Harvest Moon, Hurricanes, and that particularly bad boy, Harvey

September 1st, 2018

By Andrea Todaro

The Harvest Moon Regatta® is probably the best known sailboat race on the Texas Gulf Coast, although even many participants do not know its history, or the role that hurricanes have played in its evolution.

The first HMR was the brainchild of three sailors from Lakewood Yacht Club. As John Broderick told the story, one Friday night at Lakewood the bar conversation turned to the need for more opportunities to sail and in particular, opportunities to get offshore. Sail maker John Cameron offered “the best sails I’ve had were late in the fall in the Gulf after the summer doldrums are over and the winter Northers haven’t started.” Competitive racer Ed Bailey agreed, saying he missed the old Texas Offshore Race Circuit (“TORC”) sailing events. Broderick, a dedicated cruiser and, at the time, Lakewood’s commodore, agreed and said, “why don’t we organize something?”

The bar talk led to discussions with members of other area sailing clubs, some of which were held at Frank’s Shrimp Hut, which is now Hooter’s in Seabrook. The first regatta, in 1987, was planned as a four race event beginning with a skippers’ meeting on Friday, Sept. 25, and a kickoff party on Saturday, Sept. 26. Racing started on Thursday, Oct. 1 and ran through the 10th with race segments or “legs” from the Galveston jetties to Port Isabel, back up the coast to Port Aransas, back to the Galveston Jetties, and then up to Marker Two at the Clear Creek channel leading into Lakewood’s homeport, Seabrook.

The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox is known as the “harvest moon” and is characterized by a bright orange color; it is followed by a “hunter’s moon. The “harvest moon” can occur as early as September 8th or as late as Oct. 7 which was the date of the “harvest moon” in 1987. Thus, in October 1987, with the races occurring between October 1st and the 10th, the Harvest Moon Regatta® was born. Seventeen yachts sailed that first year, with several bikini beach parties along the way.

In 1988, the “harvest moon” fell on Sept. 25, so the race start was scheduled for Thursday, Sept.22, but on Sept. 8 Hurricane Gilbert destroyed the Queen’s Point Marina at Port Isabel. The race start was delayed three weeks to Oct. 14 and the destination was changed to Port Aransas. Thus began the tradition of sailing to Port Aransas under a magnificent full moon, sometimes a “harvest moon” if it fell during the first seven days of October, otherwise a “hunter’s moon” if it fell on or after the 8th of October.

Mother Nature and Hurricane Gilbert are credited with the growth of the Harvest Moon Regatta® which grew steadily from the 17 yachts of 1987 to over 260 yachts in later years. The growth was due in large part to the perfect destination, Port Aransas. As John Broderick described it: “This ideal Texas port allows yacht owners and sailors to use minimal days from work to join in on what can be a most memorable overnight sail down the Texas coast during traditionally the best offshore sailing time of the year. And we can all do this in relative safety shared by some 200 other yachts.”

The race, open to sailors with no club affiliation as well as members of other area sailing clubs, became a bucket list item for many Texas sailors, many of whom had little or no offshore experience. The growth of Harvest Moon Regatta® also resulted in the formation of a charitable organization, Bay Access Sailing Foundation. Bay Access now serves as the regatta’s organizing authority, with race management provided by volunteers from Lakewood Yacht Club.

In 2015, Hurricane Patricia was forecast to envelop Port Aransas in a “catastrophic rain event” with the worst conditions forecast for Sunday morning when sailors would be required to leave the relative safety of Port Aransas City Marina for the trip back to Houston and various other home ports. Numerous warnings from weather officials eventually prompted race organizers to cancel the race for the first time in its history. Despite the race cancellation, the party in Port Aransas went on, and some of the more seasoned sailors sailed the course and were able to obtain slips in the City Marina harbor to ride out the gale force winds that arrived as forecast on Sunday morning.

In 2017, when the actual “harvest moon” again fell in October, on the 5th, Hurricane Harvey put a new twist on the story. Hitting the Texas coast near Port Aransas on Aug. 25, the storm devastated “the ideal Texas port” and dumped torrential rain on the entire Houston area. This time, instead of canceling the race or rescheduling it, race organizers decided to reformat the race as a triangle race, similar to Lakewood’s TORC event, the Heald Bank Regatta, which is traditionally held in April. Beginning and ending at the Galveston Jetties, the Regatta was followed by an awards party at Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, where regatta volunteers put a special focus on raising money for the devastated Port Aransas. Port Aransas city officials were surprised to receive a check for about $20,000 from the regatta, and they are looking forward to the return of the regatta this year, although it will be many years before Port Aransas recovers to pre-Harvey prosperity.

Lakewood gearing up for two August regattas

August 1st, 2018

Lakewood is gearing up for two big races in August — the Bay Cup II and Heald Bank Regattas, which provide the perfect opportunity to compete against your peers on the bay and offshore as well as a chance to tune up for this year’s Harvest Moon Regatta in October.

Lakewood will host Bay Cup II Aug. 4 along with the post-race party that evening. Liquid trophies will be awarded by Southwest Spirits, and artist Robert Greaney will perform for the crowd.

The Heald Bank Regatta will be raced Aug. 17-18, followed by a celebration at the club. Andy and the Dreamsicles will provide the live entertainment.
The fun doesn’t stop in August. Follow up these races by participating in the Harvest Moon Regatta Oct. 25-28. HMR is returning to its usual format and will race from Galveston to Port Aransas.

Primary sponsors for Bay Cup II and Heald Bank include the City of Seabrook, Blackburn Marine, Davis Marine Electronics, True North Marine, Mariner Magazine, Upstream Brokers, Sea Lake Yachts, Keven Severance Insurance, OJ’s Marine, Little Yacht Sales, RejeX.com and Texas Coast Yachts.

Bay Cup II Regatta
Racers can register at www.lakewoodyachtclub.com under the Regattas tab. The registration fee for Bay Cup II is $75 and includes entry into the Skippers’ Meeting on Aug. 3, as well as a meal and two drink tickets to be enjoyed at the post-event awards party. A $5 discount is available to U.S. Sailing members. The entry fee is payable by credit card or yacht club reciprocal charge. Aug. 1st is the registration deadline.

Bay Cup II is the second in a two-race series. One or more distance races will be sailed in either Trinity Bay or Galveston Bay. Potential classes include PHRF Spinnaker, PHRF non-Spin, Cruising Spinnaker, Cruising Non-Spin Classic Canvas (using only Dacron sails), Multihull and One Design class(es).

Non-racers and other out-of-town guests can enjoy an array of nearby activities in Seabrook and the surrounding area, which offer a variety of entertainment. Walk the trails in Seabrook, visit Space Center Houston, check out the wildlife at Armand Bayou Nature Center or experience the dining and amusement options at the Kemah Boardwalk.

Overall trophies for the Bay Cup series will be given out at the post-race party on the evening of Aug. 4 in the LYC Ballroom. Robert Greaney will provide live entertainment while guests socialize and savor great food and tasty drinks.

This year’s sponsors include City of Seabrook, RejeX.com, OJ’s Marine, Little Yacht Sales, True North Marine, Texas Coast Yachts, Blackburn Marine, Upstream Brokers, Davis Marine Electronics, Kevin Severance Insurance, Sea Lake Yachts, Mariner Magazine, Bay Area Houston Magazine and Southwest Spirits.

Regatta proceeds benefit Bay Access, a not for profit charitable organization fostering amateur racing and sailing on Galveston Bay.

For further information, call LYC at 281-474-2511 or David Comeaux, Bay Cup I Regatta chairman at davidcomeaux@live.com or 832-993-5933. For visitor information, visit seabrooktx.gov

Heald Bank Regatta
The Heald Bank entry fee is $80 and includes access to the Skippers’ Meeting on Aug. 16 and a ticket for dinner and two tickets for Texas Navy Rum at the post-event awards party hosted at LYC Aug. 18. A $5 discount is available to U.S. Sailing members. Don’t miss the Aug. 11 registration deadline.

Heald Bank is an offshore regatta open to all boats of the PHRF Spin, PHRF Non-Spin, Cruising boats with a PHRF Rating (non-spin or with Spinnaker), One-Design, and Multihulls.

The Buccaneer Bash dinner and awards party will follow the race at LYC, which will include a “Pirates’ Pig Roast,” live entertainment by Andy & the Dreamsicles and plenty of Texas Navy Rum.

Sponsors of the 2018 Heald Bank Regatta are the City of Seabrook, Texas Navy Light Rum, RejeX.com, OJ’s Marine, Little Yacht Sales, True North Marine, Texas Coast Yachts, Blackburn Marine, Upstream Brokers, Davis Marine Electronics, Kevin Severance Insurance, Marine Outfitters, Sea Lake Yachts, Mariner Magazine and Bay Area Houston Magazine.

For further information, call LYC at 281-474-2511 or Heald Bank Race Chairman Bob Hunkins 281-216-4082 or rdhunkins@verizon.net.

Additional visitor information and accommodations near the club can be found at www.seabrooktx.gov

Four from LYC finish first in Bay Cup I Regatta

April 1st, 2017

Four Lakewood Yacht Club members were first place finishers in the 16th Annual Bay Cup I Regatta, which LYC hosted in cooperation with Bay Access.

This year’s regatta had 42 registered boats. Racers dealt with choppy, windy and rainy conditions on Trinity Bay throughout the duration of the March 4 race, but nine Lakewood members managed top-four finishes among the five race classes.

The 2017 Bay Cup I Regatta first-place winners include Houston Yacht Club member Ken Humphries in the PHRF Spin – (Non-Sprit) and LYC members Carl Drechsel in the Cruising Non-Spin Classic Canvas, Gerhard Wittich in the Cruising Poleless Spin, Ash Walker in the PHRF Non-Spin and Uzi Ozeri in the PHRF Spin – Sprit.

Complete race results can be found on the website, www.lakewoodyachtclub.com

A celebratory dinner, party and awards ceremony followed the race in the LYC ballroom. Sailors, spectators and guests enjoyed camaraderie over dinner and drinks and tuned in to live entertainment by Kelly McGuire, an award-winning singer and songwriter.

Interested racers should begin preparing for Bay Cup II, the second of this two race series. Overall trophies will be presented at the conclusion of that regatta Aug. 5.

“Many thanks to the land volunteers, on-the-water volunteers, scorers, protest committee and Lakewood staff for your efforts in planning and executing all of the activities for the Bay Cup I Regatta,” said Bay Cup I Race Chairman Larry Rogers. “We had another great day on the water, and the sailors enjoyed the festivities on land as well.”

The LYC Race Committee said it also would like to acknowledge the generous sponsors that helped make this a great long-distance sailing event including the City of Seabrook, George Ocean Rum, Bay Access, Little Yacht Sales, OJ’s Marin, True North Marine, Blackburn Marine, Alliant Marine & Energy Insurance and Davis Marine.

Sailboat classes eligible to compete in this series include PHRF Spinnaker, PHRF Non-Spin, PHRF under 30 feet, Cruising Poleless Spin, Cruising Non-Spin-Classic Canvas (i.e. Dacron sails), Shorthanded Offshore Sailors, Multihull and One Design Classes.

For further information about Bay Cup II, contact LYC at 281-474-2511 or Larry Rogers, Bay Cup I Regatta chairman, at 832-228-7052 or lrogers@cfpglobal.net

LYC celebrates success of Bay Cup I Regatta

April 1st, 2016

4-1XBayCupX1X-XJXRogers-8810The 2016 Bay Cup I Regatta held March 5 finished as a huge success. Nearly 45 boats launched from Trinity Bay, with seven classes running multiple races through Saturday. Lakewood Yacht Club hosted the event, which featured long-distance, multi-leg racing.

Sponsors who helped make the Bay Cup I an amazing event included Don Q Puerto Rico’s Premier Rum, the City of Seabrook, Blackburn Marine, West Marine, Davis Marine Electronics, Edna Rice, Executive Recruiters Inc., Little Yacht Sales, Texas Coast Yachts, and True North Marine.

After the race, club members and sailors got to enjoy dinner and an awards ceremony. TCMA award-winning recording artist Kelly McGuire provided the evening’s live entertainment.

Race results are as follows:

Cruising Non-Spin Classic Canvas C:
1st Place: Bobby Fulmer

Cruising Non-Spin Classic Canvas B:
2nd Place: John Morse
1st Place: Maarten van Hasselt

Cruising Non-Spin Classic Canvas A:
3rd Place:  Robert Crosby
2nd Place:  Marty Pedowicz
1st Place:  David Penrose, Karen Atkinson

PHRF Non-Spin
4th Place: Ashley Walker
3rd Place: Ben Miller
2nd Place: James Apple
1st Place: Dennis Kokkinis

J/105
2nd Place: John Barnett
1st Place: Uzi Ozeri

PHRF Spin – (Non-Sprit)
3rd Place: Kevin Orff
2nd Place: Walter Horton
1st Place: Cran Fraser

PHRF Spin – Sprit
3rd Place: J.D. Hill
2nd Place: Gregory Way
1st Place: Al Goethe

Proceeds from the Regatta benefit Bay Access, a not for profit charitable organization fostering amateur racing and sailing on Galveston Bay.