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Hill Country Regatta hosted by Fleet 64

Regatta Summary and Photographs provided by Gennifer and Levi Marconette

On the weekend of April 27, 2024, approximately 25 catamarans from across Texas and Oklahoma gathered at Black Rock Park on Lake Buchanan, Texas for the Hill Country Regatta, an event that dates back to around 1978. In the early days, sailors camped at the free Llano Park, which was “sometimes frequented by rowdy drunks after the bars closed at 2am, and it was always noisy at 5am or 6am when the fishermen showed up to launch their fishing boats on the ramp. As the LCRA continued to improve the adjacent Blackrock Park, many skippers chose to stay in the convenient (and storm-safe) cabins, and for the last 8 years, the regatta has been held at black Rock Park, which has nice facilities, and a helpful staff” said Jim Casto, Austin, TX, who has been sailing at Hill Country Regatta almost every year since 1988.

Hill Country Regatta is organized by Fleet 64, a group of sailors that regularly sail on lakes Buchanan and Travis. Jim Rehage, Commodore of Fleet 64, Austin, TX said, “We host this regatta each April to take advantage of the warm and breezy weather typical in central Texas this time of year. [We chose] Lake Buchanan for its consistent winds and sandy beaches.”

To plan the event, Regatta co-chairs Levi and Gen Marconette and Rikin Shah, all from Austin, TX, spent about six months networking with sailing colleagues at their local fleet, but also with members of DFW Hobie Fleet 23 and Texas City Dike Yacht Club. Hill Country Regatta was really a showcase of the sailing community showing up to support each other and the sport. David Clark, Dallas, led the charge for sponsorship; Greg Congdon, Houston, encouraged sailors from the Kemah and gulf regions of Texas to venture to the hill country; John Baker, Galveston, and Kevin Bergen, Alvin, procured beverages for the evening event. Additionally, sailors from Oklahoma fleets—Jimmie Smith, Fleet 251; Phil Collins, Fleet 131; and Bryan Rainbow, Fleet 63–traveled south to support their Texas neighbors, who will then travel north later in the year to support Oklahoma regattas.

The camaraderie of sailing is why these same sailors, many of whom recently sailed together at Ides of March in Lake Somerville, will race together throughout the summer and fall. Mac Gleeson, Floresville, TX, sailed with his daughter, and also brought his wife and two sons, who enjoyed Black Rock campgrounds. Gleeson indicated his family “didn’t know many people before going, but everyone was really friendly and welcoming. We are definitely planning to get to some of the other regattas.”

Hill Country Regatta was an opportunity for various catamarans to sail in a one-design class, Hobie 17, Hobie 18, etc., and also in a handicapped open multihull class. “The wind gods did not disappoint on Saturday,” commented Rehage: winds gusted up to 30 knots, keeping Mike Butler’s Buchanan fire and rescue water crew busy as several catamarans capsized with the strong gusts. While one catamaran demasted, no sailors were injured, thanks to the combined efforts of the fire crew and race committee.

Juke Ball, Hill Country Regatta’s Principal Race Officer said, “I have been competitively sailing multihulls since 2001 at a broad range of events from super local to international, fun quickies to long distance. The first few years I definitely took more from the sailing community than I gave, I suppose as one does while learning. Then I started sponsoring events. I f***ing love racing so as PRO all I want is to crush out plentiful great races the way I’d want them. That drive makes being PRO fun, and for good racing.”

While Hill Country Regatta has ended for 2024, Fleet 64 looks forwarded to planning for 2025–after, of course, the sailing season slows later this fall.

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