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Brian Lockwood on the 45th Annual Montana Cup Regatta

by David Schmidt 2 Aug 2022 08:00 PDT August 5-7, 2022

Montana isn’t exactly the first place that most people think of when the conversation turns to sailing. While many sailors—your scribe included—visit The Treasure State in winter months, they tend to be seeking the steep and deep at world-class ski resorts like Big Sky. But for sailing, Montana is a bit like Colorado in that it’s home to some dedicated and talented sailors, despite the fact that the state's mountain sports command far more of the limelight than the lake-based pursuits. Fortunately, events like the Montana Cup Regatta help raise the profile of sailboat racing in the Rocky Mountain West, while giving local sailors a great event to gear up for as the summer months unfurl.

The 45th Annual Montana Cup Regatta will be hosted and organized by the North Flathead Yacht Club on the waters of Flathead Lake in Somers, Montana, from August 5-7, 2022.

I checked in with Brian Lockwood, vice commodore of racing at the North Flathead Yacht Club, via email, to learn more about this exciting Rocky Mountain regatta.

How would you describe the culture at the Montana Sailing Championships and Montana Cup Regatta? What about the regatta’s competition level?

The Montana Cup attracts Competitors from all over Montana and the Northwest.

This year, North Flathead is hosting the Northwest Thistle District Championship and will attract top sailors from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.

How many boats are you expecting on the starting line?

This year we are expecting 50 to 60 Boats on the startline.

Are there any limits to the size of boats that can enter? What about the number of hulls?

Most Boats sail in a PHRF class Ranging from 18-foot sportboats to 40-foot keelboats. Multi Hulls are welcome. We have strong One Design fleets like Thistles, J/24s and J/22s, as well as two long-distance race[course]s for cruisers.

Are most boats local to Flathead Lake or does this regatta create regional gravity?

Flathead lake has three different clubs on the lake, but we get a lot of sailors traveling from Canyon Ferry near Helena and Sandpoint Idaho.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter on Flathead Lake in early August? Also, what are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

On clear sunny days we get a great Northern flow in the morning and a strong southern wind in the mid-afternoon.

Last year we Sailed in a consistent 15-knot breeze all day on Saturday. If weather systems are forecasted, we can get stronger southern winds, which adds some wave [action] to the sailing.

How would you describe the breeze on Flathead Lake? For example, how much of an influence do the nearby mountains exert on airflow across the lake?

The traditional breeze in the daytime is either [a] northernly or southerly breeze that the mountains do not effect. If there is a westerly or easterly breeze, the mountains can make for a puffy, unpredictable breeze. The racing area is far enough away from influential landmasses and usually has a very true wind.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting and local sailors, what would be it?

Don't pinch. Come and have fun with great racing, music (Fetviet Brothers) and people

Can you tell us about any recent steps that the regatta has taken to reduce its environmental footprint or otherwise “green-up?

Keeping our lake clean is a top priority on Flathead. Competitors are encouraged to bring their own reusable utensils and plates. The club provides reusable cups for refreshments.

Also, if you are coming from outside of the Flathead Basin you must have your boat inspected for invasive species prior to launching.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add, for the record?

The club is 50 minutes away from Glacier National Park. We have great hikes, biking, rafting and fishing all within minutes of the club.

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