Microburst topples 13 boats taking part in Buccaneer North American Championships on Lake Dillon

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. - An apparent microburst threw dozens of boaters into the water at Dillon Reservoir Thursday.

The sudden downdraft of wind from storm clouds occurred late in the afternoon and toppled 13 sailboats taking part in the Buccaneer North American Championships, part of the annual Dillon Regatta, at the reservoir.

"The squall hit about 5:30 p.m., and within seconds the [boats'] two-person crews were in the water," said Steve Lipsher, spokesman for the Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.

"All of a sudden, you know, the boat's going way faster than we -- than it should, and then it just went over," said 16-year-old sailor Max Williams.

Said Lipsher, "The sailors had been prepared for the possibility, with most wearing wetsuits, but it was the fast reaction of other boaters who rushed to their aid helped pluck them from the frigid water."

Surface temperatures in the reservoir in August typically range from 55 degrees to 65 degrees -- too cold for human tolerance of more than a few minutes.

"Very cold," said Williams.

"I'm a lot better than I was," said sailor Cameron Holland. "Out there, I was…" and then he mimicked shivering.

A Summit County Sheriff's Department boat was already patrolling the water during the race and was quickly used to pluck sailors out of the water.

"If we had to pick a place to tip over for the first time, this is a good one. We'd never tipped over before," said sailor John Weiss. "I would definitely call it refreshing."

Crews from Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue, the Summit County Ambulance and the Summit County Sheriff's Office were among those who took pontoon boats out to the sailors. The racers were taken back to shore, where they dried off and warmed up.

7NEWS Meteorologist Matt Makens reported winds of around 30 mph on the southeastern edge of the lake.

"The thing is we've got valleys that kind of drain into this reservoir from all sorts of different directions and they funnel the winds," said Lipsher.

Fortunately, he added, "Everyone escaped injury."

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