With winds howling, it was tough sailing for competitors in The Santa Elena Regatta in Beaufort Saturday.
The annual combined catboat and keelboat competition consists of the Jean Ribaut Cup Saturday, and the Pedro Menendez Cup Sunday, drawing boats from across the southeast.
Pushed along by the high winds, the catboats racing Saturday were screaming across the Beaufort River as they approached downtown Beaufort.
“We’ve got incredible winds,” said Jim Thomas, the regatta chairman.
One racer decided not to race at all, deciding it would not be much fun. “It’s just too much,” Thomas said.
Prolonged winds of up to 35 mph pushed the catboats around at times, especially as they maneuvered around race buoys.
A boom snapped off the mast of one boat, forcing the captain to steer the ailing vessel to the day dock in Beaufort, the result of the wind and and an aging boat. At the time, the boat was in third place.
“You can easily break things on a day like today,” Thomas said.
On Saturday, 15- to 18-foot-long catboats, mostly from regional sailing clubs, raced on the Beaufort River between the Woods Bridge and the Intercoastal Waterway G39 marker.
Sunday’s race features 18- to 22-foot-long keelboats, from clubs across the Southeast, racing offshore in Port Royal Sound, generally between Hilton Head, Bay Point and Parris Island. The race was expected to begin at 10 a.m. in downtown Beaufort.
The races pay homage Frenchman Jean Ribaut and Spaniard Pedro Marquez, who were early explorers of the region.
The Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club is the sponsor of the races.