Lake Minnetonka to host international regatta

1-L&P Regatta centerpiece H-CMYKLast held on Lake Minnetonka in 2006, the 2016 E-Scow National Championship will attract over 85 top yacht racing skippers and crews from throughout the U.S, and some from the world’s yacht racing stage, to compete in the nation’s largest one-design sailing event of 2016.

Excelsior’s Erik Bowers will be competing for the first time in a E-Scow Nationals, coming off his bid to represent the U.S. Olympic Sailing Laser Team in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Also, competing, from the Lake Geneva, WI Yacht Club, will be seven-time E-Scow Nationals Champion Brian Porter (aboard I-49 Full Throttle) and seven-time E-Scow Nationals Champion Harry Melges III (aboard I-1 Eagle), and both are also World Champions in the Melges 24 class.

Organized by the National Class E-Scow Association (NCESA), the regatta is hosted by one of the oldest and most renowned yacht clubs in U.S. (founded 1882), the Minnetonka Yacht Club. The races will take place Friday though Sunday, Sept. 9–11. Practice, registration and Welcome Reception will be Sept. 8 and the Award Ceremony held Sept. 11.

This the 58th E-Scow National Championship, the sixth time on Lake Minnetonka, for a racing class and one design that is 115 years old, with origins in Twin Cities. Over the years, the Regatta has attracted the world’s best yacht racers. As the country’s premier one-design yacht racing event of 2016, 85 top E-Scow skippers (in a U.S. fleet of 225) will compete on 28-foot yachts (crew of 4) that was invented by John O. Johnson at Johnson Boat Works (White Bear Lake, MN) in 1890s.

Many skippers and crew are America’s Cup sailors, Olympic Champions, collegiate All-Americas, off-shore MORC racers, Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA) Champions and U.S. national and youth champions.

1-L&P Regatta 2 boats V-CMYKHost Minnetonka Yacht Club has produced some of the most accomplished sailors in world, including U.S. Olympic gold medalist, 5-time E-Scow National Champion, 10-time Blue Chip E-Scow Champion Bill Allen, ocean solo racing champion Mike Plant, U.S. Olympic medalist/ coach and 2-time NCESA National Champion Gordy Bowers. The Club has the largest and most active scow racing fleet in the country, as well as one of the leading sailing schools in the U.S.

“Racing an E-Scow is like racing a Porsche,” said Bowers, the Sailing Master of the Lake Minnetonka Sailing School, and Olympic Sailing coach and medal winner.

He was referring to the E-Scow being among the most competitive and fastest of all racing sailboats, reaching speeds up to 25 miles per hour in windy days.

“The E-Scow fleet is a vibrant sailing community throughout the country, racing a 100-year old yacht design that is now the #1 one-design racing class in the U.S., that was created right here in Minnesota,” said Excelsior’s Sam Rogers, Regatta Chairman, 2007 and 2014 E-Scow National Champion, and top U.S. sailor who sails professionally around the world in various Grand Prix racing programs. “A rich tradition in sports, and the craft is passed down from one generation to the next.

“Having the opportunity to host a prestigious event like the E-Scow Nationals is a very exciting opportunity for the Minnetonka Yacht Club and the Lake Minnetonka area,” added Rogers.

“Lake Minnetonka is such a great showcase location for the E-Scow National Championship,” said Lon Schoor, Commodore of the NCESA. “Our largest attendance ever was at a National Championship regatta at Lake Minnetonka. Lake Minnetonka has such a strong E-Scow history and the Minnetonka Yacht Club members really come-out to support this event.

“Our last time here, in 2006, we had 93 E-Scows competing,” continued Schoor. “Lake Minnetonka is home to some of the very best E-Scow sailors in the country. E-Scow fleets from all around the country will be represented at the Regatta, anxious to test the best at Minnetonka.

“The NCESA is always honored to have the Minnetonka Yacht Club host the National Championship. With the large turnout we expect, the lake will be filled with color, speed, and action the weekend after Labor Day 2016,” added Schoor.

The 4-day regatta will attract over 300 skippers and men and women crew from over 30 U.S. Midwest and east coast yacht clubs, in Minnesota: Minnetonka Yacht Club, White Bear Yacht Club, Upper Minnetonka Yacht Club, Gull Lake; Wisconsin clubs Lake Geneva Yacht Club, Pewaukee Yacht Club, Mendota Yacht Club (Madison) and Oshkosh Yacht Club; east coast clubs in Toms River, NJ, Little Egg Harbor, NJ, Mantoloking, NY, and from clubs in Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Colorado, et cetera. Additionally, the regatta is an event with environment responsibility and “green” initiatives and a sport with a rich tradition, teamwork, strategy, athleticism and competitive spirit.

Many of those champions are from the Minnetonka Yacht Club and will be competing in the 58th Annual Regatta. The champion Excelsior area skippers, include:

• Tom Burton (steering Intrepid M-9): 2-time E-Scow National Champion (1991, 2009); nine-time Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA) Champion, including 1994 E-Scow ILYA Champion
• Sam Rogers (steering M-42): 2-time E-Scow National Champion (2007, 2014), E-Scow ILYA Champion 2010, Melges 32 and Melges 24 National Champion, Member of #1-Ranked US Match Racing Team
• Rob Evans (steering Cosmic Warrior M-1): 9-time ILYA Champion; 1996 E-Scow ILYA Champion, Flying Jr. World Champion and 1997 Ice and Snow Surfing World Champion
• Erik Bowers (steering Meatballs M-11): E-Scow 2013 ILYA Champion, 2012 Laser National Champion, 2016 U.S. Sailing Olympic Team Laser Class candidate and member of 2016 U.S. Sailing Team Sperry
• Chris Jewett (steering M-3): E-Scow 2005 ILYA Champion, Collegiate All-American Sailor and 2015 A-Scow ILYA Champion
• Derek Packard (steering Port Approach M-87); top 5 E-Scow National U.S. Rankings-2011, 2012, 2015
• David Strothman (steering Ballistic M-10); currently ranked 12th in 2015 Overall National U.S. Rankings

Over 15 trophies will be raced for including the NCESA Youth Championship Trophy, Top Women Skipper Trophy, Iver C. Johnson Trophy, Pewaukee Trophy, Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association Trophy, and the Welden Memorial Trophy.

The regatta will also attract 650 sailor family members/handlers, over 1,000 yacht club members from various Midwest lakes, 1,500 Regatta spectators and fans, a spectator fleet of 250 boats on Lake Minnetonka and 15 regatta sponsors. The event has a Gold Level “Clean Regatta Certification” from Sailors for the Sea, the ocean conservation nonprofit focused on the sailing and boating community, which ensures environmental-centric policies and procedures are put into place throughout the regatta.

Regatta corporate sponsors include Twin Cities Orthopedics, Synergy Wealth Management, NOR-SON, Lake Minnetonka Magazine, Regan Investments, Excelsior Brewing, Line Honors Yacht Racing Outfitters, Regatta Ginger Beer, Dunn Bros Coffee, Gill Sailing Apparel, and Joey Novas Pizzeria.