For nearly a century, Gulf Coast yacht clubs have competed in a series of Labor Day sailboat races, with the previous year's winner hosting the event. Find out why so many of the Lipton Races have taken place in Bay St. Louis.
- story by Lisa Monti
Schmitt said the change to the faster and lighter Viper 640 class opens a new era for the association and the Liptons. “The debut of the sportier and faster Viper 640 in this year’s challenge will generate a lot of interest.. Everyone is coming out to see the new boats in action.”
The New Viper 640 in Action
The BWYC was reorganized in 1921 as the Bay-Waveland Yacht and Athletic Club. The club was admitted to the Gulf Yachting Association in 1922, according to the club’s website.
Schmitt said eight Bay-Waveland members have served as commodore of the Gulf Yachting Association: John Rawlings (1904), Eaton Bowers (1909), J. Alvin Weinfurter (1957), Henry Chapman (1967), Harry Chapman (1982), Basil Kennedy (1992), Walter Chamberlain (2002) and Judy Reeves (2009).
Sir Thomas Lipton, considered a benefactor to the sport of yachting, created the challenge that bears his famous name and it is considered is one of the oldest and most prestigious champion series around. The Pensacola Yacht Club won the inaugural race in 1920.
“The Bay-Waveland Yacht Club is steeped in history with the Lipton Cup,” Schmitt said. “We’ve won it 24 times in its 98-year history.”
The previous year’s winner generally hosts the regatta on their home waters every year. Last year’s host Pass Christian Yacht Club tied with Bay-Waveland in total points at the end of the regatta, but Bay-Waveland lost the tie-breaker. The Lipton rules prevent a club from hosting in consecutive years. “So we’re hosting it as runner-up,” Schmitt said.
About 20 yacht clubs will compete for the 2018 Lipton trophy in four races. The event gets under way with a flag raising ceremony at noon on Saturday. The first of two back to back races is set to begin at 2 p.m. The first of two races on Sunday will begin at 10:30 a.m. The club will host a party on Saturday night. Spectators can watch the action from the front deck of the Yacht Club, Schmitt said.
The winner gets the perpetual trophy to display in the club for a year. “Our hope is we will bring it over from the Pass to the Bay and place it right at the top of the stairs for the next year,” Schmitt said.