Sailors survive Dillon Open |

Sailors survive Dillon Open

DILLON – The normally distinct line between sailing and wrestling blurred Sunday at the 2003 Dillon Open, when gale-force winds pinned sailboats sideways against the water during the final regatta race of the four-part weekend event.

Close to 100 boats and their crews from throughout the region turned out for the Dillon Open this weekend. But few were prepared for the torrential rain and wind that toppled many sails and left many sailors swimming during the final race Sunday afternoon.

“It was a really sudden wind coming in microbursts,” said Tom Hronek, commodore at the Dillon Yacht Club, which hosts the Dillon Open. “The wind lasted about a half an hour. It was probably at 50 or so mph. It sort of became a survival race.”

Hronek was out on the lake himself, serving as skipper on Tres Leones, which took seventh place overall in the J24 division but was the unofficial winner of what Hronek called “the storm race.”

“The fleets of U20s and Stars took off ahead of me, and they were being knocked down,” he said. “I knew we were in for it when the wind was ahead of us and heading our way. That wind first hit the No. 1 mark when the Stars and U20s were going around it. They were knocked down and held down with their masts in the water.”

Hronek said he has been involved in the Dillon Open for the last 15 years and that Sunday yielded the worst conditions he can remember for the event.

The race committee abandoned the final race in order to help with rescues, one of which included Breckenridge resident Tim Seeling and his Star boat, which did a death roll (which happens when the boat is running downwind and the mast starts blowing back and forth violently then tumbles) and continued on as “a ghost boat,” having toppled Seeling and fellow crew member Jerry Sullivan into the water.

“That was a pretty depressing scene,” Seeling said. “Everybody was kind of amazed to see this Star out sailing with no one on it. We should have quit racing long before that happened. I’ve been sailing Stars for 25 years, and I’ve never been out of the boat until (Sunday).”

Representatives from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office said the sheriff’s boat at the race rescued six people from the water Sunday afternoon, towed in four boats – two of which had no people on board – and helped with one “swamped and sinking” boat. The Sheriff’s Office and the Dillon Police Department were also dispatched to a courtesy dock near the Dillon Marina, where a motorboat collided with a pickup truck during the race.

As for Dillon Open participants, Hronek believes there were no serious injuries, just a few cold and wet sailors and some damaged equipment.

“My crew was so thrilled to sail in weather like this, they thought it was the most fun they’d ever had,” Hronek said. “During that (last) race, we had one of our guys almost flip over. He was dragged into the water during a sail change. All the guys I talked to after the race seemed to be all right. It was mostly tough on equipment and tough on your skin.”

Official Dillon Open results were complied with scores from the two races Saturday and one race Sunday, with the exception of the J80 and U20 fleets, which were scored on all four races.

After You won the event for J24s, with Blue Side Down and Original Sin finishing second and third. Bad Manners won of the Fleet 12 fleet, Adrenalin won for U20s, Hendrix won for J80s, A Fine Pickle won for the Santana fleet, Kurt Robinson won for the Laser fleet, Paul Kresge won for the Stars, Windbourne won for the Ensigns, David Baker won for J22s and Trick Monkey won of the PHRF fleet.

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