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Harvest Moon Regatta at Lakewood Yacht Club

by J/Boats 16 Nov 2018 19:00 PST 25-28 October 2018
Harvest Moon Regatta at Lakewood Yacht Club © JM Rogers

Nearly 120 sailing yachts of all shapes and builds milled about under overcast skies as they awaited their gun to begin the 150.0 nm trek from Galveston Island to Port Aransas, TX.

The Harvest Moon Regatta, run annually by Lakewood Yacht Club, is the largest port-to-port sailing regatta on the U.S. gulf coast.

This year, the regatta was returning for the first time to Port Aransas after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. The grand finale to Texas's sailing season, there would be upwards of 1,500 sailors, family and friends at the Welcome Sailor Rum Party (aka the "Bacardi Party" named after Founding Sponsor Bacardi Rum) at the newly rebuilt Dennis Dryer Municipal Harbor in Port Aransas.

Although the conditions at the start line were gray and gusty, the forecast was calling for clearing skies and moderating winds. It would be a gorgeous night of sailing under twinkling stars with a brilliant, full harvest moon to light the way!

Six J/Boats entered the regatta. So it was an astounding accomplishment when it was announced that J/Boats had swept the podium in the premier racing division, which was sailed under the ORC rating rule.

J.D. and Susan Hill's J/122 Second Star took home the prestigious Bacardi Cup and the overall win. John Barnett's J/105 PESTO was second overall and first in ORC Division B, and James Liston's J/120 Aeolus rounded out the "J" podium sweep by coming in third overall and second in ORC Division A.

"Based on the tracks of the winning boats over the years, the odds greatly favor those who can sail fast along the rhumb line," said J.D. Hill, skipper of Second Star. "But this year was different," said Hill. "Because our forecasts showed the weather clearing with breeze getting lighter and turning clockwise, even though we would sail a longer route, we went offshore so we could sail almost the entire race powered up with a kite."

Then next morning as the wind veered from northwest to northeast, boats that followed the traditional wisdom of sailing along the rhumb line found themselves pointing at the shore, where they would then have to beat or close reach to the finish in light breeze and an adverse current.

"This was truly a team win," according to Hill. "Not only did we sail the optimal route, but I'm pretty sure we were the first boat to put up a kite, and the last one to take them down. We did eight sail changes during the night to keep Second Star perfectly powered up, and rarely did anyone go below for an off-watch cat nap. It was so nice out, and we were so excited by the way the race was playing out, that everyone wanted to stay on deck and contribute."

The City of Port Aransas worked round-the-clock to have the harbor renovations completed in time for the regatta, and their efforts paid off. The new facility is bigger and better than ever– truly a first-class facility.

"We had a great time at the Bacardi Party too," said Hill. "Lots of competitors were walking the docks, so we had the opportunity to meet new friends and invite them onboard. Due to the J/122's performance, I guess most people just assume it's a stripped-out racing sled. Visitors were surprised to see below, where we were entertaining in air-conditioned comfort from a stylish and elegantly appointed 'cruiser' salon."

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