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Photo essay: Sailboats pepper Lake Superior

Sailboats cluster near the starting line of the Duluth Yacht Club Wednesday Night Races in Lake Superior near Duluth. The Duluth Yacht Club offers 17 races on Wednesday nights in Duluth from mid-May to mid-September. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)1 / 5
Jessie Albritton of Duluth watches for other boats while sailing aboard Sixx. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)2 / 5
Sailboats Moon River (from left), Swedish Magic and Polar Bear maneuver for starting position before a race in Superior Bay. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)3 / 5
The mainsail and spinnaker of Arbitrage fills the sky with stark lines and bold color. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)4 / 5
Dave Johnson (right) of Duluth keeps one hand on the rigging for the mainsail while keeping an eye on the competition. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)5 / 5

Sailboats often monopolize the landscape of Lake Superior near Duluth on Wednesday evenings during the summer. The boats are participating in the Duluth Yacht Club Wednesday Night Class Races. From a distance, boats seem to engage in a complex, yet delicate ballet on the surface of the water. The vessels tack and jibe as they zigzag through the race course. Turning downwind, bright spinnakers fill the air with giant sheets of bold color as they push boats forward.

Aboard Sixx, I quickly realize how physical racing sailboats is. Ducking under the boom, stepping over rigging, and trying to stay out of the way of other crewmembers is serious but rewarding work. The boat cuts like a knife through the surface of water, the sound of the wind fades away, and the evening sun keeps the chill away. After crossing the finish line, Dave Johnson of Duluth asks, "Does anyone need to get back right away?" No one objects as the crew practices flying the spinnaker long into the evening.

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