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Popular regatta unfolds this weekend

The Howard Prairie Regatta, featuring approximately 50 sailboats of varioussizes and classes, will be held on Saturday and Sunday at Howard PrairieLake.

The cost to enter the regatta is $25 per boat, and registration is from9 to 11 a.m. Saturday.

Competition will start at noon on Saturday and at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Race distances vary from one mile to — 1/2 miles.

The event is sponsored by the Rogue Yacht Club.

It's our biggest race of the year for our club, says JimChristensen, commodore of the 60-member Rogue Yacht Club. We willhave boats from all over the West Coast and Canada.

This is always a popular event because of the facilities at thelake and the warm weather, says Christensen. Another factoris the consistent wind we get up there. That lends to ideal sailing conditions.

A dinner for competitors and spectators will be held from 6:30 p.m. to7:30 p.m on Saturday, near the lake.

There is no admission charge for spectators, although a $3 parking feewill be charged by Jackson County.

Howard Prairie water levels are high, says Christensen, and sailing conditionswill be ideal.

It's a great setting to watch racing, he says. Justto be able to get out and sail and experience the quiet out there is wonderful.It's a nice change, too, when we compete.

Two other competitors entered are Medford's Eric Martin and Ashland'sPete L'Ivers.

Martin, a Medford neurologist, will enter his 26-foot S2 7.9 racer cruiserin the faster Open Cruiser Division.

I race because of the competition and because of the intellectualstimulation of reacting to the conditions, says Martin, who finishedfourth in the 1996 national championship for Coronado 15 boats (15-foot,one-design, two-sail boats). You have to be in the right place atthe right time as far as conditions go.

L'Ivers, who is treasurer of the club, will race in a 14-foot Lidos boat.

We get a lot of compliments on how we run this event, saysL'Ivers.

Courses for the regatta have up to six markers to determine turns, accordingto Christensen. Boats must go around the markers or risk disqualification.

If a boat accidentally strays off course and misses a marker, it cango back and go around it without penalty. But if the race committee determinesa boat intentionally missed a marker, it is disqualified.

To get to Howard Prairie, drive east from Ashland on Highway 66 for approximatelyone mile and turn left on Dead Indian Memorial Road. Drive another 19 milesand follow the signs.