Hobie April Fools Regatta 2021, Ocean Springs

Ocean Springs Yacht Club a gem of the South

I recently had an opportunity to again visit the Ocean Springs Yacht Club in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. What a nice a place to sail Hobie Cat’s. Ocean Springs YC is the host venue for the 2021 Hobie 16 North American Championships in June 2021.

Ocean Springs in just across the bay from the more widely known town of Biloxi, MS but it has a unique charm. The old part of town has that great feel of years past with lots of small shops and restaurants all in easy walking distance. The overall area is developed but not crowded and like anywhere in the southeast US, they have alligators!

We visited in April for a weekend regatta, a chance to experience the venue and explore the area. This was one of the first regattas in the US for 2021 and it was really nice to get back to Hobie sailing after having most events cancelled in 2020.

While this was a three-day event, the weather wasn’t particularly friendly with heavy thunderstorms cancelling racing on the first day. Racing did take place on day 2 and 3 but not with additional weather complications. Both days started with good breeze that faded as the day went on. Four races were completed in mixed conditions that challenged all the sailors.

One of the highlights of the weekend was a circumnavigation of Deer Island. Biloxi Bay is sheltered by Deer Island and following the conclusion of racing on day 2, Herb and Sharon James suggested we sail through the Biloxi channel past the casinos and go “around the island”. I have to admit we were a bit apprehensive but agreed to join in so two Hobie 16’s left on this adventure not really knowing how far it really was. We got to casino row in Biloxi fairly quickly, but it was a long way down the channel before we exited into the Gulf of Mexico. At this point, we decided to carry on and once we made the turn into the gulf it was screaming reach along the outside of Deer Island. Along the way, there was a large area of fish traps blocking our path (what is up with that?). Hugging the shore with rudders kicking up we passed the fish traps and reached the end of the island. From here it was a straight downwind shot back to the club. We completed the trip in about 75 minutes and were later informed this was about 20 miles. Overall, pretty good speed in 12 knots of wind.

We look forward to returning in June for what we know will be a very competitive event in hotter weather. The Hobie 16 North American Championships will be a qualifying event for the 2022 world championships, and we look forward to the competition.

Rich McVeigh
Photo credits Kim Rivard

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