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Henri-Lloyd 2022 December - SW LEADERBOARD

An interview with Clinton Edwards on the 2023 Gulf Coast Sportboat Championship

by David Schmidt 8 Aug 08:00 PDT August 12-13, 2023
Final day - Viper 640 World and North American Championships © Sharon Green / Ultimate Sailing

Few things are finer than feeling a caffeinated sportboat hop up onto a plane. If this sounds like your shot of espresso and you live in the South, put the annual Gulf Cost Sportboat Championship (GCSBC) on your radar. The event is being organized by the Gulf Yachting Association (GYA) and is being hosted by the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, from August 12-13. Registration is open to Viper 640 and VX One teams.

The regatta is known for generating racecourse grins, and attending sailors can look forward to a great sportboat atmosphere, competitive racing, and a fun après-racing scene.

I checked in with Clinton Edwards, who is serving as the regatta's principal race officer, to learn more about this exciting sportboat regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Gulf Coast Sportboat Championship and its history and culture? When did the event begin, and what kinds of sailors does it tend to attract?

[The] GCSBC started around 2015, and the host club rotates every few years. Past hosts are Fairhope YC (Fairhope, AL), Gulfport YC (Gulfport, MS), Pass Christian YC (Pass Christian YC) and currently Bay-Waveland YC (Bay St. Louis, MS).

The event invites Viper 640 class and VX One class [to] sail one-on-one as one fleet. For few years it was used as the GYA qualifier the US Sailing Adult Championship.

Sailors come from across the South to participate. Last year's event had Viper World Champions, multiple US Sailing Champions, and many continental and national class champions.

What kind of entry numbers are you seeing ahead of this year's event? How does this number stack up against previous recent editions, and are there any notable geographical concentrations to this entry list?

The Vipers usually outnumber the VXs. [The] VXs are privately owned while most of the Vipers are club owned.

Entries are between 10 and 15, but the competition is great with all levels of sailors, [with everyone from] rock stars to beginners.

Most of the boats that attend are within a four-to-five hour drive.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter off on the waters of Bay St. Louis in mid-August? What are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

Ten races are scheduled so the races are a little shorter than usual and the turn-around time between races is not very long.

The best winds will be 12-16 knots with a bearing of 180-200, sea breeze.

Worst case will be a westerly breeze coming from the near shore, and the [oscillations] can be very wide.

Don't give up because positions on the course can and will change rapidly.

Do you see local knowledge playing a big or small role in the regatta's outcome? Can you please explain?

With a sea breeze, local knowledge is less important. With the short courses, I think having a good starts is [the] most important [factor].

If the boats can plane, then the jibes are crucial and fun to watch.

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

Visit the air-conditioned bar for the debrief after racing with your favorite beverage. Last year's debrief was given by Jackson Benvenutti.

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