Go with the wind: Ludes, other racers ready for Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival

WORTHINGTON -- It's going to a warm and windy Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival this year, which should make for some exciting action this weekend on Lake Okabena.

Members of Ken Moser's extended family release balloons to honor Moser -- a former Worthington Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival president and community leader who died earlier this year -- during Regatta opening ceremonies on Friday. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - It’s going to a warm and windy Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival this year, which should make for some exciting action this weekend on Lake Okabena.


Claire Ludes of Worthington, who just wrapped up her junior year at Worthington High School, is no stranger to the local lake. She’s been windsurfing for roughly 10 years now, but even she admits this weekend may pose a new challenge for her.


“It will probably be the highest winds I’ve ever tried to windsurf in,” said Ludes, the daughter of Mark Ludes and Lisa Gerdes.



Ludes will be one of a strong contingent of windsurfers expected to take to Lake Okabena during this year’s 18th annual Regatta.


“This year, because the winds are going to be unusually high, the windsurfers have a line of communication and the word is out,” said Craig Bergh, a local windsurfing aficionado who in past years coordinated the Midwest Speed Quest along the lake. “I expect 25 to 35 windsurfers at the event this year, which is a very good turnout. And with the high winds, we should see very fast speeds and a lot of excitement for spectators.”


Winds are expected to come from the southwest today at speeds between 25 and 35 mph, with high temperatures approaching and perhaps eclipsing the 90-degree mark. Bergh said today’s winds should rival those at the 2008 Regatta, when Worthington played host to the windsurfing national championships.


“The Ideal wind for racing is 10 to 15 mph, and Saturday’s winds are just going to be very challenging,” Bergh said. “Spectators should get a very good show, and I think that the Regatta site and Chautauqua Park should both be pretty ideal spots for viewing.”



Bergh believes the future of the sport of windsurfing lies in its younger participants - people like Ludes, for instance.


“I was watching the Regatta one year, either right before or right after first grade,” she recalled Friday, a few hours before opening ceremonies and musical entertainment from Six to Midnight and Josh Thompson. “I told my dad, ‘I want to try that,’ and he figured out how to get me lessons. It has just continued from there.”


Ludes said she received her initial windsurfing lessons from Jeff Hegwer, who remains heavily involved with the windsurfing component of Worthington’s Regatta. She also receives annual instruction from Roger Jackson, a regular visitor to Worthington each June, and has also received multiple lessons from Hegwer over the years.


“I like the water, and I really like going fast,” she said. “It’s really like riding a bike, once you get the basics. Plus, it’s something that I will be able to keep doing for a long time - I won’t have to stop after college, or something like that.”



Ludes has most frequently competed in the workshop class during windsurfing events, but is considering trying the sport fleet category this weekend. She’s no stranger to Worthington’s Regatta, naturally, but has also taken part in the Saylorville, Iowa Dam Jam - in windy, 42-degree conditions, no less.


“Claire has gotten pretty good, and I think she and other young people like her represent the future of windsurfing,” Bergh said, adding the Worthington Regatta “is a great place to meet other windsurfers and enjoy friendship with other windsurfers.”


“Spectators should feel free to visit with the windsurfers,” Bergh said. “Most would be happy to take questions and explain the equipment and describe what they’re doing. … They’re just very nice people from the Midwest.”

There will be plenty else going on this weekend with the Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival. Here’s a calendar of events:

Today 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., The Globe Tent open; 9 a.m., skipper’s meeting; racing to follow; 9 a.m., Regatta Bike Ride, Centennial Park; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ride the Hog for Stroke Prevention; 10 a.m., Ken Moser Memorial Run/Walk - Color Dash; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Children’s Activities Sponsored by CCSI; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (or later), food vendors open; noon to 11:59 p.m., beer tent open; 1 to 2:30 p.m. Luke Hendrickson; 3 to 4:30 p.m., Touch of Rust; 5 to 7 p.m., The Plott Hounds, 7 to 8 p.m., Chair Auction & Regatta Raffle Drawing, 8 to 10 p.m., Pop Rocks

Sunday 9:30 a.m., skipper’s meeting; racing to follow; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., The Globe Tent open; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., food vendors open; afternoon, windsurfing awards ceremony

Ryan McGaughey arrived in Worthington in April 2001 as sports editor of The Daily Globe, and first joined Forum Communications Co. upon his hiring as a sports reporter at The Dickinson (North Dakota) Press in November 1998. McGaughey became news editor in Worthington in November 2002 and editor in August 2006.
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