The 2016 Can-Am Fort Peck Sailing Regatta was a fun time, and by all accounts, another great success. Mother nature provided us with a nice breeze both days, no rain or storms, and none of the high winds that blew us out on Saturday of last year. A total of 14 boats raced this year, double that of the previous two years! Our Canadian friends and mentors stepped up their presence this year, adding sailors new to our regatta David Cormack, Tina Schofer, Andrea Carins and Finn Griggs. Andrea and Finn were here all week coaching the Optimist Sailing School along with our own Caleb Gilliam of Billings who also sailed in the Regatta. First time racers this year were locals Dustin Vanloozen on a Laser, my wife Melissa on a Hobie Wave, my brother Jason Sigmundstad and his family aboard their new 1975 Catalina 22 "Super C," and myself aboard our beloved Catalina 30 "Isla Bella" along with first timer crew Chris Taylor. Coach Finn Griggs sailed with us Saturday morning and offered excellent tactical and right-of-way advice. Later he transferred to Dan Hohman's "Sea Scout" boat to give them some help. Saturday gave us winds from 8-15kts and excellent sailing. The races were conducted by Primary Race Officer John Cormack from Lake Newell Sailing in Brooks Alberta. Consistent with prior years, John created a well-run event and was always encouraging people and keeping everyone smiling with his good humor.
After the races we all enjoyed a delectable feast sponsored in part and cooked to perfection by the friendly crew at the Fort Peck Marina. After dinner we enjoyed live music in the form of a casual jam session by some talented local pickers and crooners, ukulele and harmonica players. We auctioned off a few items that had been donated by local artists and such. The funds will help to grow the Fort Peck Sailing Club.
Sunday, the waves were pretty big from the wind that blew all night, but the morning winds were just about perfect. Several more races took place before we gathered back at the Marina for lunch and a short awards presentation. Here are the results:
In the Laser Class:
1st David Cormack (Alberta)
2nd David Elliot (Alberta)
3rd Page Anderson (Fort Peck)
4th Tim Ogrinc (Glasgow)
5th Dustin Vanloozen (Fort Peck)
In the Laser Radial Class:
1st Caleb Gilliam (Billings)
2nd Andrea Carins (Alberta)
3rd Tina Shofer (Alberta)
Hobie Wave Catamarans:
A Tie between Julie Burke (Fort Peck) and Melissa Sigmundstad (Glasgow)
The Keel Boats were a diverse group of four boats and we were not able to equalize them for any meaningful ranking, so they were given recognition for triumphs in the way they sailed.
American 27 “Sea Scout” Dan Hohman (Wolf Point)
MacGregor 26, Doug Long (Wolf Point)
Catalina 22 “Super C”, Jason Sigmundstad (Glasgow)
Catalina 30 “Isla Bella”, Rafe Sigmundstad (Glasgow)
This regatta is a little different, Cormack explained. At serious sanctioned events with large numbers of boats, things are much more formal. For example, the race committee on the signal boat cannot speak to the sailors, leaving only flags and horn blasts to communicate. Nobody provides any help on the course, either. Competition is fierce and you're on your own. The Can-Am Fort Peck Sailing Regatta however, is a fun learning experience. John is frequently on the radio providing words of encouragement and helpful advice such as, "come on guys, sheet in! Get going! One minute to go!" He also asked the more experienced sailors to give helpful tips when they can throughout the races. Most the local sailors here have not been around regattas before. We're new to racing and all that entails. It may take generations to develop a mature sailing culture like that of our neighbors. But for now, I think the friendly teaching approach is just right. The race seminar on Friday is a good example of the focus on education. Every year, we learn more. Every year, it gets better. This was a fantastic event, and the people involved are wonderful.
Special thanks to John and Janet Cormack. We wouldn't want to do this without you, if we even could! Thank you to Andrea, Finn and Caleb for all your work coaching the youngsters all week in the Opti School. Thank you to all the parents and kids. Thank you to our sponsors. Your support has made this happen. Thank you to all the sailors who came. Thank you to the volunteers who freely gave their time to help wherever needed: Harold and Joanne, John and Mary, Meagan, Ashlyn, Cassie, Daniel, Dane, Ralph, Shannon and Joe, Jen, Dan, Cole. You're all great! God Bless you and many other people who I have failed to mention, but they got things done. A most sincere thank you to my wife, Melissa. She supports all my sailing-related endeavors, caters food for the regatta, helps with organizing and all the details, sponsorships, t-shirts, advertising and much more. Finally I have to acknowledge the two people who had the vision for any of this, who dreamed up and created the first regatta here, who founded this sailing club, and who continue to pour their hearts and souls into this: Julie and Page. I love you all! --Rafe