Galveston Bay will again be the site for the largest youth regatta in the state of Texas as the six-day Texas Youth Race Week sets sail Saturday.
About 150 kids usually participate in the event, coordinator Leigh Ann Rhodes-Zittrer said, and it also serves as a qualifier for the Junior Olympics.
“If you finish in the top 25 percent and sail all six days, you are qualified to participate in what we call team trials, which will happen in the spring next year,” Rhodes-Zittrer said. “It’s the most prestigious, important competition of the year for these little boats in the U.S. If you score well enough at team trials, you then are eligible to go and represent the United States in international regattas.”
For those who may feel getting all the way to international competition is a long shot, Rhodes-Zittrer pointed out that area resident Wiley Rogers, a member of the Houston Yacht Club based in La Porte, recently competed in the world championships.
For 9-year-old Seabrook resident Ethan Polsen, it will be his first time in the Texas Youth Race Week, and he said he just looks forward to having a good time.
“It’s fun because you get to have competition, and it’s just really fun and exciting,” Polsen, who has been racing since age 7 and has entered four contests, said.
The regatta begins at the Houston Yacht Club on Saturday and Sunday.
After a day off Monday, the event continues Tuesday through Friday at the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club in Kemah.
The Lakewood Yacht Club of Seabrook will serve as the host of the Thursday and Friday races.
All the races kick off at noon.
“All three clubs in the area work in cooperation with each other to run what are essentially three separate races,” Rhodes-Zittrer said.
The race is open to kids ages 6-17 with younger kids racing in optimists (single-person boats about 7 feet, 9 inches long) and older racers in lasers (one- to two-person vessels about 13 feet, 9 inches long). Participants will be broken into divisions based on experience level.
At a glance
WHAT: Texas Youth Race Week
WHEN: Saturday through Friday, with a day off Monday
WHERE: Houston Yacht Club in La Porte on Saturday and Sunday; Texas Corinthian Yacht Club in Kemah on Tuesday through Friday