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Inland Lakes Yachting Association

Sailboats line up for the Inland Lakes Yachting Association regatta on West Lake Okoboji in 2008. The event returned this month.

OKOBOJI, Iowa | The Iowa Great Lakes is hosting more than 150 sailors taking part in the Inland Lakes Yachting Association Championship.

Boaters are competing in a series of races. The group, based in Fontana, Wis., represents 50 clubs, mostly in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin. Some come from Texas and New York. 

Okoboji Yacht Club Commodore Phil Petersen said most operate on smaller bodies of water.

"Only about a half dozen have a lake big enough to have a facility big enough, and have enough volunteers to put on a regatta of a championship caliber,” he said.

ILYA regattas were last held in the region in 2008, 2005 and 1999.

Races started on Aug. 7 and continue until Thursday. Boats are matched by size.

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Race locations depend on the wind direction, Petersen said. The 28-foot Class E boats will probably sail in the main part of the lake, while the 16-foot MC boats are scheduled to sail the south part of the lake, near Emerson Bay.

"The first leg of a sailing race is directly into the wind, with a length of more than one mile. In most cases the sailboats will go around the course twice, and then make their final leg to windward and the finish line,” he said.

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The best winds are around 10-12 mph.

With two races running simultaneously across the three-day period, Petersen said, spectators should have a good view from most any point on shore or on the lake. But he urged other boat owners to be careful not to create wakes.

"Wakes from powerboats can upset the delicate balance of a sailboat that is totally dependent on wind power," he said. 

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