June 5, 2003 - Praise from avid sailors and the scenery surrounding Scotts Flat Lake make the Gold Country Yacht Club's "Go For the Gold" Regatta Saturday and Sunday one of the top sailing events in Northern California, according to club members.
Now in its 22nd year, the regatta offers sailors - from as far away as Washington and Arizona - a competitive field, picturesque setting, and most importantly, camaraderie among boaters and spectators.
"We believe it's one of the best regattas around," said race chairman Jerry M. Lewis, a former winner of the event. "For us sailors, the lake is perfect for Olympic circle racing. It takes a lot of athleticism, strategy and planning to sail away with the top prize."
Scotts Flat offers an unique challenge for sailors. Although the winds are routinely persistent in the area, Lewis said, the small size of the lake injects a sense of uncertainty in sailors' minds.
"Gauging the direction of the wind makes it a fun yet difficult race. It's part of the attraction for visiting sailors. The wind can be blowing from the south one moment, then come from another direction before you know it. It's unpredictable to say the least," Lewis said.
Not only can finicky conditions frustrate sailors, but there's nothing worse than a poorly-organized regatta, club member Jeremy Gicker noted.
"For those who regularly compete in regattas, they don't want to waste their time participating in one that isn't run smoothly," Gicker said. "We take pride in running a well-organized, low-key event. The rules are made clear and the races start on time. That's important for everyone involved, even those watching on the shore.
"But more importantly although we (the club) and those competing take it seriously, we make sure we create a casual setting and give everyone a chance to visit and have a good time."
The regatta is part of what club members call the "Northern California Lake Circuit."
Starting in the spring, members and other sailors throughout the north state travel and set sail on Whiskeytown Lake, Folsom Lake, Clear Lake, Huntington Lake and Lake Oroville.
Winners in each class receive a vial of gold enclosed in a handcrafted wooden chest which Gicker helped design. Gold pans go out to the second and third-place finishers.
The regatta starts with the skipper's meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday. The first race begins at 11 a.m. and is followed by two other races.
A barbecue dinner will be served at 6 p.m. in addition to the raffle and nautical story-telling contest.
Racing starts at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
The entry fee is $25 for U.S. Sailing members; $28 for nonmembers and $23 for juniors (18 years old and younger).
Non-sailors can enjoy the regatta as well, Lewis said.
"It's spectacular standing back and seeing all the colorful sails grouped together on the lake. On a clear, beautiful day with the pines as a backdrop, it's quite a sight," Lewis said.
For those who don't sail, the best viewing areas are near the Cascade Shores area, marina campgrounds and dam.
The lake is located off Scotts Flat Road in Nevada County via Highway 20.
For more information, call Lynn Buchanan at 470-0511.