Timberline Cruiser Regatta kicks off summer sailing season at Frisco Bay Marina on June 27 | SummitDaily.com

Timberline Cruiser Regatta kicks off summer sailing season at Frisco Bay Marina on June 27

Regatta boats on Lake Dillon. The Timberline Cruiser Regatta comes to town this weekend, marking the first sailboat race of the summer.
Todd Powell / Town of Frisco |

2015 New Belgium Timberline Cruiser Regatta

What: A laid-back regatta race featuring costumes, prizes for last place and a post-race party hosted by New Belgium at the Island Grill

When: Saturday, June 27 beginning at noon

Where: Frisco Bay Marina

Cost: $30 per boat (four crew), $7 per extra crewmember

All boats can register on June 26 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. or June 27 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the marina. Organizers will hold a captains’ meeting at 10 a.m. on race day. The regatta runs from noon to 4 p.m. The after-party begins at 6:15 p.m.

When New Belgium hosts a sailboat regatta, it will be anything but formal.

For the past eight years, the Fort Collins-based king of craft breweries has partnered with Frisco Bay Marina for the Timberline Cruiser Regatta, a laid-back, fun-loving sailboat event held on Lake Dillon. It’s modeled after the brewery’s Tour de Fat bike-parade series, where typical race trappings like timing and strategy and finish lines are overshadowed by costumes, beer and prizes for coming in dead last.

“We like bringing that fun aspect to the regatta,” says Ainsley Gusaas, the Colorado mountain area manager for New Belgium. “We want everyone to dress in costumes, and we have prizes for the best outfits, so it really does become more than a race. It’s a way to enjoy the water and drink good beer.”

Again like Tour de Fat, costumes are highly encouraged at the regatta, to the point that organizers will require at least one crew member from each boat to dress for the occasion. The event doesn’t have an overarching theme — past years brought everything from Hawaiian shirts and gorilla suits to the full cast of “Gilligan’s Island” — but, in keeping with the spirit of the day, Gusaas says the New Belgium crew will cross cycling with pirates and boating.

But, why host an alpine regatta when bikes are part and parcel of the New Belgium brand?

“It’s wind powered, you know?” Gusaas says. “A regatta on Lake Dillon is a huge part of Summit County, and, along with riding bikes, something like this encourages guests to just get out and enjoy the outdoors.”

On the water

Unlike formal regattas, the Timberline Cruiser is an all-day party. Anyone and everyone are invited to join, even first-timers who have never before crewed a boat. Just stop by the pre-race meeting at 10 a.m. to be adopted by a captain.

“This makes it a lot easier for people who have never sailed to give it a try,” says Phil Hofer, general manager at the marina. “It’s low-key — you won’t get yelled at or pressured to race. Captains can pick up crews that aren’t thrown off by the stigma of sailboat racing.”

Hofer also says the regatta is longer than most. It follows a course around Lake Dillon, taking boats deep into the Blue River inlet on the south shore and Snake River inlet to the east. Most races never touch those waters, just as most races never feature lobster buoys and mark roundings manned by marina staff with squirt guns.

“You won’t find your general blow-up buoys out there,” Hofer says. “People are in for a treat when they go around a few of those marks.”

Over the past eight years, Hofer and Gusaas have seen plenty of oddities at the cruiser. There was once a boat crewed entirely by lady Vikings, complete with chest plates and horned helmets, and, in the first year, marina operations manager Jon Drabik became the inaugural winner of the slowest boat award.

This year, Drabik returns to defend his title, along with the marina’s honor.

“It is designed for people to have fun,” says Hofer, who notes that most boats take three or four hours to drift through the course. “You don’t need to have that competitive angle. It brings a huge variety of people.”

On the dock

No regatta sponsored by a brewery would be complete without an after-party. Best of all, it’s open to the public.

The sailing portion ends dockside at the Island Grill with prizes, a dance off, music from Lee Rogers Band and a live auction, featuring $800 in marina services and a one-of-a-kind New Belgium cruiser bike. All auction proceeds go to the Dillon Junior Sailing club.

Of course, there are still prizes for first, second and third place, along with the sought-after last-place title. Officials will name race and best costume winners at 6:15 p.m.

“People are now putting this on their calendar, asking right away when the cruiser regatta will be,” Hofer says. “Between the barbecue festival and Fourth of July, this attracts people from all over, even people who don’t normally sail. It’s becoming one of the biggest weekend events of the summer.”

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