Monday, March 16, 2009

Windsurfing Mille Lacs Lake

Wind surfing has been a large part of my life for many years you can see some of the photos from trips windsurfing in the North Sea. When I was in Minnesota I often surfed on the lakes there in the spring and fall when the winds are blowing hard.

Every Year for many years running I was a participant in the Mille Lacs Lake Crossing. This is a windsurf race across Lake Mille Lacs. If your not familiar with the Lake it is one of the largest lakes in Minnesota. (and in Minnesota that’s saying something). It is 25 miles across at its widest point. When you are standing on the beach at one side you cannot see the other shoreline. It disappears because of the curve of the earth.

If you happen to be out on the lake when the winds get to blowing 25 miles and hour plus the waves can get up too 10 or 12 feet tall. Small boats don’t stand a chance on the lake when the wind is blowing that hard. However windsurfers with there ability to lay in the water and restart without swamping like boats can have a great time out there in the big waves.

The Mille Lacs crossing would often draw a 100 or so surfers to the town of Garrison on the shores of Mille Lacs for the weekend late in September when its held. People would camp and stay in RV’s or hotels and make a weekend festival of it. The crossing then would be held on either Saturday or Sunday depending on what day was the best wind day. There was banquets and party’s, breakfast was served, and a great time was usually had around the campfire at night or in the Casinos nearby.

People would pull all sorts of different trailers filled with their windsurfing equipment and park it by the beaches where they were sailing.

Here is my trailer and rigs for one of the races.

Some times the race would be over in 45 minutes. If you have a 30 mile and hour wind blowing you can cross a 25 mile long lake in 45 minutes on a windsurfer. Other years with not so much wind it could take 4 or 5 hours to cross. It is always a puzzle as to what rig you should run on the lake because the wind can change with a moment notice and if you happen to have too big or too small of a sail on out in the lake for the wind you are in for trouble.

Some years there would be a large 50 foot launch boat that followed with observers in. This allowed the spouses to come along for the ride so to speak.

Other years the wind blew so hard the boats were forced off the lake. I remember one year getting lost on the lake because you could not see the shore in any direction. The waves were so high and the gray mist from the wind and water made it impossible to see. Unable to see the lead boat I got off course and missed the finish line by 5 miles.

The fastest crossing were always the most fun, but no matter what the weather for the weekend turned into there was always fun. Wind surfing was certainly an adventure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering if you were going to show pictures of windsurfing and sure enough there they were......