Set Sail at the Dillon Open Regatta

Joshua Hardin

Water covers less than half a percent of Colorado’s total area, seeming to prove the notion that Western states are “high and dry.” However, only half of that label applies to Lake Dillon in Summit County. 

Lake Dillon was first filled in the 1960s and is more accurately called Dillon Reservoir. While the reservoir serves to store water destined to be diverted to thirsty Denver residents, for a weekend in summer it becomes a uniquely Colorado playground unparalleled elsewhere in the sport of sailing with the Dillon Open Regatta.
“They call this the double black diamond of sailing regattas,” said D.B. Tanner, who, as past commodore of the Dillon Yacht Club and ski instructor at Loveland Ski Area, is well qualified to mix this particular metaphor.

On the race’s opening day, Tanner was in the motorized chase boat as the first group of yachts neared the starting line in a neat row. Tanner’s compatriots, the official scorekeepers in the signal boat, sounded an air horn, and the race was on. Like a horse race, the boats started out side by side before narrowing into a line as they approached the first of many floating marks on the course along the lake’s perimeter.

The boats glided forward, the triangular mainsails augmented by colorful spinnakers, the narrower sails that billow like parachutes when the wind blows from behind. While the boats cut across the water with incredible grace, the cacophony of voices emanating from the vessels was noticeably less graceful.

For the rest of the story see the July/August 2017 issue of Colorado Life.


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