The headlights on Dan Eigen's Ford Lariat are casting a glare off the narrow neighborhood road directly in front of his rig. The pavement is wet. The clock on the dash says 7:45 a.m., but the darkness and the incessant drizzle make it seem earlier — much earlier. Eigen's mind is busy. Is it my imagination … or is the road getting narrower? What's over this hill? Where am I? And then, to his exasperation, I tell him we missed our turn and need to turn the truck and boat around. Eigen looks at me, his messenger. His eyes disclose what's kicking around in his head: Are you kidding?
Yes, it happens. When towing, lots of "it" happens. So we re-created four such "its" for a contest between three guys who spend more time with boats in tow than without. None of our Olympians knew what was coming until they were actually stuck in a squeeze. How they strategized their individual escapes, well, those are the lessons for us, the spectators.
The Personable Angler
Name: Walleye Dan Eigen
Rig: Ford F-150 Lariat and Ranger 620 VS
Credentials: As a fishing guide and Dad, he trailers the boat every day from April to November.
Precontest Quote: "As a guide I have to multitask, which helps me behind the wheel. I can talk and drive, but there are times when you need to tune things out."
Name: John Linn
Rig: Chevy 3500 Dually, Lance 1121 Camper, Tigé 24 Ve
Credentials: This boat photographer was towing ski boats before getting his driver's license 20 years ago.
Precontest Quote: "My Dad would let me do things to stretch my abilities, figure things out. I know if there's a way to get into a spot, there's a way to get out."
The Unflappable One
Name: Fred Leisenheimer
Rig: Ford F350 with cap and Larson LXi 238
Credentials: He has trailered boats around the country for Larson the past 21 years, accident-free.
Precontest Quote: "I've done this long enough that I can go with the flow. Like this morning, I came up on a farmer going 10 mph and just had to wait it out."