Regattas are a way of life for many on Texas coast
There’s a long history of yacht racing in these parts. Chalk it up to competitive instinct — where there’s water, there will be boats and where there are boats, regattas.
“If you wanted to, you could probably race every weekend in some regatta on Galveston Bay, and that’s only a slight exaggeration,” Albrecht Goethe, who races Hamburg, a 35-foot J/Boat, said.
Although known for its speed, the boat’s weight makes it difficult to transport, which is why Goethe stays close to home for the most part. In 10 years, he’s skippered 150 regattas aboard Hamburg, and all but one began in nearby waters.
Cabins may be more modern and navigation devices more technical, but some aspects of the culture remain unchanged.
For one, it’s a gentleman’s sport.
“Like in golf, it’s left up to the competitors to rectify a foul,” said Mike Janota, director of the Galveston Community Youth Sailing Center.
Also, there’s the traditional fanfare that bookends a regatta, from ceremonial start to after-party.
“You get this thrill when you turn the corner coming out of the Galveston channel to the start line. It’s just a beautiful scene,” Jack Seitzinger said of the Harvest Moon Regatta, which he was instrumental in organizing this year.
Regattas, as it turns out, are like knots; there are a lot of different ones. There are match races, such as the America’s Cup, fleet races and team races on buoyed, inshore, offshore and, for those immune to seasickness, oceanic courses.
“With day races, for the most part, you start in the morning and then you’re back at the local yacht club having a drink with your friends in the afternoon,” Janota said.
Longer races lead crews outside protected waters and into less predictable territory.
Janota battled high winds and 20-foot waves as part of a crew in the two-week Transpacific Yacht Race from San Francisco to Kaneohe, Hawaii.
“Seven days were absolutely horrible with tropical storm conditions and the last seven days were amazingly pleasant,” Janota said.
The sport can get expensive.
In 2008, as national financial instability loomed, Hurricane Ike lowered the boom.
“It was a double hit here,” Goethe said. “There was a pretty substantial decline in the number of folks that went to races.”
But, there’s a shining beacon of hope at the tail end of construction of the Sea Scout Base Galveston, 7509 Broadway, on the island. The complex is anchored by a 60,000 square-foot building with a bounty of resources to support the next generation of sailors and is home to the Community Youth Sailing Center, which is already offering some classes.
“Now that we’re building this incredible facility, the only one like it in the country, I think you will see a local resurgence,” Janota said.
Visit ssbgalveston.org for information about Sea Scout Base Galveston and Community Youth Sailing.
2014 U.S. Disabled Sailing Championship
Wednesday Night Races
Turkey Day Regatta