More than 250 sailors from around the country will be racing over 170 sailboats on Clarks Hill Lake this weekend to compete in the Augusta Sailing Club’s 69th annual Halloween Regatta. Youth and adults will be competing in several races over two days.
Sailors will compete in several “one design” classes in which all boats in a race are identical and whoever completes the race course first wins. “One design” classes racing will include Sunfish, Lasers, Open Skiff, Optimist, Club 420, Melges 15, Y-Flyer, Vanguard 15, MC Scow, and E Scow. Large keelboats will race in a handicap format in which winners are determined by corrected times across the finish line.
This regatta is an important event for the 40-plus Laser Class sailors who are racing on Clarks Hill Lake as part of the North American district championship series for the International Laser Class Association (ILCA). Winners earn points for their national and international rankings. For youth sailors, this weekend is part of the South Atlantic Yacht Racing Association (SAYRA) Junior Grand Prix Championship series.
Youth, ages six to 19, will be competing in all classes of sailboats, including Optimists, Lasers, Sunfish, and Open Skiffs. The Open Skiff is a small, fast boat with a modern, carbon rig and Mylar sails designed specifically for kids. It is built for fun and excitement and is a popular international class, with over 10,000 boats worldwide.
Some classic sailboat designs will be racing this weekend as well. The Y-Flyer, designed in 1938 as a wooden homebuilt, has seen a recent resurgence in popularity, with old boats restored and new fiberglass boats built. The E Scow class celebrates their 100th anniversary this year. The original design has been modernized with foil rudders, carbon bow sprits, and large asymmetrical spinnakers that can propel these 28-foot boats faster than the wind. Y-Flyers and E Scows are fast lake boats and fun to watch compete.
Races will be held just above the dam beginning at 12:00 p.m. Saturday and 10:00 a.m. Sunday. Races usually last an hour, and there will be several races both days, depending on weather and wind conditions. The best place for public viewing from shore is from Lake Springs or West Dam recreation areas on the Georgia side and the visitor center or Clarks Hill recreation area on the South Carolina side.
Spectators on the water are also welcome, but powerboats should keep well clear of racing sailboats and support boats. Race courses are marked with yellow, orange, or green inflatable buoys. Spectator boats should be mindful of wakes and not steer through race courses. If the wind is light, powerboat wakes can have a negative impact on a competitor’s race and affect their chances at a national or regional championship.
Those interested in registering to race can visit the www.augustasailingclub.com website. Registration must be completed prior to racing. A competitor’s meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the Augusta Sailing Club grounds.