The 2018 USODA Mid-Winter Team Race Championship got off to a frigid start on Saturday morning a the Windmill Harbour Marina on Hilton Head.
The three-day event, which is sponsored by the Hilton Head Island Junior Sailing Academy, is the largest one design regatta, meaning one kind of sailboat, that has been held in the area in about 50 years, according to Eric Norman, fleet captain of the South Carolina Yacht Club and regatta chairman.
About 115 kids ranging in age from 8 to 15 are competing with Optimist dinghies, otherwise known as Optis, for their team to be one of the two that qualifies to represent the U.S. in the 2018 Trofeo Marco Rizzoti Team Race Regatta in Italy this June.
Most are from the East coast, but the teams are from all over the country and Canada.
The teams, which are made up of four members, compete with one other team in a round-robin fashion.
Each competitor is scored in the order that they cross the finish line, so one through eight, and the team with the lowest score wins the race.
After around 140 races on Saturday, the teams will be divided into a gold fleet and a silver fleet for Sunday and Monday based on how they scored during the first days races.
Temperatures are expected to be lower on Sunday and Monday than they were on Saturday, so many of the kids brought dry suits to keep them warm.
“Honestly, when they are out there sailing, they aren’t even thinking about how cold it is,” Norman said. “While it’s supposed to be bloody cold tomorrow the wind will be a little less, so it won’t feel as cold.”
The regatta continues on Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. and will complete with the championship races on Monday.
Delayna Earley: 843-706-8151