registration for the Dillon Open is available online at http://www.dillonopen.com or at the Dillon Yacht Club beginning at 5 p.m. today.

Bryce Evans can be reached at (970)668-4634 or at bevans@


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