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Zhik 2024 February Outlet - LEADERBOARD

An interview with Chris May on the Galveston Bay Cruising Association's Chili Chase Regatta

by David Schmidt 30 Nov 2023 08:00 PST December 2, 2023

Like it or not, winter cometh. That we can't control. What we can control, however, is how we bid adieu to a great season of sailing. Different traditions abound, of course, and unfurl in different latitude-influenced months, but, for the Galveston Bay Cruising Association, this is done in December, with friends, with chili.

The annual Chili Chase Regatta (December 2) is a fun-minded race that's intended to a fun day afloat for experienced racers and as a welcoming environment for newer racers, who are encouraged to become involved in the coming season's racing.

The regatta is open to all boats, and it expects to welcome a wide variety of teams, from those racing with spinnakers, to those cruising with kites, to non-spinnaker classes, and multihulls.

And, given its moniker, the regatta involves a competition within a competition.

I checked in with Chris May, commodore of the Galveston Bay Cruising Association, to learn more about the organization's annual Chili Chase Regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the GBCA's Chili Chase Regatta, its history, its culture, and how the event got its colorful name?

This event was thought-up in the early 2000s as a closing race in our season. Given that this is about the time it finally starts to get cold locally, the idea [that was] dreamed-up was a pursuit race and chili cookoff combined.

Historically, there have been categories for chili [that's] actually cooked on the boat during the race, and land-based entries. It is fully meant to be a lighthearted and fun event to close our season.

How would you describe competition levels at the Chili Chase Regatta?

Generally, this is one of our "fun" series events, with fun for all the primary focus. Also given the pursuit style and short distance (12 nautical miles), we try to lure-out potential new racers as well.

What kind of entry numbers are you seeing ahead of this year's event? How does this number stack up against previous recent editions?

It can vary as people tend to watch the weather this time of year. Historically this is a fairly well-attended event with average entries in the 30-40 boat range.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter on Galveston Bay in early December? What are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

It is coastal Texas winter, so it could be 75 degrees and 4-6 knots of breeze, or 45 degrees and 25 knots if a cold front decides to come through.

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

Not especially, as current is generally not a factor here.

But, as the saying for some goes goes, "never go right on Galveston Bay".

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

Just come out. It is a fun event and one more chance to get out and be competitive and have some fun and socializing with your sailing community.

With everyone's busy schedule these days, we tend to forget how to do the basics and have some fun.

What kind of post-racing entertainment do you and the other organizers have planned?

The aforementioned chili cookoff is usually a hit, and provides the food for the party. As always, GBCA will have an ample supply of beer and rum to soothe the sore muscles from the race if it gets sporty.

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?

We are an electronic only for our race documents, and [we] always encourage participants to do their part to reduce waste as well. This has generally become the common theme on the Bay.

Is there anything else about the 2023 edition of the GBCA's Chili Chase Regatta that you'd like to add, for the record?

Nope, it's a simple and fun-focused event. This about covers it!

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