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An interview with Charles Ritt on the 2022 Lemon Drop Regatta

by David Schmidt 7 Dec 2022 08:00 PST December 10, 2022

There's often an excitement that forms around a regatta during its fledgling years as it makes its nascent tacks and gybes. Generally speaking, the more involvement the regatta enjoys from the members of its organizing club or association, the better the odds are that the event will be able to carry this momentum forward and sustain itself for the long haul. Such is the case with the Englewood Sailing Association's (ESA) Lemon Drop Regatta (established 2021), which is set to take place on Saturday, December 10.

While the Lemon Drop Regatta currently lacks the history and tradition of older, more established events, it also enjoys a freedom to create its own culture and community. The event takes place using ESA's fleet of Picos, Quests, Optimists, and ILCA 6s (old-salt translation: standard rig Lasers), and it will be contested on the waters of Lemon Bay, which is situated due west of Englewood, Florida.

I checked in with Charles Ritt, regatta chairman of the Lemon Drop Regatta, via email, to learn more about this warm-water One Design event.

Can you please tell us a bit about the regatta, its history and culture, as well as the origins of its colorful name?

When I joined the Englewood Sailing Association (ESA) three years ago, there was no racing. We thought that racing might increase the longevity of interest for some of our students, and [that] a regatta would serve as a focal point for the learning and practice.

This is the second year of the regatta. When we were starting out, I wanted to raise interest in the regatta within ESA. To that end, we had a contest for a name followed by one for a logo. We were very happy with the results because we sail on Lemon Bay in Englewood, Florida.

How many boats are you expecting on the starting line?

Last year we had 25. This year I hope for 55.

How would you describe competition levels at the Lemon Drop Regatta?

This regatta is one step above local fleet racing.

How did you and the other event organizers settle on the four competing classes? Also, do these classes change from year to year?

The classes are a combination of what we own, Picos, Quests and ILCA 6, and what is commonly raced by youth, Optimist and ILCA 6. Over the last year ESA has sold our Sunfish and purchased used ILCA 6. We have also made that change to the regatta.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter off of Lemon Bay in mid December? Also, what are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

75 to 80 degrees, sunny, southwest winds [at] 8-12 [knots]. That was last year. The only downside is a cold front, which would mean temps in the 60s but still with wind and sun.

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

Stay away from the sandbar.

Can you tell us about any recent steps that the regatta has taken to reduce its environmental footprint or otherwise "green-up"?

No water bottles, [and we will only serve] ice-cream cones, not cups. No printed NOR or SIs.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

ESA is very proud to be celebrating its 20th Anniversary as a 100-percent volunteer group of men and women dedicated to teaching youth to sail and instilling the qualities of confidence, character and community.

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