Fort Peck Gains Sailors Through Summer Sailstice

July 14, 2016 by Monica Grant

Fort Peck Sailing Club is possibly one of the newest sailing clubs in existence, but it’s certainly not going unnoticed. This thriving young club began its life in the summer of 2015 and has taken sailing by the sheets to engage people of all ages in the great sport. This year was only the second time that Fort Peck members used their Summer Sailstice celebrations to promote sailing and educate the public about sailing by gathering all their available skippers and boats to offer free sailboat rides, and it's making a difference. According to Commodore, Rafe Sigmundstad the club is beginning to change the appearance of the lake, as sailboat numbers are increasing and holding their own amid the motorized boats and pontoons which have traditionally dominated the waters. 

For the past decade, it would have been extremely rare to see more than one sailboat on the water. But that is beginning to change. Looking around the marina bay during this year’s Sailstice celebration, there were 3 keelboats, 2 Hobie Cats and a few Lasers slicing through the wakes of jetskis, fishing boats and the popular pontoons,’ Rafe said. 

Take a look at the footage from Fort Peck Lake:

Fort Peck Lake is a large body of water set within the prairies and badlands of northeastern Montana. The human population density is very low, and government control has restricted development around the lake to almost nothing. The resulting lack of infrastructure means that all boaters here must be Do-It-Yourselfers by necessity. On the bright side, there are no crowds. You can sail for hours without encountering another person.

The weekend’s sailing was a first for many of the 57 guests who took part, and for some, the beginning of a new passion. Fort Peck Sailing Club is hosting a week-long Opti Sailing School in August. Rafe said Summer Sailstice has helped ‘spark interest’ in the event among young sailors who will attend the school and learn from professional instructors.

The club is brand new,’ Rafe said, ‘gaining its first members this spring. By way of volunteers and donations, we will be hosting a regatta for the third year in a row, and the third time ever on this reservoir. Like any venture, there are countless forms, permits, bureaucracy and obstacles to get through. But one thing everyone can agree on, is that sailing is a good thing; that promoting and educating people about sailing is a worthy cause.

Sailstice is the summer kick-off for this sailing club, a tradition that will likely continue for years to come. We were proud to be a part of it, and happy to share a connection with other sailors worldwide who feel alike.

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