In 2004, SAIL named Charlotte Harbor, Florida, one of its top 10 places to sail. Two short months later, fierce 120-knot winds from Hurricane Charley destroyed many homes, boats and businesses in the area.
Now, five and a half years afterward, the mangroves have returned, and thanks to the community’s remarkable determination, Charlotte Harbor is becoming a better sailing destination than ever. New hotels, a new convention center and plans to redevelop the waterfront are luring an increasing number of sailors to the scenic harbor. The bay’s shallow waters are a perfect draw for small- to medium-sized boats.
To showcase its rebirth, eight local sailing clubs held their inaugural Charlotte Harbor Regatta in February, attracting 200 sailors racing aboard 60 boats in eight classes—including the Viper 640, S2 7.9, Hobie Wave, Hobie 16, Sunfish, Precision 15, Laser and Flying Scot.
Held over three days, the regatta provided plenty of wind, with gusts in the mid-30s, and cool-for-Florida temperatures, thanks to the same storm that dumped record amounts of snow on Washington, D.C. this year.
Dennis Peck, a Sunfish champion and president of the Charlotte Harbor Community Center, say his goal is to grow the Charlotte Harbor Regatta along the same lines as the famed CORK regatta off Kingston, Ontario, where he worked with disabled sailors for six years.
“A world class-harbor deserves a world class-regatta,” agrees regatta chairman Brian Gleason.
For more on the event, visit charlotteharborregatta.com.