Ricky Akers stood at the podium on the large deck overlooking the Beaufort River, announcing awards for the South Atlantic Yacht Racing Association Youth Challenge.
Before announcing the winning club, Akers interjected a plea. The host Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club had won the event the past three years. And Akers, a past commodore, encouraged one of the other clubs to grab the honor in 2013 after announcing Beaufort's fourth consecutive victory in the event.
The club's mild celebration was with an eye toward all the work that will go into hosting another regatta next year.
"You want to win, and we're definitely trying to win, but this is our third year hosting it, and it'd be nice if another club could take on that burden a little bit," said club treasurer Walt Gnann, one of the club's crew of volunteers known as the River Rats. "We don't mind. We love to race and are glad to host it."
The Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club doesn't appear ready to allow the adults a break. The club's sailors claimed victories in two of the four classes Friday. Drummond Koppernaes won the Sunfish division. Rolfe Glover won in the Lasers.
Other winners were Lake Norman (N.C.) Yacht Club's Austin Ando, who led the Optis, and Reid Kaplan and Frannie McKenzie, of Charleston's Carolina Yacht Club, who manned the 420.
Glover, an 18-year-old Savannah native, has worked as a sail instructor at the Beaufort club the past two summers and was once a member of the club's race team. He said conditions Friday on the Beaufort River favored racing.
"This isnt always a venue that has really good wind," Glover said. "It's usually pretty light. So I was glad to see the sea breeze come in early."
Scoring consisted of five races, with the cumulative finishes determining the winners. Racing was held on different courses, with race officials on hand in motor boats to monitor the white sails.
The favorable conditions allowed for close racing.
"They're just going around in one clump, which means they're very competitive with each other," said Gnann, whose son crewed on a 420. "It's good racing."
The racing kickstarted the club's biggest weekend of the year. The youth sailors will be joined today and Sunday by more adult and junior sailors from throughout the Southeast for the Lowcountry Regatta, with roughly 120 boats expected.
The open regatta's organizers hope the breeze remains healthy. Regatta chairman George Dewhirst said he would like to get in at least three races today and one Sunday, with the goal to race five. The Sunday races can be tricky, Dewhirst said, with participants needing to get back on the road by early afternoon, before the best breezes arrive.
"It looks like it's going to be a beautiful weekend," Dewhirst said. "I just hope we have enough wind to get the races in. That's always the unknown, to make sure you have enough wind."
SAYRA Youth Challenge
Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club
Opti: 1. Austin Ando, Lake Norman (N.C.) Yacht Club
Laser: 1. Rolfe Glover, Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club
Sunfish: 1. Drummond Koppernaes, Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club
420: 1. Reid Kaplan and Frannie McKenzie, Carolina Yacht Club (Charleston)
(Winner hosts the following year)
1. Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club
2. Carolina Yacht Club (Wrightsville Beach, N.C.)
3. Lake Norman (N.C.) Yacht Club