The annual competition is expected to draw nearly 65 teams.
Sails will be seen on the horizon as The Flying Scot Midwinter Championship will again head to Sarasota Bay March 24-27.
The annual championship is expected to bring hundreds of sailors to the area. Fifty-six teams are already registered, with 65 expected, bringing 160 competitors to the bay, said regatta chairman John Pether.
Competitors travel from all over the country, bringing their boats with them.
“That’s something that really makes this race special,” Pether said. “Some people are coming from Michigan, Maine, New York, and they’re really having to struggle through the snow and trail their boats hundreds of miles, but they do it because they love the race.”
One competitor, though, is from a little closer to home. Zeke Horowitz, a Sarasota native turned Maryland resident, has won the Midwinters four out of the last five years.
For Horowitz, who learned how to sail from his father who now crews on his boat, the Midwinters is all about the friendships found when the racing is over.
“It’s a fun group of people to compete against and socialize with when on shore,” Horowitz said. “There’s a lot of father/son and husband/wife duos and a lot of sailing knowledge, so it’s the camaraderie on shore that makes this race so great.”
The racing will be done over four days, with a total of 12 races, weather permitting. There are two fleets — “the challenger” fleet for newer sailors and “the championship” fleet for more experienced sailors — that will race each day, beginning five minutes apart.
Pether said it can be difficult for spectators to watch because most of the race happens so far from shore, but visitors may see some racing as the boats come back into the bay.
In addition to the racing, competitors will have the chance to participate in a “Top Gun” session where the top sailors will give weather and tactical hints.
Racing will kick off Sunday as Horowitz will again make a run for the title.