Ice Optimist + DN Junior Bulletin Board

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September 23, 2007
Daniel Hearn shares these photos taken by Andrius Repsys.




February 10, 2007
SHERIDAN'S RACING DAY THREE REPORT: Today was the last day of racing. The wind was so-so; it wasn't very good for the ice we were on. When we started I was in a good spot right at the end so I could steer down to try to get some speed. Let me tell what it looked like.......... no one was in their boat. You had to push and push much of the race. After we got the boat down we went to the award ceremonies and the 2 of the top 3 Ice Optis were girls, which I think is awesome! Overall there were 10 Ice Opti girls including me! That's a pretty good amount! We had to say goodbye to much of the group after the awards. What many of them told me was once you come you don't really stop. They said they wanted me to bring 5x the people we had there now from the US. So step up guys, I am not going to hunt you down!! I promise, if you want some hard core boating come to Poland next year and it will be worth every hour on that plane ride!!! So start planning now!! Lets go to Poland Team USA!!!!

DANIEL'S RACING DAY THREE REPORT: It was the most incredible week of ice sailing I had ever experienced, and I never set foot in a boat.  Just a week ago, I will sheepishly admit, I didn’t really know exactly where Lithuania was.  Probably one of those countries where the men shout very guttural “yaahs” all the time and drink lots of vodka.  And they probably have a few gymnasts and skaters, too, who train in old, cold facilities, but somehow manage to overcome their lack of funding to capture medals in the Olympics.
It is true that the standard of living we are used to in the United States is quite different from what we experienced here.  But when it comes to ice sailing, the Europeans are truly the “wealthy” society.  Yes, we can lay claim to having some of the best in the world among the American ranks.  The big difference, though, is that our champions are all guys who rode Schwinn Banana Peeler bikes and played vinyl records as kids.  And these are the “young guys” among us!
In Europe, they truly celebrate all the youth of ice sailing and it is far from a “boys club.”  The results are the best evidence-- two of the top three Ice Opti sailors in the world are girls.    Traveling here with my daughter, I was particularly inspired to see that the Europeans put extra effort into recognizing and encouraging their girls’ participation, with special awards given in both the Ice Opti and DN classes.
Where is ice sailing going in Europe?  Their vision is for Junior Championships in the near future to need qualifying races to determine Gold and Silver Fleets.  And again, they are talking about the DNs and Optis.  How cool would that be?! When you take a look at the starting line pictures, you can see that dream is not far off. 
As I sit here in this dark room typing on my laptop in the middle of the night, the 41st ranked Junior Ice Opti Sailor in the World now lays fast asleep.  Truth be told, Sheridan never finished a single race.  What she did though, I hope, is show the rest of us what ice sailing in the United States could look like if we have the commitment and drive to make it happen.
Step up! It's time for all of us to be teachers--- on the ice, in the shop and at the chalkboard.  If you could experience the pride and joy I am feeling right now, I can assure you, the rewards will make the small sacrifice of your time seem like no sacrifice at all.   
So who’s ready to go to Poland next year?

Final DN Juniors race of event.

Same race; view from pits.

The Ice Opti sailor now ranked 41st in the World!



Young Polish sailor moves his rig for overnight storage.

Team USA prepares to leave Lake Rekyva.


Polish sailors pack up.

Team Latvia "mobile" sharpening machine.

Team Sweden vehicle.


Polish sailors pack up.

Team Poland vehicles.

Event Chair with TV crew at Final Ceremonies.


Special award for youngest sailor (10).

Team Germany (?) vehicle.

Team Estonia.

February 9, 2007

SHERIDAN'S RACING DAY TWO REPORT: Hey everyone! This is Sheridan giving you (a late) day 5 report. Today we had the best winds this week. On the way out there I hiked a little bit which was very fun. At the first race I was going awesome. I was in a group of about 20 boats that were close to the leader I saw that my side stay was dangling by my boat I grabbed it and tucked it in my boat thinking that my Dad could fix it after the race.   About a minuet later my whole mast came down and I had to stop because its pretty hard to sail without a sail. So a Polish man came out and saw what was wrong and saw that my pin was missing. So he sailed back in looking for one. But then my Dad came put out on Hanna's boat (a Swede) and luckily had another pin he stuck it in the hole and I was off. I finished the lap but I was way past the time limit so I went in and got ready for the next race! The2nd race was alright I again didn't finish but the wind felt like it was shifting. Stan had told us that after 2 races we would go in for soup but when we were already in we realized that the Optis were racing, so we missed the third by being misinformed. That was the only races we did today. We looked at the results and I wasn't last, in fact I was 34th out of 45 in the world!!  Pretty cool! Next year I heard that the championships are  going to be in Poland! Try to keep ya all posted.

Silly American! You'd think he'd never seen anything like this before. But little did they know, he hadn't.
In the United States, we take many things for granted. The same is true here, they just happen to be different things. Take Poland for example. When a single team can bring nearly 50 junior ice sailors to the World Championships, you can be sure that the sport is more than just an odd pastime for a few northerners who simply don't know enough to come in from the cold.
To these kids, ice sailing is just one of those things they've always done. They are families of ice sailors-- boys, girls, moms, dads and even grandparents. The littlest ones are viewed as the most vital of every club. The big kids look after them; the little ones look up to them like "rock stars."
I was amazed at how self-reliant these kids were. They carried their own sails. They put their own boats together. They pushed themselves out to the race course and up to the line. They sailed fast and they were great sportsman. In an entire week I never saw a single tantrum. The parents were very active participants, but not in that "win at all costs" way that seems to be plaguing youth sports of all types in America.
I feel incredibly fortunate to reside in the greatest country in the world. But clearly we don't know it all. When it comes to ice sailing, the Europeans are the ones living in the "land of opportunity."

Sheridan and friends warming up.

Antonina Marciniak (Poland), who would become World Ice Opti Champion

10 year old Pawel Roszkowski of Poland, the youngest competitor.


Sails stored fully rigged in the "gymnasium."

Hardware for the eventual champion.

Proud new owner of 4LIYC gear.


Two 12 year-olds from different parts of the world-- Sheridan and Antonina Marciniak. (Antonia became the eventual champion).

Proud new owner of 4LIYC gear.

The blogger and Henry who speaks three languages, but little English. Das good, yaah!

February 8, 2007
I remember the feeling as if it were yesterday, but everything was
different. A different continent, a different sport, even a different
daughter. At a time when my driver's license registered one less

She was in control now, loose from the literal and figurative leash
that apparently provided more comfort for me than her. She was snow
skiing by herself, her face beaming to her mother who stood below.
Kiley is nineteen now, a freshman in college away from home and Dad's
protective watch for the very first time. And Kiley....... is
Sheridan's oldest sister.

It never occurred to me at the time, but this might have something to
do with the reason I'm here in Lithuania to begin with. What kind of
wing nut, who's never been out of the US himself, jumps on a plane and
flies half way around the world to accompany his 12 year old daughter
to race in the World Junior Ice Sailing Championships. It would be a
trip requiring a departure in just five days? No passports, no travel
arrangements, no idea how to transport equipment... Oh yeah, and
Sheridan has no sailboat racing experience to speak of-- on soft water
or hard water!

Sheridan didn't even finish a race on this first official day, but the
thrill we both experienced will be forever etched in our mental trophy
cases. I don't know, perhaps one day I'll conclude that this whole
thing had something to do with parental separation anxiety. As I'm
guiding both Kiley and Sheridan out of the nest into different stages
and new life experiences, I find myself both thrilled and a bit
anxious. The way I felt today when on frozen Lake Rekyva when they
shouted (translated), "the flag is down!"

Posted February 9, 2007

February 7, 2007
DANIEL'S THIRD REPORT (No report from Sheridan today; too tired.)
Imagine it. You're a 12 year-old girl half way around the world, outside of the United States for the very first time. Your iceboat racing resume has one entry; a hundred yard scrub race with your little brother and another two-lap "veteran." You're invited to race, in a language you don't even understand, with the very best Juniors in the entire world. And as a sign of their great delight that an American has finally made the trip across the Atlantic to participate in a World Juniors, they put you in the Number One starting block.

(Translated:) "The flag is up.....the flag is down!!!!!"

Such an experience might have humbled even Muhammad Ali. Kind of like being put in the pole position for the Indy 500 having just received your training permit. But what an experience it was. Add to this recipe a bit of snow and rough surface, for undesirable friction, and light wind lacking the desired "punch" to propel even experienced sailors continuously around the course.

Sheridan and I had much discussion the week prior to our trip that the only things that really mattered were that she try and have a great attitude while doing so. That we would find the fun in every aspect of our shared experience. That she may finish last in every race, or not even finish at all, but that would be perfectly OK. That there is never shame in failure when you have the courage to at least try. That the true shame is when someone doesn't try at all. ("Let your place not be with the cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat." Theodore Roosevelt)

I learned that a child's own self expectations can easily trump loads of parental guidance in the form of mental preparation and positive, enthusiastic encouragement. That innate competitive spirit is at the same time both the backbone of accomplishment and the short-lived cause of frustration. And that "I remember my first race" stories from her new international friends are the best band-aid of all. Tomorrow is another day. She's ready. I'm ready. What fun it will be!

Kids learn to work on
their own boats.



Some if Team Latvia.

Competitor's Meeting.  Many not in picture still setting up.  ALL JUNIORS!


Starboard starters first Opti race.

Starboard starters first DN training race.

Little American girl welcomed by being placed in Block One.


From Right:  Vadimus Grigonis (Lithuanian Secretary), Dorata Michalczyk (PRO), not identified, Sheridan.

Tear down on last training day

The American rookie and reigning Junior DN World Champion from Poland.

February 6, 2007
Hello everyone this is Sheridan giving you day 2 report. Last night Stan saw all the prizes my Dad brought from WI. He was very interested and we also told him about a rain gutter regatta, so we might be able to have one of those here. Today when we got to the ice it was -5C.  The ice looked better than yesterday and better than we had expected, but when you walked on it your foot sank a little and water filled the hole!! I am hoping that we will get some sailing in before we race because I might be a little rusty and I would like to see the other racers sail around a bit to know what I am in for. Also it will be my first race with more than 2 racers. (no offense to Frank and June) So this ought to be interesting. We didn't have a chalk talk today because we had a press conference which in my words was actually kinda boring there was more of translating into Lithuanian than English and I was recognized so we couldn't avoid not going to it. Tonight there is a little dance party in the bar at the hotel and I haven't checked it out yet . I hope the weather tomorrow is true ice boating weather!!!   

Arrived at the lake this morning to find conditions much better than expected. With the temp just above freezing and the ice very wet to begin with, all of the snow turned into a thick coat of slush frozen about an inch thick on top, but collapsing under your feet when you walked on it. Not yet ready for sailing, but temperatures were below freezing all day and expected to dip to about -10 Celsius overnight. Event organizers expect the ice to harden up enough to complete the first and now last training day tomorrow. If that is successful, racing will begin as planned on Thursday.

For the training day tomorrow two complete courses will be set, one for DN's and the other for the Optis. Practice racing will go on throughout the day if conditions warrant. A World/European Junior Event does not normally move, given the even more complicated logistics with junior sailors. Sailors arriving today, however, report black ice in Riga, Latvia, which is approximately 60 kilometers away, so that may be the fallback.

Among the highlights of the day was the official press conference with all the fanfare you'd see prior to a major sporting event in the US. Flags of all the countries represented were displayed on the table in front of all the European Officers. Comments were delivered to the press in the native Lithuanian tongue, or translated by an interpreter from English. The Polish Officer (may be called a Secretary, but I'm not sure) was very pleased to report that it was the largest Junior Ice Sailing Event in history and now could truly be called a "World Championship" with the participation of Sheridan Hearn, "the young Opti sailor from the United States of America." (Perhaps one day she will understand how proud her Dad was at that moment, prior to the completion of even a single race).

The sailors were arriving again today in droves. Seeing a Junior program like this would make any US ice boater absolutely green with envy. The infrastructure exists here for a long and healthy ice sailing future for many years to come. (Editorial comment: If we are truly serious about our sport's longevity in the US, we need to follow the European's lead. They are forward thinking. In fact, it has come up several times that they'd like to see the World Junior Championships held in the US before 2010. It can happen, but it would require commitment and dedication by many. Are you ready to do your part?)

Event organizers were quite delighted to receive the gifts we brought from the states for all the sailors provided through the generosity of a number of sponsors. They are: Harken (Steve Orlebeke; Quantum Sails (Jim Gluek); MadSails (Ryan Malmgren); Trek Bicycle (Wes Wilcox); West Marine (Steve Yost and Tyler Sternberg), Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club (Debbie Whitehorse and Greg Whitehorse). Many thanks to these companies and individuals for their support.

So much for now.


Ice surface today.

European Smart Car....don't think it could pull a Skeeter trailer!

Ben and Tim (UK), Sheridan (USA), Hannah (Sweden).


Back side of sailing club.  Ice in pits very rough from foot traffic.

Typical Polish trailer; many like this here.

Just a few boats of the impressive Polish contingent.


Pierre and Jeremy (Switzerland); Sheridan's boat w/yellow plank.

More of the arriving Pols.

Yes, and more Pols.


The "Press" at the press conference.  Young man (orange jacket), Petra from Poland, reigning Junior World Champion.


Press conference; US flag represented for first time.

February 5, 2007
Hello everyone this is Sheridan. I hope you guys are keeping warm with such cold weather in WI. Here in Lithuania is quite an experience and I am loving every second of it. The weather here is very snowy and pretty cold and not good iceboating weather!! My boat here in Lithuania is very different from my own in WI. The runner are soooo small and the tiller is much longer and the colors are red ,white, black and yellow so close to the US colors but not quite. I haven't sailed in it quite yet but I hope I will tomorrow.  The food here is much different there was pink soup really PINK soup I didn't try it.  My dinner was very good though. But I still like American food better. The Swedish kids make fun of me because I don't know the countries of Europe even though they know the states of the US. I know some of the countries, but I wouldn't be able to point them out on a map. They also prefer the ice in Sweden than here in Lithuania. I know 2 boys from England who placed 4th and 10th last year in this competition. The Polish people are nice but very competitive by the stories I have heard from the Swedes. I guess even if they hit you they keep going and don't stop to ask if you are all right!!! Wow!!!  Now that is intense. I hope when I come back I can sail on my own lake!!! I am meeting so many new people and learning some Swedish!!! I can't wait until I get home and I will try to keep you all posted.   

Arriving at
Lake Rekyva

Tim from the UK installing runners on Macur built Ice Opti


Official event poster

Woke up this morning to wet snow. Out at the lake, 2-3 inches of slush covered the ice; no wind to speak of. Didn't seem to matter to anyone. Much fun was had building snowmen, fighting with snowballs and visiting with fellow sailors from all over the world. The ice sailing culture here is truly impressive. It has the "grassroots" component that is largely missing presently in our country. Vehicle after vehicle would pull up loaded with kids and gear, some towing trailers with as many as 9 boats (DN's and Ice Optis) strapped to every available space. It's feels like a volleyball or hockey tournament in the US....just add ice boaters.

Back at the hotel, Sheridan and I participated in a "chalk talk" led by the head of the Swedish Team. It was very encouraging to see how the older DN sailors were encouraged to help their younger DN counterparts who so look up to then. Sheridan has forged wonderful friendships already with juniors from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the UK. We have been made feel very welcome by all. Many of the Poles were just arriving today, so our time with the representatives of the most broadly represented nation so far has been pretty limited.

Spirits remain high in spite of the weather. Of course they would like to avoid postponing the event to the March reserve date, if at all possible, but truth be told, I think there is significant doubt lingering in most people's minds.

The Optis here are set up with very thin, short runners. As with any US regatta, the usual runner shimming, alignment, equipment discussions occupied some of the waiting around time in the pits.

More tomorrow. Hope it warms up for all of you.

Email #2: Made it to Lithuania and just had a wonderful dinner with kids and parents from Denmark, Finland, England and Poland. Still have some technology issues to overcome. No phone in our room; no internet either. Wireless only on first floor of hotel. Only way I have access now is using the computer behind the hotel lobby desk. Have been awake now almost continuously for 24 hrs. so Sheridan and I are pretty beat. Breakfast at 8:00 then out with the other sailors for the first day of training. Hope to be able to send pictures tomorrow.
Hi to all in the US. We've gotten a tremendous welcome over here. Sheridan gelled with the other kids like she's know them her whole life.
So much for now.

Email #1: Woke up to wet snow this morning. Not sure how much is expected. Will know impact on iceboating soon. Temp. looks to be close to freezing, so maybe it will melt. Having breakfast with our international friends. More later.

February 4, 2007
Sheridan Hearn Arrives in Lithuania for Opti Regatta
Dad, Daniel, writes, "I'm pleased to report that I was able to establish a wireless connection from the hotel's conference facilities...Way past our bedtime here."

January 31, 2007
Hearn To Represent U.S.A. at
Junior World Championships

Sheridan Hearn in her Ice Opti.
4LIYC Ice Opti Skipper, Sheridan Hearn, age 12, will be representing the United States and the 4LIYC in the DN/Opti World Junior Championships to be held next week on Lake Rekyvos in Lithuania. This is truly a historic event for US iceboating, as Sheridan will be the first US Junior to ever participate in the Junior-only World Championships. (And her Dad thinks it's pretty cool that this first participant is, in fact, a girl). The event already has 110 pre-registrants from countries all over Europe. Sheridan and her Dad will be flying into Vilnius, the capitol city of Lithuania to meet up with Lithuanian ice sailors who will shuttle them to the host hotel. There they will meet up with Swiss sailors who will join them for the trip to the lake the next day. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are training days for all the competitors where they will learn both on and off the ice. Competition takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday with Sunday as a back up day.

Daniel indicated that the European iceboating organization has been tremendously helpful in offering their assistance to make this possible. Mr. Stan Macur of Poland has generously offered to provide Sheridan with a full complement of equipment. Sheridan will be bringing her own sail, however, proudly sporting her US Number.

The 4LIYC, as well as corporate sponsors-- Quantum Sails, Harken and MadSails-- will be sending merchandise with the Hearns who report that they will be thrilled to present these gifts as ambassadors of the US iceboating community.

Daniel will be taking a laptop and digital camera and will do his best to send back daily reports to share with everyone back in the states. The Hearns pass on their thanks to Pete Johns and Jane Pegel in the US for their support; of course, Mr. Stan Macur of Poland; and Mr. Chris Williams of Great Britain.
For more information about the Junior Championship, click here:
Ice Optimist + DN Junior Bulletin Board




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