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The SCENE Magazine

32nd HARVEST MOON Regatta: October 25-28

The largest port to port race in North America will celebrate 32 years this month when more than 150 sailing yachts gather in front of Galveston’s Pleasure Pier for the start of a 150-mile race in open Gulf waters to Port Aransas. 

The Harvest Moon Regatta is a US Sailing “offshore” regatta open to all racing cruising spinnaker and non-spinnaker sailing yachts with a minimum length of 27 feet.  More than 150 boats are expected to race this year with close to 2,000 racers, friends and family attending the awards ceremony. 

The regatta is organized by Bay Access, a charitable organization supporting amateur racing.  It is hosted by Lakewood Yacht Club, City of Port Aransas and Mustang Island.  It is up for debate among sailors if they participate each year to win or more for the popular Welcome Sailors Rum Party following the race in Port Aransas and sponsored by Bacardi.

What is not up for debate, is the tremendous growth of the regatta since the first year in 1987, when 17 yachts participated.

Legend has it that one Friday night in the Lakewood Yacht Club bar (following a long Board of Director’s meeting), the often discussed topic “we need to use our boats more” evolved into “we need to sail offshore more.” 

A few more Barcardi drinks and some wild ideas followed that night, but unlike many ideas birthed at a bar and fueled by adult beverages, the concept of organizing a race to take place in the Gulf of Mexico did not fade away, but germinated into plans for an event to include as many sailors as possible for a late fall offshore sail. The idea was shared with Houston Yacht Club, Texas Corinthian Yacht Club and the Galveston Bay Cruising Association, as well as the LYC Board of Directors.  After several meetings and lots of discussions it was determined that LYC would spearhead the effort and the Harvest Moon Regatta was born. 

The first regatta was designed to run for about a week, sailing from the Galveston jetties to Port Isabel for race #1, then back up the coast to Port Aransas as race #2.  Then there was Port Aransas to inside the Galveston jetties for race #3 and on to the Seabrook marker two for race #4.  Seventeen yachts sailed that first year.  In year two (1988), the regatta changed forever when Hurricane Gilbert blew away the facilities in Port Isabel.   Thus began the tradition of sailing to Port Aransas under a magnificent full moon each October. 
hanks to Mother Nature and Hurricane Gilbert, the Harvest Moon Regatta steadily grew from the 17 yachts of 1987 to more than 260 yachts in recent years.  This was due in large part to the perfect destination, Port Aransas.  This ideal Texas port allows yacht owners and sailors to use minimal days from work to join in on what can be a most memorable overnight sail down the Texas coast during what is traditionally, the best offshore sailing time of the year. For further information, please check the race website at