Strong winds and choppy waves made for a rough start to the Dauphin Island Regatta Warm-up race on Saturday.
“I think the weather as it was forecasted yesterday was a deterrent for a lot of the boaters,” Tom Batty said.
Only 8 sailboats embarked on the 10-mile warm-up course, a far cry from the 80 to 100 plus boats that will sprinkle the bay next weekend, but it’s enough to help race officials work out all the kinks before Saturday.
“It helps us see certain shortcomings and how we can improve our performance, and it helps us with some of the equipment we’re using this year such as the raceQ’S, which is a way to track the boats. So, we learned a lot today,” Batty said.
The terrifying video from last year’s regatta as severe storms took the lives of 6 boaters is still burned in our minds, but Batty says they’re moving forward without forgetting what happened one year ago.
“We’re really looking to remember the lives lost last year, but keep the event moving forward. This is its 58th running, and we’ve got a lot of passionate people, but we also respect and hope the families are doing ok,” Batty said.
They’ve made several safety changes to this year’s race such as using RaceQ, a software to track boaters during the race. They also are requiring boaters to check in before the race and wear a life jacket for the start of it. All of that in hopes that the 58th annual regatta will be met with jubilation and not tragedy.
Mobile Yacht Club is hosting the Regatta. The winner of Saturday’s warm-up race was Eric Schmidt, who was on an Ultimate20 sailboat.