New ocean race sets sail from Galveston this summer
One of the most popular regattas launching out of Texas is changing directions this year. Lakewood Yacht Club organized and ran the biennial Regatta de Amigos between Galveston and Veracruz, Mexico 22 times culminating in the June 2010 race, which coincided with a tall ship gathering to celebrate 200 years of Mexican independence as well as 500 years since the founding of the port of Veracruz by Spanish Conquistadors.
But this year LYC has decided to look east for a domestic destination with its inaugural Galveston to Gulfport Yacht Race (‘G2G’).
“We have run the Regatta de Amigos in even numbered years for a number of years and always enjoyed the destination,” said Regatta Chairman Jim Winton. “However, because of concerns about violence in Mexico and difficulties many racers have had recently getting insurance endorsements to go more than 100 miles offshore, it was decided that an alternative destination should be identified – at least for this year.”
LYC also organizes the annual Harvest Moon Regatta from Galveston to Port Aransas. Rather than plotting a redundant course for that southern destination, Winton said they looked toward other states along the Gulf Coast.
“Races were run from Galveston to Biloxi or Pensacola 15 or more years ago, so we thought we would go east again,” he said. LYC connected with the Gulfport Yacht Club in Mississippi to co-sponsor the new race.
“We have encouraged racers from Gulfport to join in the race but do not know if any will take us up on the invitation,” Winton says.
Gulfport, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, is rapidly recovering. As the second largest city in Mississippi, Gulfport has plenty of restaurants, lots of shopping, six miles of white beaches, and nearby casinos to provide shoreside diversions for the racing crews.
At 425 miles, this year’s destination is 200 miles closer than the Veracruz Race. Organizers see that closer proximity as an advantage.
“Being only a seven-hour drive, or just over a one hour flight, from the Houston/Galveston area, the Gulfport destination will give friends and family a chance to join in the post-race party and activities in the Gulfport/Biloxi area,” Winton said. “It also allows power boaters an opportunity to run the Intracoastal Waterway to join the fun and to enjoy the opportunity to visit the Gulf Islands National Seashore.”
Entry cost is $275 with a $25 discount for US Sailing members. A kickoff party was slated for Feb. 25 with a safety seminar on April 14 and a skippers meeting on May 18.
Organizers hope to have 30 boats in the PHRF fleet on the starting line on May 26. A cruising fleet will launch a day earlier. An awards party is scheduled for May 31 at the Gulfport Yacht Club. The race will be followed on June 15 by the Gulfport to Pensacola Race sponsored by the Southern Yacht Club (southernyachtclub.org). Last year, that race drew three-dozen entries. Winton hopes many of the Texas fleet will remain in Gulfport for the event. Visit galvestontogulfport.com for details.