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CMCS Summerset Regatta races set for this weekend

By Staff | Oct 2, 2019

The CMCS Summerset Regatta is a sailboat enthusiast’s dream come true and it’s coming back to Fort Myers Beach again for its 54th year.

The Caloosahatchee Marching and Chowder Society race events are scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 5-6. Saturday’s races will all be buoy races in the vicinity of San Carlos Light, the area of water at the end of Sanibel’s sandbar, facing Fort Myers Beach. Sunday’s event is the big one, two Gulf side races down from Fort Myers to the Naples area and back.

Races start on Saturday at 9:55 a.m. and on Sunday at 9:25 a.m. and both go until the races are finished. The timing on the distance races can be a variable because the wind speed and direction are how this happens.

The best viewing areas are, according to organizers, anywhere on the northern half of the island facing the gulf. The Pink Shell, DiamondHead Resort, and anything close to the pier are said to be excellent for viewing. The rooftop bar of the Lani Kai will be hosting a viewing party as well.

In 1965, a few sailors wanted to get more like-minded people together, so placed a classified ad in the local newspapers looking for “Anyone interested in racing sailboats from Fort Myers Beach to Naples.”

This race eventually evolved into the Summerset Regatta, and the creation of the Caloosahatchee Marching and Chowder Society, which has hosted the regatta for the last 50 years.

“The original race was just a bunch of sailors having a good time. As it’s gotten older, we’ve turned it into a community event with proper sponsors, though we end up giving most of the funds to local youth sailing programs, the desire to share something we love with the next generation of sailors is very satisfying,” Allen Fiske, Regatta organizer, said.

With sponsors like Little Caesars, Bonita’s Bills, Offshore Sailing School, Erickson and Jensen Seafood Packers, Marine Trading post, Rice Windows and Doors and many more, the race is great exposure.

Entrants do not have to be part of a sailing club in the area to race; it’s open for all styles of sailboats as well, with less racing equipped boats receiving handicaps to match up with boats that are more suited to racing.

“We don’t want anyone to feel like it’s a waste of time. We want our people out there having a great time and putting on a great show,” Romaine said.

Competitors from as far away as Marco Island and Charlotte Harbor came to the Beach to participate in the regatta, and they’re expecting the same this year.

“It’s definitely a tradition. We have competitors that have been sailing for 40 or 50 years. A handful of our guys are in their 80s. It’s an experience, for sure, but it’s a life-long commitment from a lot of sailors,” Joel Andrews, of Erickson and Jensen Seafood Packers and a longtime competitor, said.