With boating season warming up on the Texas Gulf Coast, thoughts are turning to cruising destinations with white sandy beaches or to docking up at waterfront seafood restaurants with friends and family. While everyone has their favorite port of call, often overlooked as cruising destinations are the sailing regattas held throughout the waterways of Texas. Whether you own a sailboat or have always been a powerboater, these events offer an unmatched boating experience as an on-the-water spectator to the action or as a participant convoying to a raft-up. Afterward, the marinas and yacht clubs fill up for the legendary post-event parties with live music, food and sailors from throughout the Gulf Coast. Here is a sampling of regattas and cruising events along the Texas and southwestern Louisiana coasts that should be on your radar for 2016, and all have facilities to accommodate transient cruisers looking to attend the party.
From cruising events at your local yacht club to major regattas where anchoring in the spectators’ area provides great views of the action, there are ample opportunities to get out on the water with friends and family and make new Texas boating memories this year.
J/70 North American Championship
Seabrook, Texas; May 19-22: An entire flotilla of these little speedsters will descend on the Lakewood Yacht Club for four days of events and on-the-water excitement. Drop an anchor to watch some of the top sailors in North America showcase their prowess and then enjoy the endless hospitality of one of the finest clubs on the Texas coast. j70nac.com
Race to the Border
Galveston to South Padre Island, Texas; May 28th to June 2nd: The 8th running of this biennial regatta hosted by the Galveston Bay Cruising Association and the Laguna Madre Yacht Club offers the perfect opportunity for cruisers and powerboaters to participate in a distance event along the Texas coast. Running for 240 miles, the event has specific classes tailored for cruisers and even has a “Jalapeño” class, which is geared for floating parties. Regatta participants overrun the town of Port Isabel and the nearby beaches. racetotheborder.com
GT300 and the Ruff Rider
Laguna Madre, Texas; June 15-18 and Labor Day weekend: Texas is known for big things and so it is with sailing. These two major distance races for beach cats are legendary the world over. Sailing the Laguna Madre, the two-person teams on Hobie-style catamarans trek nearly the entire coast of Texas with beach parties along the way. greattexas300.com; ruffrider.net
Harvest Moon Regatta
Galveston to Port Aransas, Texas; October 13-15: One of the largest cruising and sailing events on the entire Gulf Coast, nearly 200 yachts participate in this regatta to Port Aransas hosted by the Lakewood Yacht Club. Many large powerboats make the cruise alongside the regatta, but it is recommended to reserve slip space early. harvestmoonregatta.com
By Harlen Leslie, Southern Boating Magazine January 2016