Published: February 2014 Southern Boating
© 2014 Troy Gilbert
With boating season warming up on the Gulf Coast, thoughts are turning to cruising destinations with white sand beaches or docking up at waterfront seafood restaurants with friends and family. While everyone has their favorite port of call, often overlooked as cruising destinations are the sailing regattas held throughout the Gulf Coast. Whether you own a sailboat or have always been a powerboater, these events offer an unmatched boating experience as an on-the-water spectator to the action. Afterwards the marinas and yacht clubs fill for the legendary post-regatta parties with their live music, food and sailors from throughout the Gulf Coast . These regattas should be on your radar for 2014 and all have facilities to accommodate transient cruisers.
Dauphin Island Race – April 26-27: Over 100 sailboats participate in this regatta which has become an institution on Mobile Bay. In 2014, competitors start at Mobile Yacht Club near the entrance to the Dog River and sail to Dauphin Island. The barrier island is then host to a seemingly unending array of festivities for the sailors and “racer chasers” until the return race the next day.
Gulfport to Pensacola Race – June 21-22: This 100nm distance race along the southern reaches of the Gulf Islands starts in Gulfport, Mississippi and finishes at the entrance to Pensacola Bay. The oak lined grounds of the Pensacola Yacht Club then plays host to the crews from nearly 100 competing sailboats as they stream in over the course of two days. Sailors throughout the Gulf Coast will tell you that PYC’s bushwhackers and hospitality are not to be missed.
Gulf Yachting Association’s Challenge Cup – June 27-29: The premier inter-yacht club sailing championship will be held in Pensacola, Florida in 2014. The top sailors from the Gulf Coast race hard on 4-boat teams representing their yacht clubs over the course of this long weekend and retire to the beautiful grounds of the Pensacola Yacht Club every afternoon for the parties.
Lake Pontchartrain Racing Circuit – October 24-26: Buoy and distance racing comprise the three days of this preeminent regatta on Lake Pontchartrain. With events hopping between all three of the major clubs on Lake Pontchartrain in pursuit of the famed Red Jacket of the LPRC, this is easily the largest regatta in New Orleans with plenty of post racing action at the clubs and on the piers. The epicenter in 2014 will be New Orleans’ West End and the Southern Yacht Club.
Throughout the year, there are easily 100’s of major and minor regattas throughout the Gulf Coast – far too many to list here. Racing and event schedules can be found at GYA.org or on the individual yacht club’s websites.