The competition was fierce and so was Mother Nature during third annual Low Country Hook Ocean Race, a five-hour sailing competition Saturday off the Georgia coast.
One of the region’s premier sailing events, this year’s race drew 23 competitors who encountered some forceful winds during the challenging race from Hilton Head Island, S.C., to The Landings Harbor Marina on Skidaway Island.
Trophies were awarded in three categories: spinnaker and non-spinnaker A and B (depending on boat size and speed potential).
Spinnaker: 1. Mike Foster, “Ronin,” 2. Gebel Sesse, “High Visibility,” 3. Mark Lamas, “Rukus.”
Non-spinnaker A: 1. Randy Brooks, “Bliss,” 2. Todd Williams, “Grand Cru,” 3. Mike Roe, “Roeboat.”
Non-spinnaker B: 1. Steve Horton, “Zingara,” 2. Leo Peolquin, “Merlin,” 3. Larry Sprague, “HMS Beagle.”
“There was great competition out there,” said Savannah’s Foster, who noted he had not entered the Hook race in prior years but promised, “I will be back!”
The race was organized by Skidaway Island Boating Club in partnership with the Yacht Club of Hilton Head. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Southeast Coastal Properties returned as the title sponsor of the 30-mile race.
The event took competitors through open ocean waters off the South Carolina and Georgia coasts. From Harbour Town in Hilton Head, the sailboats went southward around Tybee Island, and then turned up Wassaw Sound and the Wilmington River to The Landings harbor, following a J or hook-shaped course.
SIBC race committee co-chair Dave Angell thanked the captains, crew, U.S. Sailing race officials, The Landings harbor staff, sponsors and volunteers who helped make the event possible.
Open to sailboats longer than 22 feet, the race was handicapped, with scores adjusted proportionally so that both larger and smaller sailboats could compete based on the skill of the crew.
While many area boat clubs host annual regattas in inland waterways lasting only an hour or more, the Hook offers the unique opportunity to compete in open ocean waters for several hours, which historically was a large part of sailboat racing.
“We’re so pleased with the response to our efforts to revitalize a part of this region’s sailing traditions, and at the same time, bring attention to the great coastal resources and the waterfront activities that we enjoy here year-round,” said SIBC Commodore Roger Herrick.
The sailors encountered persistent winds that took them further east into the Atlantic, and outgoing tides later in the day, but most embraced the challenge.
“It was the champagne of ocean races. It was perfect,” said Todd Williams who, along with his crew, enjoyed the wildlife as well as the sailing conditions, spotting sea turtles and dolphins.
“It was a great day. Beautiful weather, and very very good competition. Lots of fast boats,” added Paul Reddick, who competed in the spinnaker class aboard “Blue J.”