Words: Sarah Tindall Photos: Courtesy of World Sailing
Our Sparkling City by the Sea will soon be able to show off our bay’s amazing offshore breezes that make us a premier destination for windsurfing, kiteboarding, and sailing. For the first time in its storied history, the Corpus Christi Yacht Club will host the 48th Youth Sailing World Championships from July 14-21. The event, which World Sailing regards as one of the most important regattas, will feature 387 competitors representing 65 countries.
This is not the first time that Corpus Christi has been chosen for a world class sailing event. Over the last two decades, the city has hosted seven different international sailing events and will host the 2019 Etchells Worlds next year.
Corpus Christi was chosen for the Youth World Sailing Championships in November 2014 at the annual World Sailing meeting in Spain. We competed with six other countries in our bid to win this event. Many years have passed since this competition was last held in the United States.
“With our consistent sea breeze, easy access to the sailing area, and lack of marine traffic, Corpus Christi is a great venue for an event of this size and scope,” says Mark Foster, a Corpus Christi native who is chairing the event with Corpus Christi Yacht Club’s Sandra Carl. Foster is also a U.S. Sailing Team member and World Champion. Carl adds, “We are looking forward to the opportunity to see these amazing young people compete in this sport at the highest level.”
The event resembles the Olympic Games in several ways. Each country is allowed one team per event and has its own qualification series for the championships. Most countries select representatives based on results from two or three events over the past year. This regatta will feature Olympic style opening and closing ceremonies including a “Parade of Nations,” South Texas mariachis, live country music, and barbeque with all the fixings.
The sailors, ranging in age from 12 to 19, will sail nine classes of watercraft, including RS: X Windsurfer, Laser Radial, 29er, I420, and Nacra 15. The boats will be launched from McGee Beach twice a day. The morning group will leave around 10 a.m., and the afternoon group will follow at about 2p.m. The races take place on Corpus Christi Bay. McGee Beach and the T-heads at the Corpus Christi Marina offer the best spectator views.
Sailing and boating enthusiasts from across the world will be tuning in to the event, which will be broadcast with live updates on all of the World Sailing media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
This year’s Youth Worlds is special for another important reason. It’s the first World Sailing Championship with a focus on sustainability and ocean conservation. The Corpus Christi Yacht Club has partnered with 11th Hour Racing, whose mission is to “establish strategic partnerships within the sailing and maritime communities to promote collaborative, systemic change benefitting the health of our ocean, one degree at a time.” As part of this sustainability Initiative, the regatta will be plastic free and include educational opportunities and beach cleanups.
Elizabeth Kratzig, who grew up in Corpus Christi and represented Corpus in the Youth Sailing Worlds in 1991, heads up the Green Team, which is responsible for the sustainable regatta initiatives. “By following environmentally sustainable practices at this regatta and through educational activities, the Green Team hopes to promote a passion for protecting our oceans in competitors, volunteers and the South Texas community.”
Locals can get in on the action with a variety of downtown events. The Art Center of Corpus Christi will feature environmentally themed art and interactive exhibits. Sheila Rogers’ upcycled plastic artwork will be displayed at the Art Center, and her “chandelier,” composed of 5,000 water bottles, will be hung at the Corpus Christi International Airport. Meg Aubrey, an Assistant Professor of Art at Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi, will design a mural to be painted by both competitors and the local community during the week of races. Dr. Sylvia Earle, a marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer, as well as a National Geographic Explorer in Residence since 1998, will deliver the keynote address at the opening ceremonies. Dr. Earle’s visit is sponsored by the Harte Research Institute and Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi.
To learn more about the event go to worlddsailingywc.org. To sign up to volunteer at the event or learn more about the Learn to Sail Program and other youth sailing opportunities in Corpus Christi, go to ccyc.com or call 361.883.6518.