Sailing Street Dance: StAR Regatta

For anyone who thinks one-design sailing is all about white sails, windward-leewards, and winning, here’s something completely different: the Street Art Regatta (StAR). On February 9, a fleet of handpicked Opti sailors will hoist hand-painted sails and then tack and jibe through a carefully choreographed routine off the Lauderdale Yacht Club docks, creating a dance of colorful canvases. 

Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation teamed up with Grace Arts Center to create this unique combination of sailing and artwork. And after sailing, five of the gorgeous one-of-a-kind sails—each different on port and starboard—will be auctioned off to support the Foundation’s scholarship program.

“Sailing teaches competency,” StAR co-chair Connie Commette says. “It also teaches teamwork—and lifelong friendships! These kids can learn all they want in their classrooms and on the computer, but with sailing they’re hands-on, navigating a boat on their own. And the Foundation makes it possible for kids who couldn’t otherwise afford it to get that experience.” 

Connie and I are a perfect example of the lifelong friendships sailing creates. We met at my very first Snipe Worlds in 1993, and one animated discussion after racing soon inspired a well-received Sailing World article. Our conversations always inspire my own creativity, and I like to think they also help spark Connie’s seascapes—even though her paintings don’t include boats. 

Last year, I watched jealously from my New England desk as Connie combined two great passions—art and competitive dinghy sailing—into helping turn the first StAR into a visual feast of skills. Over 200 people watched Opti sailors set art into motion; the video makes it easy to understand why this year’s event is predicted to be even bigger. 

The sail-murals are all one-of-a-kind works created by nationally and internationally recognized artists. My personal favorite is from Tom Rossetti, who’s represented by New River Fine Art in Fort Lauderdale. I can’t wait to see all of his colors dancing among the other sails. 

I’ll be watching this year’s StAR from my New England desk once again—jealous of everyone lining the Intercoastal Waterway to cheer on the well-decorated and well-handled Optimists. Maybe, in addition to raising money for a worthy cause, this innovative event will prove to some of those spectators that one design racing is more than white sails, windward-leewards, and winning? Optis can be a visual vehicle for street art—and raise the money needed to help future sailors make lifelong friendships. 

Even if (like me) you can’t make it to Lauderdale Yacht Club for the action, you can still help support the area’s future sailors by making a donation. There will be a live link to the auction, and dinner tickets are still available; any amount is welcome. The future sailors (and artists) of Fort Lauderdale thank you!

Have you seen an equally creative use of sails, or another form of art combined with sailing? Share it in the comments below, or send me an email. I read every single one, with thanks.

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