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An interview with Bill Purcell on the 2023 Waccamaw Sailing Club's Alligator Run Regatta

by David Schmidt 12 Apr 2023 15:00 UTC April 15-16, 2023

If your idea of a good time involves handicap or One Design racing on a beautiful North Carolina lake with talented sailors, meet the Waccamaw Sailing Club's Alligator Run Regatta. The event is set to unfurl on the waters of Lake Waccamaw from April 15-16, 2023, and is being hosted by the Waccamaw Sailing Club, in Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina. According to the regatta's NOR, the event is open to all boats with a North American Portsmouth Yardstick rating.

While the event will create a One Design class anytime five or more vessels of the same design enter, the event anticipates welcoming monohulls ranging from Buccaneers Tanzers, and Wayfarers, while expected multihull classes include F18s, A-Class cats, and Weta trimarans.

If you're envisioning big grins, you're on the right tack.

Entry includes continental breakfasts before racing, post-racing soft drinks, a t-shirt, and two great days of racing. (It also buys admission for one to the club's dinner on Saturday, October 1, but that's then and there's plenty of great racing to happen first.)

I checked in with Bill Purcell, race chair of the 2023 Waccamaw Sailing Club's Alligator Run Regatta, via email, to learn more about this exciting handicap and One Design event.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Alligator Run Regatta's history, culture, and the origins of its colorful name?

This is the third running of the Alligator Run. The first was scheduled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Waccamaw Sailing Club, but had to be postponed due to Covid restrictions.

The first [running] was in 2021 when some outdoor gathering restrictions were lifted and was well attended by everyone eager to get out and do something [organized] with monohulls and cats.

We have a strong group of F-18s [two] of whom finished in the Top 50 in the Worlds last year. Also Hobies, Nacras, Wetas, Wayfarers, Tanzer16 and couple of large Beneteaus.

The name was inspired by the alligators that inhabit the surrounding swamps but are rarely in the Lake. A need was seen for a spring regatta as a bookend to our longstanding fall regatta. Carol Lawlor was the principle organizer, and creative talent behind the name and logo.

What kinds of sailors one can expect to meet at this event?

You will encounter very experienced and competitive sailors, as well as novices and those that are just happy to get around the course. Some of the most friendly and helpful folks you will ever meet. Most are from North and South Carolina, a few from Virginia and we have even had one member from the San Diego Yacht Club, who I believe now lives in Tennessee.

How would you describe the competition levels at the Alligator Run Regatta? Are we talking about Olympic hopefuls, or moms and dads sailing with their kids? Or, maybe a blend of all talent levels?

Some of the classes are very competitive but there are some who strap a grandchild and just round the marks.

How many boats, in total, are you expecting? Also, are some classes attracting more boats than others?

This year this an [event] on the F-18 circuit, so we expect a lot of them and it is also the Nationals for the Tanzer 16s, which was cancelled last October because of a hurricane. We anticipate 40-plus boats total.

Generally speaking, what kinds of conditions can sailors expect on the waters of Lake Waccamaw in mid-April?

Last year the winds were very strong and it was quite cold. This year the weather looks like it will be quite nice with low in the 60s and high of 82 winds 6 to 10 knots.

Typically, our best winds are in the afternoon as we pick up some sea breeze (we are close enough to the coast for that).

Sunday morning is always a surprise.

What kind of onshore entertainment can sailors look forward to once the finishing guns have gone silent each day?

There is a welcome party Friday night and live entertainment Saturday, with a good southern dinner of fried chicken and pulled-pork barbecue.

Can you please tell us about any efforts that the club has made to green-up the regatta and generally lower its environmental wake?

We do have electronic registration encourage and provide recycle bins.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add about the event, for the record?

What most folks may find (and did find) quite astonishing is that this event was organized and very successfully managed by Carol Lawlor, who had no experience with regattas. Of course, now she is a wizened pro.

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