It's Thursday night. Most people are getting off work and heading home to decompress after their day at the office, looking forward to the weekend ahead. But in Sandpoint, there's a buzz happening at the Windbag Marina, on the scenic shores of Lake Pend Oreille. At 5:30 pm, a gathering of sailors of all abilities takes place at Fred's Deck for the Thursday night fun races. This is known as the Skippers Meeting, where representatives from the Sandpoint Sailing Association give an overview of the course for that evening and match up crew and boats. Then, quickly, the boats are off to the starting line.
Once the sailboats are out of the marina, they make their way to the starting line, where horns blow to indicate the starting sequence, a five-minute time frame that can only be described as chaotic. There's tacking, jibing and good camaraderie, all while seamlessly gliding across the water, using only the wind. There's no cost, though most boats encourage you to bring a frosty cold one to raise after the race is done. In addition to learning about the exhilarating sport of sailboat racing, there's an amazing opportunity to take in expansive views of Schweitzer Mountain Resort and the Cabinet Mountain range. ♦
Location: Windbag Marina, Sandpoint, Idaho
Date: Thursday, July 24, 5:30 pm - sailing continues every Thursday through Labor Day
Distance sailed: 6 to 10 miles
Wind speed: 1 to 15 mph