Countdown to Windsurfing Regatta begins

WORTHINGTON -- Five years ago, Worthington first played host to the U.S. Windsurfing National Championships in conjunction with the Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival. This summer, Worthington has again been tapped for hosting dut...

WORTHINGTON -- Five years ago, Worthington first played host to the U.S. Windsurfing National Championships in conjunction with the Windsurfing Regatta and Unvarnished Music Festival. This summer, Worthington has again been tapped for hosting duties of this premier windsurfing event on June 11-15.

In the interim years, the Worthington event has been part of the USW National Race Tour, a series of 14 races around the country at which windsurfers can get ranked nationally -- an entirely different scenario from the Nationals.

"The Nationals is a race that stands on its own," explained Regatta Race Director Jeff Hegwer. "If you want to be national champion, you have to be in Worthington on June 11-15. It's kind of like winning Daytona. It's the biggest prize of the year. Because of that, you're going to attract some people you wouldn't normally get, some personalities who are pretty famous in the windsurfing community."

Worthington's event, including the 2003 Nationals, has attracted an average of 75 windsurfers, a number that exceeds the standard, according to Hegwer, and he anticipates a bigger turnout this year.

"There were 55 at last year's National Championship," he explained. "The first year we did it, we beat the normal census, and God willing and gas prices not skyrocketing, we should be one of the biggest races in the nation this year."


Hegwer said Worthington got the nod again because of the quality races that have been run in recent years and the city's reputation for hospitality.

"I take a ton of pride in the fact that the Worthington Regatta has gone from being an event started by a couple of salesmen who didn't know a thing about racing to the point we are at today," he said. "You couple that with the hospitality and hosting skills and the musical aspect, and there is no better race. Nobody else puts the emphasis on the hospitality that we do, and we're capable of putting on a race that's as good as any other race in the nation. ... We've legitimized inland racing as a credible place to have a championship."

The Regatta board and its committees have been working for many months on preparations for the June event. The music committee recently firmed up the schedule for the Unvarnished Music Festival portion, mixing in some returning favorites with some new, hopefully crowd-pleasing talent.

For the opening ceremony, which will take place on a Wednesday night, the Worthington City Band has agreed to move its traditional mid-week concert from Chautauqua Park to Sailboard Beach. Another community band, the Buergerwache Band from Worthington's sister city of Crailsheim, Germany, will perform during the afternoon on June 14. A delegation from Crailsheim will be visiting throughout most of the Regatta to mark the two communities' ongoing celebration of 60 years of sisterhood.

According to Cindy Morrison, chairwoman of the music committee, the group wanted to instill a regional flavor in this year's festival.

"We've tried to showcase people who have some origin here in southwest Minnesota and who have been able to go on and be successful," she noted.

Performers will include Worthington's own harmonica virtuoso, Noah Hoehn; Nikki Matteson and the Rue-mates, a group that hails from the Jackson area; Sideline, a local band that incorporates members of the former Boss Tweads; Jazz with Ross and Pete from the Marshall area; and Jim Langemo, a blues-influenced musician originally from Canby.

Headliners will be: June 12, Joe and Vicky Price (blues/slide guitar); June 13, Buckets and Tap Shoes; and June 14, Ride.


Buckets and Tap Shoes, a Minneapolis-based rhythm and dance group, was a previous festival favorite. Ride, a Chicago-style blues band that was founded by windsurfers, has also been well-received at past Regattas. A newcomer will be Calle Sur, a Latin band from Waterloo, Iowa. Both Buckets and Tap Shoes and Calle Sur will offer workshops on the morning of June 14.

Planning a five-day event for the Nationals as opposed to the Regatta's traditional weekend format is a much bigger commitment and takes more of everything from the community, emphasized Regatta chairwoman Joni Harms.

"After many hours of planning on the part of the various board members and committee members, it's coming together and looking to be a fantastic event," she said. "To really make this a huge success, we can always use more sponsorship dollars, more volunteers to help out and continuing enthusiasm and involvement from the community overall."

For more information about sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, contact the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, 372-2919.

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