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SPOKANE, Wash. – Taking the helm of a racing sailboat is sort of like running a credit union, if you ask Steve Dahlstrom. “We have a saying on our boat. It takes six people to sail it. One to hold the tiller and the other five to tell him which direction to go,” says the president and CEO of Spokane Teachers Credit Union. “It’s kind of like having a board of directors, too,” he said, adding: “And I’ve got a good one!” When he’s not at the helm of his $653 million CU, Dahlstrom often can be found aboard the Spirit, the 33-foot mono-hull Hobie he and his sailing partners berth at Lake Pend Oreille about an hour away in northern Idaho. In addition to sharing ownership of a rare boat (“They only made about 150 of these,” Dahlstrom said), the veteran CU manager also is one of the relatively few folks who can say they learned to sail in Montana. “I know that sounds odd, but there are some huge lakes there,” said Dahlstrom, who grew up in Missoula and began his career afloat in Flathead Lake.”It’s 26 miles long, seven miles wide and a great place to sail,” he said. “When it’s not frozen.” Dahlstrom and his partners are avid racers, competing at their home lake and in Montana, as well as the occasional foray onto the saltwater off Seattle and California, even New Zealand, where they took in the America’s Cup race and did some sailing on their own. “Sailing is the only sport in the world where you can be petrified going six miles an hour,” Dahlstrom said with a laugh. “There’s also a standing joke that sailing is like standing in a shower tearing up $100 bills.” “We’ve had a mast break and go over the side, which was scary and not particularly fun, but we’ve also sailed in 20-foot swells off Santa Cruz, which was fun and pretty exciting,” he said. As for comparisons between his hobby and his job at the CU he’s headed since 1990, Dahlstrom said they include appreciating the value of teamwork and of anticipation. “You watch for warning signs, try to anticipate what’s going to happen, and communicate with your team to get ready to respond,” he said. “And you really do have to watch the way the wind blows.” [email protected]

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