ABOVE: Mount Dora Sailing Regatta (Photo by Ingrid Zagers, Z.ePhotography)
Once again, colorful sails will gracefully litter Lake Dora near the end of March. The 70th Annual Mount Dora Sailing Regatta is expected to draw dozens of boats over the two-day event spanning March 25 and 26. The Regatta is open to competitors of all ages and all classes of boats, including Optis, Lasers, 420s, Flying Scots, Hunters, Open Bics, Sunfish, Hobies, Wayfarers, and Catalinas. Three courses will be spread across a portion of Lake Dora to take advantage of the wind and provide ample space for competition. The race course for young competitors is closer to Lighthouse Point, while the two courses in the middle of the lake feature boats ranging from twenty-two-foot Catalinas to Hobie Waves.
Regatta activity picks up at the Simpson Cove launch area on March 24 as sailors begin launching their boats and settling up for competition. Weather and wind permitting, the first race typically kicks off Saturday in the early afternoon and the last race usually finishes close to 4 p.m. Typically, three to four races will be sailed that afternoon, depending on the weather. The 4th Avenue docks, Lighthouse Point, and Palm Island Boardwalk provide excellent vantage points for spectators. Sunday's first race usually starts at 9:30 a.m., and no races typically begin after 12 p.m.
The regatta, organized by Mount Dora Yacht Club (MDYC) is the longest running annual event in the city. MDYC, the oldest inland yacht club in Florida, held its first regatta in 1913. At that time the event featured powerboats and was reportedly such an exciting event that local businesses closed so everyone could attend. In 1953, the regatta transitioned to sailboats to alleviate a noise issue.