Man is master of the waves at Lake Pepin

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By John Weiss

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

LAKE CITY — Dr. Joe and Candace Kolars’ aging sailboat is suffering wood rot, and the Rochester couple is deciding whether to repair it or buy another one.

That left them adrift on land, a couple in need of their sailing fix.

Enter Warren Wong.


"Warren knows we need to sail," Joe Kolars said. "He called and said, "Let’s go sailing."

The Rochester couple said yes and were onboard Warren and Ginny Wong’s sailboat, the Mei Xun (beautiful boat), Saturday on a windy day that was great for sailing.

They are the new face of sailing on the big lake, with only five years on Pepin while the Wongs are the veterans of 40 years. They made a great team, with Warren and Joe avidly setting sails after motoring out of Lake City Marina and Ginny at the wheel. Later, Candace would take the wheel, learning to handle a big boat.

Joe said he grew up in Richfield, a Minneapolis suburb, and learned to sail on Lake Superior.

"It’s an opportunity to me to try to harness nature," he said. He could race but prefers the more relaxing days on the water with friends and family.

Candace also grew up in Richfield but didn’t get into sailing until later in life. Like her husband, she is more of a social sailor. "I don’t mind when it’s exhilarating," she said. "I just love being out on the boat, I love the quiet."

When they came to Rochester nine years ago, they put their names on the marina list to get a slip. When one was available, they needed a boat. A friend said, talk to Wong, he’s Pepin’s godfather of sail, the man who can help you find what you need, not what you might think you want.

"Warren was my docent for sailing Lake Pepin," Joe said.


Wong talked with them about how they want to sail. He stressed that the boat belongs to the whole family, not just one member. You all have to want to sail.

They also learned why so many have enjoyed learning to sail with him. "I think it’s his attitude and commitment to developing kids," Joe said. "His presence gives people the confidence to stretch into new roles."

When his wife was at the wheel and Wong’s boat was going fast, she found she had to stretch her abilities to learn to handle that boat in heavier waves. With his feet up and looking relaxed, she could know that all was well. "Warren is always like that," she said. "He’s just so calm."

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