In the winter of 2003-04 Jamie Leopold came up with the idea of a regatta to benefit Lake Champlain, and with help from his wife Candis, they put together a plan that gave birth to the first Regatta for Lake Champlain in July 2004. The 14th Annual Regatta for Lake Champlain will be sailed July 15, 2017. The R4LC and has grown over the years and regularly has 40 to 50 boats competing in the event. Since it’s inception the Regatta has donated over $135,000 to organizations that promote the health, well-being, sustainable use, and stewardship of Lake Champlain. Beneficiaries include the Lake Champlain Committee, ECHO, the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center, the Lake Champlain Land Trust, and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, and a few others.
In 2007, after 3 years of limited participation (about 20 boats each year), the Regatta changed it’s format from windward/leeward races to a pursuit race. We did this to encourage more casual racers, and cruisers to participate in the event. Since then participation has blossomed and we now have 40-50 boats sailing in the event every year.
Previously, many sailors did not participate for two reasons:
1) Many casual sailors were concerned about 50 boats all jockeying for position on the same starting line at the same time….Gelcoat repairs are, after all, expensive.
2) In a pursuit race the first boat to finish wins because the handicap is taken at the start of the race. So no one has to wait for the race committee to perform the handicap process.
Both these problems disappear using in a pursuit race. In this format, boats receive staggered start times based on their PHRF ratings. Slower boats start first, followed by progressively faster and faster boats, with the scratch boat starting last. This eliminates all those crowds at the start. At the end of the race, you know where you finished.