Sailing on Spring Lake

Becky Vargo • Aug 12, 2016 at 8:00 AM

FERRYSBURG — Ten-year-old Nyle Eggert was nonchalant when he described what it felt like to fly across Spring Lake as the wind filled the sail of his 8-foot boat.

The Spring Lake boy was in second place in the Optimist class after the second day of sailing in the 87th annual Western Michigan Yachting Association Championship Regatta, being hosted this weekend by the Spring Lake Yacht Club.

“I’m happy if I’m going to win,” Eggert said. “I’m nervous if I’m not going to win.”

Eggert and his brother, Max, were working the snack stand at Spring Lake Yacht Club on Thursday with another young sailor, Charlie Vink. The youngsters seemed to be holding down the fort as two classes of racers competed that afternoon on different sections of Spring Lake.

Nyle Eggert skippered his Optimist — a solo sailing vessel — in one race and crewed with another Spring Lake youth, Noah Wolters, in the Butterfly race. Wolters won the Butterfly Nationals three weeks ago on White Lake, again with Eggert as his crew.

A fleet of 14-foot Lasers was racing on the west end of the lake near Smith’s Bayou while the larger MC Scows (about 16-foot boats) sailed around the bend to the east. Three other classes of boats — the C Scow, Melges 17 and the biggest vessel racing, the E Scow at 28 feet — had already been on the water that day.

The local yacht club’s rear commodore, Steve Czadzeck, said he was excited that they had 136 boats registered for the four-day event.

“I was expecting 90-100,” he said. “We are overjoyed.”

Czadzeck said Spring Lake is a tough lake to sail a lot of boats because it is so narrow, but they had 15 E Scows successfully navigate the course earlier that day.

Each boat class runs five races over the four-day event, Czadzeck said. The classes have a different start time each day, so the youngsters in the smallest boats and up to four-person crews on the largest boats will be the last races today, starting at 2:20 p.m.

On Saturday, racing starts at 10 a.m. with the MC and Laser classes. The C Scows and Butterflies race at 12:20 p.m., and the Melges 17 are scheduled to run at 12:25 p.m. The final races of the day will begin at 2:20 p.m., and will again feature the E Scows and Optimists.

Spectators are welcome at Spring Lake Yacht Club, although parking is limited at the Ferrysburg facility.

Czadzeck said there are 18 members of the Western Michigan Yachting Association, including the 1929 charter members — Spring Lake, Muskegon and White Lake. Participants in this year’s event have come from as far away as Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Virginia. Czadzeck said some of the participants have summer homes in the area, but live in Utah and California.

Marcy Beyer of Hamilton gathered her three sons so she could get home in time to participate in the women’s race at the Macatawa Bay Yacht Club. Zachary, Quentin and Keegan are competing in different race classes at the Spring Lake event.

“Our kids love hanging out with the kids from the other yacht clubs,” Beyer said. “It’s such a family-friendly event.”

The oldest sailor competing is former Spring Lake Yacht Club Commodore Ken Achteroff, who is in his 80s. The youngest skippers, like Vink, are age 7.

Last year, the WMYA Regatta was held on Torch Lake. For the next three years, it will take place on Crystal Lake, Muskegon Lake and White Lake, respectively.

For more information on the Western Michigan Yachting Association, go to their website at www.wmya.org. Links to all of the member sailing clubs may be found on the website.

For more information on the Spring Lake Yacht Club, go to www.springlakeyachtclub.com.





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