Sailors to get stern test in Dillon Open |

Sailors to get stern test in Dillon Open

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

In the past, It’s been compared to boxing, in that it drains competitors both mentally and physically while handing them a severe beating. It’s been compared with skiing, as the tight technical turns required to navigate the tumultuous waters of the Dillon Reservoir surely separate the experts from the beginners.

No matter what people call it, though, the Dillon Open Regatta isn’t like any other sailing competition in North America.

And when the 37th annual running of the regatta kicks off Saturday morning at the Dillon Marina, more than 100 boats will be tested by all the conditions that come with racing at 9,017 feet elevation.

“Generally, where most regattas are held, the winds are really consistent and come from one direction,” Dillon Yacht Club commodore Jeff O’Neil said at last year’s race. “Here, not only do we have fluky winds, but we also have afternoon showers and big thunderstorms that build up. Those create heavy winds and gusty winds from different directions.”

Strange weather seems to be the norm at this race, which is among the highest (elevation-wise) in the world. The fickle winds have been known to pull a mis-aimed spinnaker sail into the water, nearly sinking boats. Rain, thunder and even hail aren’t uncommon conditions for racing.

Although, that seems to be the reason so many people are interested in competing in the Dillon Open each year.

“We attract a lot of people from around the country because of the flukiness of the winds and competitiveness of the sailing,” O’Neil said.

The yacht clubs runs the weekend of racing, and all proceeds from the regatta benefit the DYC’s Junior Sailing Program, a non-profit organization that provides weekly sailing camps for kids in Summit County, the Western Slope and across the Front Range.

Opening ceremonies for the race kick off the regatta at 10 a.m., and the first competition begins at noon.

In addition to the racing, there will also be a silent auction, live auction and dinner/dance at the marina Saturday evening.

Awards are handed out after all racing has been completed on Sunday.

For more information on the 37th annual Dillon Open Regatta or for a schedule of events, visit

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