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2010 Lake Winnebago Super Crossing

Race Results: 2010 Winnebago Super Crossing Results (.pdf)

Friday Sept.24th was a day to remember with near perfect conditions for a Winnebago Lake Crossing from the south end to the north end, a distance of 26 miles.  The wind direction was WSW so getting to High Cliff State Park meant sailing on a broad reach. With winds in the upper 30’s gusting into the 40’s it would be challenging to say the least. 4 kiters: Don Altmeyer, Ed Schneider, Jeff Ross and Matt Schmitz left around 10:30 all on 8m kites except for Ed on an 11m.  At around 11:00 Jeff Knutson who sponsored the race had the 14 Windsurfers line up on the 1st  sand bar off Roosevelt County Park and take off after the 3rd horn in the high winds for High Cliff.

With the kiters gone from the horizon I beach started my Naish Super Cross 114 with Naish Force 5.0.  I immediately accelerated to a high speed.  Getting comfortable in the footstraps I started to bear off to the ledge by Stockbridge that looked like a far away island from the beach.  I noticed most of the fleet was down wind of me making for Deadwood Point.  I could clearly see Andy’s 6.2 sail screaming for the point along with Zack and Jacob.  I wondered how Andy could hold down that 6.2 so well, for I had my hands full with the 5.0 and I wasn’t even bearing off enough to make High Cliff.  I noticed Magnus just downwind of me and both of us needed to bear off a lot.  I reached back on the boom and over-sheet at the same time bearing off towards the island of land in the far distance.  Immediately accelerating to an uncomfortable speed charging down the face of the wave trying not to plow into the back of the wave I was about to overtake.  I’m working and breathing hard, going way faster than I’m comfortable and I need to go 25 more miles like that!  I also know from experience that the north end of the lake has bigger waves and often the wind is stronger.  After crashing twice, I admit defeat.  I know I can not make it with the equipment I choose. Rather than beat my beaten body some more I’d jibe and come back to the stairs.   On the way back I see Magnus trying to bear off, Andy and Jacob sailing past Deadwood Point. The rest of the group seemed to be between the Point and the south end of the lake, all struggling.  I could see Mark Schmitz struggling on my 4.2 after I pressured him into giving the Crossing a try with the 4.2 because his smallest sail is a 6.5.  I wanted to go and trade sails with Mark so I could continue on the Crossing but decided it would only make getting back worse for Mark.

Click to Image Start Slideshow
tip:  watch the slideshow full-screen for best quality image (click the ‘square’ at  right end of slideshow controls)

Once back on the Beach I saw Arden finish rigging his 5.3.  He was leaving the water when we started the race because he was overpowered on his 6.2 and went home to get a smaller sail.  I watched him sail north with the 5.3 and could see he was still too over powered to make 26 miles.  Racers were returning to the beach and I decided the best thing I could do was go up the east side of the lake and try to find racers who abandoned the race.  While I was leaving Neils Zaunmueller was dropped off by a Sandy Beach resident who saw he needed assistance and brought him and his gear back.  I called Jeff Knutson and he was already at High Cliff getting ready to cook brats and serve beer to the finishers.  I found Magnus just coming at Club Altmeyer, he was wore out.  We loaded his equipment and headed north to Fisherman’s Road.  We saw a lone sailor sitting on his board drifting in.  Low and behold it was my brother Andy.  He has broken his mast with his face after his 3rd wipeout.  (He got a black eye)  Tom Stokes called me and gave me an update of the sailors back at the shop.  All sailors were accounted for except Jacob.  I called Jeff and he could see 4 kiters in the horizon.  After loading Andy’s gear we headed north again to Columbia County Park in Pipe.  There we found Jacob’s gear on the lawn in tack but no Jacob anywhere.  We let Jeff know and by then the kiters were in, enjoying the great picnic Jeff brought for them.  We headed back to Wind Power not happy about Lake Winnebago kicking our butts.

It was still blowing hard when we got back.  Most everyone rigged smaller sails (4.2 – 3.8) and sailed till dark.  Jeff Knutson and the kiters returned from High Cliff and we all shared our experiences.  Matt and Trip joined me for a sunset kiting session on our 8m kites.  I think I could have been on a 5m.

Again thanks to Jeff Knutson of A-A Exteriors.com for another great job running the Winnebago Super Crossing.  Lesson learned, get out on the water and tune, and don’t rig too big when your heading north to the other end of our great Lake.  Either way it was a very fun and windy day.  I am already looking forward to next years crossing!  Hoping to get conditions like we had to give it another try.  Problem is we get conditions like that about once in 8 – 10 years.  We’ll see what next year brings.

Kevin Gratton – USA 8

2 comments to 2010 Lake Winnebago Super Crossing

  • Andy Gratton

    That’s a nice write up, Kev. I should have been on a little smaller sail. I think I could have made it to Cal Harbor, where Jacob went, but that might have been it. Nice photos, thanks to Peggy Wing.

    I should have had GPS to see if I beat Jeff Hegwer’s speed record of 400-some mph during a crash. Air got under the board again, drats!

  • Kevin Gratton

    Thanks for the Blog comment Andy, We all should have been on smaller sails1 I gave my 4.2 to Mark Schmitz otherwise I could have joined Arden on his second attempt. That’s a first, that with 14 sailors no one made it because everyone was on too big a sail.