Thistles, some stacked on trailers two or three high, were already arriving Thursday afternoon as a stiff breeze moved through Sandpoint.
Chris Chambers checked the weather and knew the wind wouldn’t last into Monday, but it was a good welcome for the sailors arriving in the North Idaho city, some of whom had driven three or four days to be there.
“Our expectation this weekend is to actually get these boats launched, in the water and have a nice reception for them Sunday night,” said Chambers, one of the event’s organizers. “Just trying to manage the chaos.”
Sixty-seven boats are registered for this week’s Thistle Nationals Regatta, the largest event of the year for the Thistle class of sailboat. Thistles are a one-design racing boat with a three-person crew. About 4,050 such boats exist.
“This boat was designed and developed in the 1940s and it has a huge, popular following,” Chamber said. “It has survived the test of time.”
Races start Monday and run through Friday.
Many of the boats and the sailors came from the East Coast, where the style is most popular. Members of the Sandpoint Sailing Association, like Chambers, are eager for them to enjoy their time in a city many have never visited.
Boats will launch from City Beach but will be hauled up to the fairgrounds to minimize the impact on the rest of the city, for which, Chambers admitted, this is one of the busiest times of year.
Lake Pend Oreille has never hosted Thistle Nationals, which rotates annually. In 2016, Eugene hosted, and Flathead Lake in Montana has in the past. This is the event’s 74th year.
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