Local Santa Rosa Beach sailors win race
Elizabeth Savage, race organizer and daughter of the Rags To Riches Regatta originator, pulled together another event enjoyed by both participants and spectators off Gratyon Beach on July 3.
Several challenges were overcome both the week prior to and the day of the race, as Hurricane Alex proved a double edged sword. The remnants of the storm swells made for challenging surf launches, however winds associated with the storm drove the looming oil away from the area.
High seas also kept support boats from assisting in setting the course buoys. Andy MacAlexander, local sailor from Point Washington loaded one of the five foot tall markers on his Hobie 16 and after a skillful launch managed to place the west mark, and off duty Walton County sheriff’s deputies placed the east mark off Bud and Alley’s in Seaside. The course was shortened this year to allow for support in the blustery conditions.
Three laps around the buoys were taxing to the racers and their equipment. One boat foundered in the shifting winds at the east end of the course and had to be abandoned because of extensive damage. At least two others retired from the race and made it to shore safely. Several of the competitors were able to jury rig on-water repairs to complete the race.
A close completion developed for third place between last year’s defending champion Bill Apple with crew Jeremy Trantina, both from Santa Rosa Beach) and Michael McNeer, also from Santa Rosa Beach with crew Fin Walsh of Fort Walton Beach. McNeer edged out Apple in the final leg to take third.
Karl Renelt and crew Bridget Precise, both of Santa Rosa Beach fended off Jim Gates of Ocean Sprigs, MS and crew T.J. Shaw of Gulf Port , MS. to take this year’s honors in the race.
Gates was overheard saying “ They sailed a good race, at least I kept him honest.”
Renelt responded with “you kept me nervous, is what you did you cranky old bastard.”
All is fun with these two competitors, as they have have had a friendly competition for many years. Renelt credits Gates with teaching him most of what he has learned in racing.
The course change made for a spectator friendly race and cheering crowds on the beach could be heard by the racers offshore.
Karl Renelt contributed to this story. Karl owns Into The Wild Eco Diversions and is a nature-based outfitter and American Canoe Association (ACA) certified instructor. To find out more, go to: http://www.itwecodiversions.com