More than 100 years have passed since the Carolina Yacht Club opened its doors in the 1880s, yet still, the club’s staple event seems to show no signs of slowing down.
Saturday marks 2016’s installment of the club’s annual regatta, an event that could see adults in the 420 class for the first time ever, if enough sailors are interested.
“Usually the 420s are sailed by youth and young adults,” said the club’s sailing director, Naomi Van den Bergh.
“We’ve had some requests from adults to sail the 420s, as well.”
The regatta, which begins Saturday and wraps up Sunday, already had 89 boats registered as of Thursday morning between the E-Scow, Lightning, Y-Flyer, Sea Island One Design, Sunfish, Laser, Laser Radial, J24 and youth classes.
Harvey McCormick, the regatta’s chair, said the club anticpates signing up 140 to 150 boats between now and the end of registration at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Those interested can sign up either online or in person, but there is a $5 upcharge for signing up the day of.
“Last year, we had 111 (boats), and the highest we’ve had in the 2000s has been 155. That was in 2009,” McCormick said.
“Years ago it used to be over 200, approaching 300, but it’s fallen off a little bit.”
McCormick thinks the drop-off might have something to do with youth sailors not continuing in the sport after high school.
He explained that lots of sailors will attend camps early into their childhood and compete for their high school teams, but perhaps they might put the sport on the back burner once high school graduation rolls around.
Keeping the youth engaged in sailing is one of the Carolina Yacht Club’s top priorities, which is why each year the club presents a pair of awards to young sailors at the conclusion of the regatta.
The Henry Clay Robertson IV Trophy goes to the top sailor 16 years old or younger, while the Philip O’Neill Hanvey Memorial Trophy is presented to the top sailor 21 or younger.
Both awards will be presented at the awards ceremony Sunday, following the final legs of racing. On Saturday night, club members and those registered for the regatta can enjoy a commodore’s cocktail party, and on both days there will be a continental breakfast before sailing begins.
“I think the main reason why the open regatta is so popular is because of the location of our club,” Van den Bergh said.
“It opens up right into the harbor and so we have a really nice racing area, and the boat ramps are just very conveniently located so we don’t have to tow anybody in.”
The Carolina Yacht Club Regatta marks the fourth of five local yacht club regattas, with the James Island, Hobcaw and Charleston clubs already having completed their events earlier in the summer. Last in line is the Rockville Yacht Club Regatta, which marks the end of the local sailing season Aug. 6 and 7.
“I certainly hope that the weather works out, because that’s probably the main thing,” Van den Bergh said.
“But it looks like the weather should be nice, so I just hope that things run smoothly and that everyone has a good time.”