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An interview with Stacey Uptain-Smith on the Clermont CatCall 2023

by David Schmidt 21 Feb 2023 08:00 PST February 24-26, 2023
Racecourse action at the Clermont Catcall © Clermont Catcall

If you're a multi-hull sailor in need of a healthy shot of Vitamin D, the Clermont CatCall 2023 could be your late-winter antidote. The event is being organized by the Clermont Sailing Center (CSC), in Clermont Florida, and Hobie Division 8, and will unfurl on the waters of Lake Minneola from February 24-26.

Registration is open to all Hobie cats, Formula Waves, A-Cat classics and foilers, Weta trimarans, and high-performance cats (e.g., F18s, F16s, Nacra 15s, et al).

I checked in with Stacey Uptain-Smith, who serves as president of the CSC's board of directors, about the Clermont CatCall 2023, via email, to learn more about this exciting multihull regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Clermont CatCall's history, culture, and the origins of its colorful name?

When our Clermont Sailing Center was hosting its first regatta back in 2016, we were looking for a fun, playful, and memorable name for the regatta.

We put the word out to catamaran and sailing clubs across the state and region - "Calling All Catamarans" and thus, the CatCall was born.

What kinds of sailors one can expect to meet at this camping-friendly multi-hull regatta?

The CatCall is a fabulous regatta to come out, let loose and just have fun, or join in with our highly competitive sailors, which include former National Champions.

You'll find sailors from California and Washington State, to Puerto Rico, and of course, many from the Sunshine State. The crowd is a great mix which is reflected in the camaraderie of all the sailors.

How many boats, total, are you expecting? I realize that these are still early days, but are some classes attracting more boats than others?

It's too early to tell. This year's regatta includes Hobie 16s, Hobie Waves, Formula Waves, A-Cats, F18s/Nacras, and Wetas.

Generally speaking, what kinds of conditions can sailors expect on the waters of Lake Minneola in late February?

February sailing on Lake Minneola in Clermont, Florida is an ideal time to sail! Typically, sunny and warm (though we've had a few cold spells this year) sailors can most always count on plenty of breeze.

Our lake will usually serve up lots of shifts, which can get sporty at times, but always makes for fun and challenging conditions.

Are you starting to see more foiling boats registering, year-on-year? If so, are we talking A-Cats, or are the foilers also competing?

It's always a fun, competitive event. We've had both foiling and non-foiling A-Cats participate in the CatCall, along with Nacras and F-18s.

The foilers are a special treat for our spectators because from shore, they look like they're flying. The CatCall is always a fun, competitive event.

What kind of onshore entertainment can sailors look forward to once the finishing guns have gone silent each day?

Lake Minneola is within walking distance to a vibrant downtown area and many of our participants take advantage of all our city has to offer. We have lakeshore dining, a variety of downtown restaurants and breweries, a trailhead that winds along the lakeshore, as well as an Artwalk and shopping.

In fact, registration and check-in is hosted by one of our local downtown breweries. Although a scheduling conflict prevented it this year, our event typically coincides with the Clermont's "First Fridays" event with gourmet food trucks galore.

This year a local pitmaster will be serving an authentic Southern BBQ dinner to our sailors and when racing concludes, city officials will help present awards.

Can you please tell us about any efforts that the club has made to green-up the regatta and generally lower its environmental wake?

We try our best to be cognizant of our footprint. With that in mind, we've provided dry bags to sailors the past two years. These reusable dry bags help contain trash from the lunches we send out with them and keep the debris from ending up in the lake and lakeshore.

We also have water jugs on hand for refillable water bottles on shore.

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

Whether you currently sail or not, our regatta is spectator friendly with plenty of viewing areas on the south side of the lake and the opportunity to experience the excitement and beauty of sailing.

The Clermont Sailing Center began from a desire to share our love for sailing with the local community, especially our youth and families. It's fun to see the spark ignite in the eyes of a new sailor, no matter their age or background.

A great example is one of our youth sailors named Izzy. As a shy eight-year-old, she was granted a scholarship to learn to sail with us in our Opti program. She developed a passion for sailing, and in the six years since, she has blossomed into a great junior sailor who will be sailing as crew on a Hobie 16 in this year's CatCall. In fact, she even has plans to sail collegiately at the University of South Florida while pursuing a degree in Marine Biology!

We are still growing and appreciate this opportunity to share our story with your readership. We always welcome anyone willing to lend their expertise, sponsorship, or in-kind donations to help us further our mission.

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