Gull Lake Sailing School to host multi-day national championship regatta
The Gull Lake Yacht Club will host for the first time the MC Sailing Association Masters Championship Regatta on June 23-25. The national competition is for the master's level age group — those 50 years old and older — and will attract sailors from all over the country.
BRAINERD — The fishing on Gull Lake is good but the sailing will be even better this week.
The Gull Lake Sailing School was selected to host the 2022 MC Masters Nationals, the first time it was chosen to host the prestigious event for sailors ages 50 and older.
“We're having people from all over the nation coming to visit us and sail, so that's gonna be awesome,” said Katie Arvesen, who has been sailing Gull Lake ever since she was a child.
The MC Sailing Association, Melges and Quantum Sails Zenda, and the Gull Lake Sailing School and Yacht Club will have a two-day instructional seminar from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, and Wednesday at the Brainerd yacht club on setting up, tuning and racing.
“Some professional sailors are coming to give anyone who's interested and who wants to sign up … a free clinic for two days on sailing, which would be great,” Arvesen said Wednesday.
The MC Sailing Association Masters Championship Regatta kicks off Thursday. The sanctioned event is open to skippers of MC Scows who are current members of the association and those who are at least 50 years of age or older on or before the first scheduled race.
“The MC Scow design maximizes speed yet provides unmatched stability,” Arvesen said. “An original design by the Melges family in 1956, it is unique in the fact that you can sail single-handed or double-handed.
About 60 boats from all over the country are expected to sail at Gull Lake, about 12 miles northwest of Brainerd and 12 miles south of Pequot Lakes. The boat registration fee to participate in this week’s race was $200 before June 1 and $220 afterward and includes meals.
“It's gonna be awesome,” Arvesen said. “We're gonna race probably seven races — three on Thursday, three on Friday and probably one on Saturday morning, depending on the weather.”
The school represents a sister organization to the Gull Lake Yacht Club, with deep ties to the area and initiatives to promote sailing as a community activity going back to 1947.
Sebastian Tisdell is a 16-year-old from Brainerd who will be part of a practicing crew of a participant in the three-day regatta on Gull Lake.
“It’s usually windy,” Tisdell said as he was about to set sail Wednesday from the yacht club with Kristoffer Koop, a 16-year-old from Baxter.
Koop added, “Which is good for sailing.”
Tisdell and Koop are part of the Brainerd High School sailing team. The team has competed in events statewide since it began in 2018. The team consists of 16 members and sails from April through the first week of June and from the beginning of September through the end of October.
There are about 20 MCs who race on Gull Lake from June through August, and the school’s fleet includes three notable sailors who all learned to sail at the Gull Lake Sailing School including Vince Driessen, who won the 2018 MC Nationals.
“There are two women registered, but the majority of them are men,” Arvesen said of the competitive sailors in this week’s Gull Lake competition. “Not all of them are retired, some of them have been sailing their whole lives but some are new to the sport, too.”
Driessen, a Twin Cities resident and Gull Lake sailing advocate, has summered in the Brainerd lakes area for more than six decades.
“One guy is a past Olympian who's going to join us,” Arvesen said. “We have people from New Jersey and from Texas who are coming. We have somebody from Georgia and, of course, Iowa and Minnesota lakes. And then we have Illinois and Wisconsin people coming, and Michigan.”
Gull Lake is a 10,000-acre lake with 46 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 80 feet, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“Gull Lake is a beautiful sailing lake. It is long and wide, which allows for excellent sailing courses,” Arvesen said. “Winds can vary from light to heavy and that makes for a great challenge for all skippers.”
The association was formed in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1971. The MC class has grown to be one of the top one-design sailboat racing classes in North America. The design maximizes speed yet provides stability according to the association.
“We started a new fleet called ‘Fleet 104.’ It's the 104th fleet in the nation of this kind of sailboat,” Arvesen said of the Gull Lake Sailing School and Yacht Club’s almost 20 boats. “They call it a one-design sailboat, so all the sailboats are the same.”
The Gull Lake Sailing School and the Gull Lake Yacht Club hosted in 2019 the Inland Lakes Yachting Association MC Scow Invitational Regatta. Scows have a long history in the Great Lakes area, arriving in the New World with Scandinavian immigrants, according to Driessen.
“There are clubs all over the nation, and ours is relatively young,” Arvesen said. “Some of them started in the late ‘70s, I think.”
Arvesen was recognized as the top female sailor in the 2015 MC Masters. Arvesen plans to race in the regatta on Gull Lake that starts Thursday and ends Saturday.
“It’s just going to be so cool. It’s going to be great,” Arvesen said.