For the past decade, an event emphasizing one of the area’s premier features, showcases the community’s resources as one of the 10 best places to sail in the world. The 10th annual Charlotte Harbor Regatta starts Friday at 11 a.m. The three day event continues Saturday and Sunday, with the start times being 10 a.m. both days.
The Charlotte Harbor Regatta has emerged from its nascent stages evolving into an event that’s received global recognition.
“We started in 2010, it’s a non-profit organization, with our board of directors being made of members of area yacht clubs, sailing clubs and the county’s tourism bureau,” said Brian Gleason, Charlotte Harbor Regatta director.
However, the event itself has extremely humble beginnings, but has since captured the imagination of a community, who has long recognized the value of the area’s natural resources.
“I started it when I worked at the paper (the Charlotte Sun) as a community building project,” said Gleason. “Our publisher at the time, David Dunn-Rankin asked us to do some stuff in the community, and I proposed having a one design regatta, and he said, ‘Run with it.’ And we’re now 10 years into it.”
The regatta has been embraced by the sailing community, said Gleason. The volume of boats participating, numbers between 50 to 105 boats at various times, dependent on the class participating.
‘We’re in our 10th year and we’re looking forward to another great weekend of racing,” said Gleason.
Charlotte Harbor is the main attraction, having been recognized as one of the 10 best places to sail in the world, earning that distinction from a number of prestigious sailing publications, said Gleason. The other major variable in the equation that sets the regatta apart are that the participating sailors are treated like guests.
“We’re not a big event that has hundreds of entries, it’s a core group of people that come back year after year,” said Gleason.
Among the classes of boats that have embraced the event, include the Hobie 16s, wetas and Harbor 20s.
“The manufacturer of the Harbor 20 is a major sponsor, and he races in the event,” said Gleason. “These sailors who are participating...racing is their passion. They plan their vacation calendar around things like the Charlotte Harbor Regatta.”
The best place to watch the regatta is from the water, said Gleason.
“With having that many boats out on the water, it’s a nice spectacle, it has sort of a nice chamber of commerce look to it,” said Gleason. “You really don’t get a sense of what’s happening in the races from shore because it looks like the boats are just sailing around, but when you’re up close, and watching them tack over each other, around the mark or adjusting the sails...that’s when you see they’re actually racing. Every movement counts for something.”
The proceeds from the event go to fund youth and adult sailing programs, for equipment for the sailing programs, floating docks to make the sport handicap accessible that have been deployed at four different countywide locations.
Spectators can watch the boats launch and return from the Port Charlotte Beach parking lot. Parking is is free
“Over the course of the 10 years, we’ve raised over $80,000 for scholarships for sailing programs,” said Gleason.
For more information, you can access their website at charlotteharborregatta.com.