BIG SUNFISH TURNOUT

The 20th annual Harkers Island Sunfish Regatta expects a big turnout this weekend.

HARKERS ISLAND — The 20th annual Harkers Island Sunfish Regatta is set to sail Saturday with big challenges in store for competitors.

This competition started in 2001 when a group of sailors gave themselves a challenge: to race around Harkers Island in a Sunfish. This is a demanding, 10-mile sail navigating through marshes and negotiating a narrow drawbridge.

In its 20th year, all experienced Sunfish sailors and their families are invited for a weekend of racing and onshore activities at the regatta.

Launching and racing will take place at Shell Point at the east end of Cape Lookout National Seashore. The event will consist of the Island Wind Race that is described as an obstacle course where sailors choose which direction they circumnavigate the island, hopefully with a sea breeze. That evening, a replay of the race can be viewed while those on hand enjoy North Carolina barbeque with slaw, hushpuppies and homemade dessert. And the popular rum cake contest will certainly bring lots of fun.

On Sunday, those old, but seaworthy, boats will compete in the “Beater” class which can be an all-out race or a memorable outing.

“We are excited to have Olympian Andrey Quintero from Columbia, South America joining us for what has become one of the country’s largest Sunfish regatta events,” it was noted in a news release. “Andrey raced in the Sunfish Lazer class in the 2012 London games. He will be sharing his knowledge and experience with sailors.”

Sailors can register online at regattanetwork.com. The event is sponsored by Harkers Island Sailing Club, a nonprofit organization whose members promote training for young sailors.

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