Please select your home edition
Edition
Vaikobi 2024 LEADERBOARD

An interview with Roger Howard on the Redfish Reach and Catamaran Conundrum

by David Schmidt 19 Oct 2022 08:00 PDT October 22-23, 2022

Few things are finer than flying a hull at a mid-October regatta. If this sounds like your kind of gravity, the annual Redfish Reach and Catamaran Conundrum (October 22-23, 2022), which is being hosted by the (virtual) Texas City Dike Yacht Club (virtually situated in the greater Houston area), could be your kind of game.

The Redfish Reach and Catamaran Conundrum is open to any beach catamaran or Hobie Adventure Island (AI) or Tandem Island (TI) craft, which will get split into spinnaker, non-spinnaker, and Hobie AI or TI classes. Sunday's Conundrum is open to all production catamarans, and Sunday's race will be scored as one large fleet.

I checked in with Roger Howard, commodore of the Texas City Dike Yacht Club, to learn more about this exciting mid-autumn multihull regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Redfish Reach and Catamaran Conundrum, how it got its colorful moniker, its history and culture, and the kinds of sailors that one can expect to find here?

The original regatta started over 20 years ago and was a one-day distance event. The sailors start from the Texas City Dike and sail NNW to Redfish Island 11 miles away, round the island and finish back at the Texas City Dike. This course is inside of the expansive Galveston Bay complex.

It is not uncommon for the sailors to have a reach in both directions due to the winds in the fall. A few years ago, we were approached about changing it to a two-day event due to some of the distance's sailors traveled to attend. The first year we did some fixed mark racing, the second we conducted buoy races.

Last year we turned it into a conundrum style race where we have a rounding mark at the beach and three fixed/dropped course marks that each sailor must round for the race. The sailors can round the course marks in any order but must return to the rounding mark each time they round a course mark. The results are quite fun as you never really know who is in the lead since you have boats sailing to all three course marks at the same time.

These races are scored as two different regattas as we have some folks that come for the distance race alone.

This Redfish Reach portion tends to draw some of the older sailors in the area who thrive with distance races. However, we see crews of all age ranges competing.

What kind of entry numbers are you seeing ahead of this year's regatta? Also, where do most competitors hail from? Any geographical concentrations?

Our normal entry numbers run from the mid-twenties to the mid-thirties. Five years ago we were approached by a Hobie Tandem Island/Adventure Island group about competing in the Redfish Reach portion of the regatta. We decided to allow the class, and their numbers have grown every year. The first year we had three of the Kayaks compete and last year the field was seven. Those guys are tough, doing over 22 miles on the open part of Galveston Bay. The water conditions are pretty rough at times.

About two-thirds of our competitors are local to the Houston Galveston area, but we do have sailors travel from all over Texas and Louisiana to sail in this event.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter on the waters of Galveston Bay (near the Texas City Dike) in late October? Also, what are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

In late October there is no telling what we may have weatherwise. We have had days where boats drifted most of the day to be pushed home by a swing in the wind bringing those in the back of the pack up to the leaders.

Imagine 25-35 beach cats finishing within five minutes of each other in 15-18 knots of wind after sitting in zero-to-four knots all day.

We have also had to deal with strong cold fronts that plummet temps 30 degrees before the start and winds blowing from the North at 15-20, which puts the first 11 miles dead into the wind with a screaming downwind second leg.

Our best-case scenario is when we have steady east winds 12-15 from the east and the sailors have two reaching legs for the entire race. We find out who can go downwind for sure.

In the ideal world, how many races do you and the other organizers hope to score?

For this regatta we try and pull off one race each day. Sunday is a contingent day for the distance race in case the conditions are too poor to sail on Saturday. Redfish Reach was the original regatta and we do what we can to complete that distance race as that is the biggest draw for the sailors the compete in this regatta. We do have other regattas where we have multiple races.

How important do you think local knowledge will be for this regatta?

Local knowledge can play a big role in the outcome of a regatta. The area we sail in is subject to a really strong tidal flow. Strong enough that you can be at the front of the pack at one mark and the back at the next.

Our local sailors are super friendly and helpful. We are always coaching sailors new to our venue to be aware of the tide changes.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) sailors, what would it be?

Watch the local weather and wind forecast. Do not sail in conditions that you are not comfortable with, and always check the tide tables.

What kinds of onshore/evening entertainment can competing sailors look forward to, once the racing sails are furled and flaked?

On Saturday night we have a traditional bonfire on the beach. Sailors will exchange stories, ideas and break down the days sailing as well as general camaraderie.

It is not unusual to have two-to-three boats's crews helping [one] another with repairs so they can sail the following day.

Can you tell us about any efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to lower the regatta's environmental footprint or otherwise green-up the regatta?

This regatta has always been a pretty bare-bones regatta. We only splash the safety boat if there is a need, and we set a minimal number of marks for the Sunday Conundrum, so it is a really limited use any gas-powered boat. Start and finish are on the beach, so there's no need for an RC boat.

Is there anything else about the Redfish Reach and Catamaran Conundrum that you'd like to add, for the record?

Normally this event is held in September. Due to some unforeseen circumstances we had to reschedule to regatta for late October.

This has always been a fun event with a steady participation level and is open to all beach Catamarans. Information about this and all our regattas can be found at our website www.tcdyc.org (currently under reconstruction), and our Facebook page Texas City Dike Yacht Club (TCDYC).

Related Articles

Things Do Change…
It's quite some time ago now: three decades for sure, and into its fourth, quite possibly It's quite some time ago now. Three decades for sure, and into its fourth, quite possibly. It was one of those unwritten laws. An adage, if you will. Posted on 21 May
Introducing Paris 2024 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team
Celebrating and introducing the sailors off to Marseille shortly For fans of U.S. Olympic sailing, the past several quadrennials have been a nosebleed, at best. Despite this history, however, the USA has fielded a young-but-hopefully-competitive team for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Posted on 21 May
The most famous boat in the world
Goes by a lot of nicknames, but you'd think Comanche fits the bill wherever she goes Goes by a lot of nicknames, but you'd have to think Comanche fits the bill wherever she goes. Right oh. Well, for just another eight months or so, she's not going anywhere. The most famous boat in the world has another, albeit short, charter with one aim. Posted on 20 May
Loads of amenity - Goes like a cut cat
As the first Cure 55 steps closer to being splashed it looked more like a Purosangue to me As the first Cure 55 steps ever closer to being splashed, I could not help thinking that it was a lot like the Ferrari Purosangue. More space than your typical two-seat hypercar, yet with the punch to dispatch distances and pretenders with complete ease. Posted on 16 May
James Clarkson on the 2024 I14 Nationals
A Q&A with James Clarkson on the 2024 International 14 U.S. Nationals Sail-World checked in with James Clarkson, president of the International 14 class, via email, to learn more about this high-level skiff regatta. Posted on 14 May
This isn't what I expected
I'm very surprised just how different the new AC75s are A month ago, when I wrote 'AC75 launching season', just three of the AC75s set to contest the 37th America's Cup in Barcelona had been revealed. Now it's five, with just the French Orient Express Racing Team left to show their hand. Posted on 13 May
Celebrating throughlines in sailing leadership
And the sailing world's newest hero Back in mid-March, Sail-World celebrated singlehanded American skipper Cole Brauer as the sailing world's newest hero. Now, I'm now happy to report that we have another sailing hero, albeit one who carries a British passport. Posted on 7 May
The Lewin-LaFrance sisters on their Olympic dreams
A Q&A with Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance on their 49erFX campaign for Paris 2024 Sail-World checked in with sisters Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance, who are representing Canada in the 49erFX event at the 2024 Paris Olympics, via email, to learn more about their campaign. Posted on 7 May
Pre-eminence
Not too hard to work out that I am unabashedly Australian Not too hard to work out that I am unabashedly Australian. Hope everyone is as proud of their country, as I am. Most folk I know seem to be. Posted on 6 May
Donna Mohr and Jon Hamilton on the 70th annual Mug
A Q&A with Donna Mohr and Jon Hamilton on the 70th annual Mug Race Sail-World checked in with Donna Mohr and Jon Hamilton, who serve as race organizers, via email, to learn more about this 38-nautical-mile river race. Posted on 1 May
Rooster Women's Wetsuit RangeSelden 2020 - FOOTERMySail Crew