Three years ago, Becky Royal was living in Durham, N.C., when she decided it was time to pack her belongings and hop on Interstate 95.
Her destination was 300 miles to the south — Charleston — where one of her biggest hobbies is currently exploding onto the national scene.
“I moved in part to sail,” Royal said.
“I was landlocked and I was missing the water.”
Now, Royal is the sailing chair of the Charleston Yacht Club, a duty she assumed five months ago. Since February, she’s been tasked with organizing the club’s largest event of the year, the Charleston Yacht Club Regatta, which officially begins Friday.
“It’s been a deep learning curve, but it’s been great to learn how regattas all work and figure out the back side of it,” Royal said.
“I have a committee of about eight different people who help me out and they just have a wealth of knowledge. A lot of them are natives of Charleston and have grown up sailing.”
One of those committee members, Fred Martschink, has been sailing for 50 years, ever since his father taught him to do so when he was five.
Martschink, a self-proclaimed “old timer,” said Royal’s job as a first-grade teacher at Mount Pleasant Academy has made the planning process a smooth one.
“She’s a teacher, so she’s organized,” he said. “It’s been a learning experience, but she’s very willing and able and not afraid to ask questions.”
The event kicks off Friday night with a cocktail party, and the sailing portion runs Saturday and Sunday.
Those interested in registering can do so at the club through Saturday morning.
Sarah Ashton, another committee member, pointed out that some junior sailors don’t necessarily have to own their own boats in order to compete.
“We also make money available to charter a boat if they need to charter it,” she said.
“Mainly it’s the 420s. You don’t have to have your own 420. If they contact Charleston Community Sailing, we’re using (them).”
In addition to the racing portion of the regatta, there will be dancing, dinner and possibly karaoke after the sailors come off the water.
Royal said the committee just finalized the menu, which includes taco, barbecue and shrimp and grits stations.
The awards ceremony will begin Sunday after the final races, when the club’s two most esteemed awards will be announced.
Every year, the club presents the Lockwood Award and the Women’s Award to two club members who have had the most profound impact on the sport during the past year.
It used to be that George McDougal Lockwood would select the winner of the award named after him, but since Lockwood’s death, a committee now determines the distinction.
Martschink, a previous Lockwood winner, said the presentation of those awards would likely be the most highly anticipated event of the weekend.
“Captain George, as we always called him, was one of the founders of the club back in the 30s. He was an avid ocean racer and just a mainstay down at the club,” Martschink said.
“The women’s award, I don’t know exactly when, it’s been established now probably 20 years.
“I’d say they’re probably the highlight of the regatta. The racing always is and you have winners and things like that, but for club members, both of them are pretty prestigious awards.”