Race Week in RockwallPublished: July 27, 2010
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If you've ever crossed the Interstate 30 causeway over Lake Ray Hubbard on a warm Wednesday afternoon, or taken more than a cursory glance at the Rockwall City logo, then you're no doubt aware that we do a fair amount of sailing here. On any given weekend, just about any time of the year, one can see sailing craft of all sizes from dinghies up to luxury cruising vessels, each striving to catch the evening breeze sweeping across the lake. The fact that these winds are generally pretty reliable makes Ray Hubbard one of Texas' most popular inland sailing venues. No fewer than three marinas around the lake offer services and slips for sailors, and weather permitting, races both formal and informal are held several times a week.
There can be no denying that the premier sailing event of the season is Dallas Race Week. Almost always held during the week of summer solstice in June, Race Week attracts sailors from all over North Texas. Started in 1984 by a group of local sailors, it was modeled after a week-long event held every spring in Antigua. The group, led by local racer Scott Self, had raced in the event and had so much fun that they decided to put one together in the Dallas area. Over the years, Race Week evolved into a fund raiser for local charities, and is now hosted by the Rockwall Breakfast Rotary Club on behalf of non-profit groups in our area. This year's race, held a month later than usual to take advantage of the new docks at the harbor, raised approximately $20,000 through corporate sponsorships and entry fees.
Most participants of Race Week would agree that the thrill of the race is only half the fun. Local establishments such as the Hilton and Flying Saucer host after-race parties with food, drink and music, while private parties may spring up at a moment's notice at any number of docks. For many, this is the time to connect with friends they may see only once a year.
The race committee is charged with keeping the race fun by setting courses which are challenging while being easily observed by those on shore. A fleet of boats flying colorful spinnakers on a downwind leg is an undeniably beautiful sight to behold, whether from vantage points on land or on water. Scott Self and Stephen Straughan, this year's chairmen, set a series of courses with an even greater variety than usual. "This year", said Self, "we wanted to cover every corner of the lake to keep it interesting for the sailors, and to give more sponsors a chance to participate." For the first time, racers got a chance to start and finish in the area near Bass Pro, getting a chance to try out the new guest docks and to sample the amenities of the new restaurants in that part of the lake.
If you've been bitten by the sailing bug but don't have a boat, fret not. Many boat owners, or "skippers", have room on board for those with experience,
or are willing to learn the sport. Taking lessons at a local sailing school is a good way to hook up with skippers in need of crew. Sometimes, just
walking along the docks and striking up a conversation with a saling crew will get you on board. If keeping your legs on land is more your style, there
are plenty of places to watch the action. The lighthouse at the Harbor and the jetty at Chandler's Landing are two of the best places to observe the start
and finish lines. To the south, Rush Creek Yacht Club hosts at least one race a week offshore of their clubhouse. Those who want to get out on the
water for a closer look, but don't want to work at trimming sails can try an evening cruise on the Seawolf . But be advised - getting that close to the action is likely to get you hooked. You'll be back for more.
Winners of this year's Dallas Race Week:
1. A Fleet – Hotter Tuna skippered by Robert C Williams of Bayview Yacht Club
2. B Fleet – August Blaze skippered by Jeff Greenwood of Bayview Yacht Club
3. I24 Fleet – IC YOU skippered by Doyle Sherman of Rush Creek Yacht Club
4. M&J Fleet – LIL Buddy skippered by Kenny Dykes of Lavon Yacht Club
5. Melges 24 Fleet – Gnatster skippered by John Hopper of Rush Creek Yacht Club
6. C Fleet – GLO Worm skippered by Greg Olsen of Rusk Creek Yacht Club