15th Annual Harkers Island Regatta Draws 51 Sunfish for Three-day Sailing Event

Posted July 21, 2016

15th Annual Harkers Island Regatta Draws 51 Sunfish For Three-day Sailing Event

Author: Rob Eberle

And…they’re off! Not the boats, the crabs! The crowd cajoled and hooted around a ten-foot circle, each hoping their chosen crab would cross the finish line first. Thus began the racing on a historic island off the coast of central North Carolina.

After a heavy wind practice sail around the island Friday, the participants were tired but no one missed the evening’s kick-off party featuring music by Barefoot Wade, a one-man Caribbean jam band. Goslings fueled the blender “sports” bar as gambling commenced for the crab races. Have no fear – the crabs were coddled and all were returned to their natural homes.

My Own Bloody Yacht Club’s 15th annual drew Atlantic coast locals and travelers from California, Michigan, New York and Florida for racing July 16th & 17th in what has come to be a major Sunfish Class event. Competitors return for the beautiful venue, sea breeze, shoreside parties and southern hospitality. Proceeds from the regatta fund scholarships at the Edward Teach Youth Sailing Program in New Bern, Bow to Stern Youth Sailing Program in Oriental and Friends of the Museum Junior Sailing Program in Beaufort, NC.

A challenging ten-mile race around the island Saturday was sailed in a gusty 15-25 knot southwest sea breeze. With an unusual twist in racing, sailors may choose the direction they circumnavigate the island. With the prospect of sailing downwind through the shallow marshes all but two boats sailed clockwise towards the western end of the island. 

The first leg was roughly five miles along the exposed side of the island. This year it was a tight reach with wind against the tide producing a nasty, pounding chop. Some carnage ensued with several boats sustaining breakdowns worthy of a tow to shore. Lee Montes from Wet Pants Yacht Club, NY led the fleet around the western end of the island but was overtaken by local Oriental, NC Sunfish dealer Paul Welles. After passing through a narrow drawbridge Welles carried a big lead into the maze of marshes but strayed out of deep water and ground to a halt. Three boats passed by and a dogfight for the last three miles to the finish began. Martin Willard of Wrightsville Beach, NC edged out Montes for line honors by nine seconds with Jamie Deale of Southport, NC close behind and Welles holding onto fourth. Additional awards went to the top youth finisher Dennis Carter of Chapel Hill, NC; top female Gwen Scott from Michigan; top grandmaster Jack Bond of Oriental, NC; and top beater class Emily Hein of Williamsburg, VA. 

A traditional low-country boil was served Saturday night complete with steamed clams, rum cake dessert contest, Dark & Stormy bar and a videotape replay of the day’s race.

The god’s looked humbly upon the weary competitors for short course racing Sunday with a steady 7-10 knot sea breeze and modest current. Four windward-leeward races were completed with Gwen Scott posting the most consistent finishes, George Midyette of Oriental, NC in second and Alex Dean of Raleigh, NC third.  Awards for the two days of racing consisted of traditional trophies supplemented by fresh crabmeat and a large array of Sunfish and other sailing gear.

The regatta was made possible through generous contributions by Goslings Rum, Wells Fargo Advisors, Hightower Communications, United Yacht Sales of the Carolinas, Annapolis Performance Sailing, Intensity Sails, Triton Yacht Sales, Deaton Yacht Service, Triton Yachts, Sailcraft Services, Wayfarer’s Cove Marine, Eberle Marine Surveys, Ella Vickers, Mad River Designs, Town Creek Marine, The Cloth Barn and Prospective Technologies. For more information on Sunfish racing in North Carolina contact Rob Eberle at eberlemarine@gmail.com or (252) 670-1976.


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