September 01st, 2023
The Blackbeard Sailing Club is located in the back of a gated community surrounded by coastal water not far from New Bern, NC. As sailors headed to the Gurganus Regatta on a hot August Friday, the neighborhood was abound with smiles from residents walking their dogs and golfers enjoying their favorite past time. Rounding the corner and passing through the gate to the marina, it appeared nice, but felt like it was going to be crowded when the 60 registered boats show up. A huge air conditioned shower building, great campsites, and a raised clubhouse overlooking the mouth of Upper Broad Creek and out into the Neuse River were all part of the grounds.
Several sailors went out to enjoy the double digit breeze and warm up for Saturday’s racing. As others arrived and began rigging up, you could sense some angst from some of the multihull “beach launchers”. The 420 crowd, however, was not at all concerned that they had 12 boats stuffed along the tiny beach. They were young and focused on more important things. Along the same lines, the Sunfish sailors that frequented the Club were not bothered by the crowd of boats on the beach.
On Friday evening, Blackbeard Sailing Club provided a picnic dinner with libations with an informative rules seminar.
At the Saturday morning skipper’s meeting, we learned that the Wētās and Isotope Catamarans would be the first race start of the day. Some of the multihull sailors were getting more anxious as the club’s shore director explained that the Wētās and Isotopes would be last to launch. More anxiety since we were all sandwiched in between the 420's and Sunfish. Did I mention first start of the day, last off the beach? Skipper’s meeting ended. Sails started going up. Trailered boats started streaming into the water on two ramps. The 420 crews were calmly milling about and chatting away. Anxiety builds. Are they going to go? The Sunfish fleet slips off a bank (not the beach) and were off to the races. Finally, the 420's hit the water in an orderly manner that resembled a flock of sea birds flushing from a grass shoreline and heading out to sea. Wētās and Isotopes launched without incident and we all headed out to the course. The Wētās passed everyone on the way to the committee boat (because we are faster). We all got there in PLENTY of time. It was like the race committee knew this all along. Like they had done it before a time or two.
Much angst about nothing! The shore crew did an outstanding job directing where fleets were to park. It went off without a hitch. It has amazed me all summer that these sailing clubs can pull off these open regattas with an all volunteer force. Sailing is fun and clearly a lot of people think so. So these 60 or so boats, with all levels of experience, made it safely out to the race course where the PRO and his race committee (also volunteers) put on a great day of racing.
Alan Taylor - 1st place
Gizmo the Sailor Pup