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Sailing Story: Bill Reed

textEven though Bill Reed began sailing nearly 50 years ago, his first memories on a sailboat are still as vivid as ever.

“My dad had a Morgan 36 in Clearwater Beach, Florida,” he explained. “The first time I ever hoisted a sail was on that boat.”

Bill fondly remembers how those first experiences on the Morgan 36 and then his dad’s Sailfish created a lifelong passion.  “The first thing [my dad] did was put me on the tiller so I could feel what the boat felt like and I was hooked,” he said. 

“I was convinced as a kid I was going to be one of those sailors in Mutiny on the Bounty,” he laughed. “That’s before I knew better!”

In the late 70s, Bill moved to Whitefish Montana with his mom, however, his sailing dreams didn’t falter. “Instead of being a cowboy I wanted to be a sailor,” he said. “My mom bought us a Laser and we used to sail in Wednesday Night Races.”

While many things in Bill’s life changed as he grew older, sailing remained a constant. When he was laid off from the Columbia Falls Aluminium Plant prior to its permanent closure, he found himself teaching sailing lessons on Flathead Lake. 

“I wasn’t even a certified instructor at the time,” he explained. However, informally teaching sailing on Flathead was how he met Genevieve Evans.

“Genevieve showed up one day and she took a lesson from me,” he said. “And all of a sudden she was off to the races— she’s amazing!” 

After two lessons from Bill, Genevieve “just took that knowledge and ran with it,” he laughed. “Now we have a sailing school in Montana because of her!”

For Bill the irony is not lost that while she was once his student, she then became the one to eventually qualify him as an ASA instructor. “A former instructor…to become her student of ASA,” he marveled. “I’m so proud of her.”

Bill and Genevieve remain close friends and have sailed through both great times and rocky times together.

“I’ve just been dealing with cancer this year so I’ve missed a whole sailing season except for a few times being able to get out with Geneiveve,” he explained. However, Bill is confident next year will tell a much different story. 

“My cancer is in full 100% remission,” he said. “As soon as we can launch I’m looking forward to another racing season.” 

With a strong sailing community in the Flathead and an unwavering passion for being out on the water, Bill knows he’s in for an upcoming season of smooth sailing. 

“I’ve ended up with this group that are some of my favorite people,” he explained. “We’re looking to be back on the Flathead Lake circuit again.”