Lake Pepin plays host to national ice boat racing event - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Lake Pepin plays host to national ice boat racing event


LAKE CITY, Minn. (KTTC)- It may look just like sailing, but add in bitter cold temperatures and typical highway speeds and what you have is a sport specially suited for adrenaline seekers.

It may be the birthplace of water skiing, but now a different water sport is taking over Lake Pepin.

"We go wherever the ice is in the country," says Oliver Moore, a visitor from Rhode Island. "This is where the best ice is right now and that's why we're here."

The 2013 Gold Cup World DN Championship Regatta is in Lake City this year, bringing with it hundreds of sailors from around the country looking to claim the top prize.

Each racer has their own reasons for getting involved with the unique venture.

"Found myself living in Maine and saw a bunch of boats out on the frozen lake one day, and I took a ride in one and that was the end of that," explains James Thieler, another sailor from Rhode Island. "The bug bit hard and I've been doing this every winter ever since."

And it is not just the traditional sailors that compete.

"There's a lot of avid sailors who get into it because it's a different avenue of sailing, which is pretty cool and really exciting," says Moore. "But then it attracts a totally different crowd of people, which is nice because it gets different people involved."

But what is the draw? What compels the racers to go on a frozen body of water in bitter cold temperatures?

"It's the most exciting, most fast, most fun sailing you can do," Thieler shares. "The boats top out at about 60 to 70 miles per hour but they accelerate really fast, you get some wind in the sail and boom, you're gone, and there's just no other type of sailing that compares to it."

Racers like Thieler go from ice to ice, all for the chance to continue with their passion of sailing.

"I'm sure if you asked 15 people here you'd get 15 different reasons why we do it. For me, it's the speed. The comradery, you hear these guys laughing and hooping it up over here, a bunch of similar-minded lunatics. All I can really say to promote it to the next generation is great fun, great friends and great sailing."

Everyone was on the ice Saturday getting a feel for the ice and preparing for the races, which are scheduled to run on Sunday.

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