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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

An interview with Ryan Jordan about the 2024 Space Coast Invitational

by David Schmidt 19 Mar 15:00 GMT March 23-24, 2024
Flying Scots lighting it up off the breeze at the Space Coast Invitational © Ryan Jordan Collection

If you’re into racing One Designs on Florida’s warm and often sunny waters in March, the Indian River Yacht Club’s Space Coast Invitational should be on your radar. The event is set to unfurl over the weekend of March 23-24, and is open to Flying Scots, RS Aeros, Melges 14s, and Lasers (ILCAs).

While Flying Scot skippers must be members of the class’s Flying Scot Sailing Association to participate in this regatta, there are no membership prerequisites for skippers competing in the other classes. Flying Scot teams can expect to race Windward-Leeward courses, while the other fleets may sail on another course.

According to the event’s NOR, racing will unfurl on the waters of the Banana River, while regatta festivities will take place at nearby Kelly Park, on Merritt Island. Also, for road-tripping teams, camping spots are available at Jetty Park and Kelly Park.

I checked in with Ryan Jordan, who is serving as the Indian River Yacht Club’s fleet representative for the 2024 Space Coast Invitational, via email, to learn more about this One Design regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Space Coast Invitational, its history, and the origins of its colorful name?

The Indian River Yacht Club Space Coast Invitational is a multi-fleet regatta based out of Merritt Islands Kelly Park, on the Banana River. The regatta was originally hosted for the Flying Scot fleet but has been expanded to include other fleets such as the Melges 14 and RS Aero fleets. Our area of Florida is known as the Space Coast because of Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, and the various space related ventures in the area. From Kelley Park and the water the regatta is sailed on, participants can see the launch pad support equipment and lightning-suppression catenaries, and with the current commercial launch cadence, there’s a good chance a launch will occur while participants are in the area.

What kinds of sailors does the race tend to attract? Also, how would you describe competition levels at this regatta?

The Space Coast Invitational attracts trailerable classes from all over the country. While it is still cold in much of the country, we are in the heart of the Florida racing season.

This year we are excited to hoist the Flying Scot’s, Melges 14’s, and RS Aero’s.

We often have very competitive skippers and crews at our regattas, and equally look forward to keeping the sport of sailing fun for everyone.

What kind of entry numbers are you seeing ahead of this year’s event? How does this stack up against previous recent editions of the event?

This year we are expecting a great turnout amongst the various fleets, with a total of 22 teams currently registered (four Flying Scots, six Melges 14s, and 12 RS Aeros), and we typically expect a second big wave of participants registering a few weeks out from the regatta.

We are targeting active fleets in the area so this year is stacking up to be a great turnout and could easily be one of the best.

Weather-wise, what kind of conditions can sailors expect to encounter on the waters off of Merritt Island in late-March? What are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

Let’s try not to jinks the weather!

Late march is typically about as good as it gets for weather in Florida, although Floridians might be still wearing winter coats in the early mornings.

We should expect temperatures to average in the upper 70s during the day and lower 60s at night. Water temperatures should also be starting to rise and be in the low 70s. In March, the average wind speed at Kelly Park is in the low teens out of an easterly direction.

Best case, we get beautiful blue skies with slightly chilly morning in the mid-60s, warming up mid-day to around 80 with an amazing seabreeze kicking in the low to mid-teens.

Worst case, [we get] a late rainy cold front barrel down, producing cool rain and northeast or west winds. Either way, we will sail if the conditions are safe and look forward the everyone having a great time.

Do you see local knowledge playing a big or small role in the regatta’s outcome? Can you please explain?

Local knowledge always helps at any venue. The Banana River near Kelly Park typically has great stable conditions. It is far enough from a major inlet to have any tidal influence or currents, and when the sea breeze kicks up out of the east or southeast, sailors can expect consistent conditions across the racecourse.

Of course, like anywhere, you can expect lifts in certain areas as wind is affected by the land structure in the area. In the event of “atypical conditions” such as wind out of the westerly direction, things can get challenging and experience sailing in the area will benefit teams.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) sailors, what would it be?

My advice to visiting and local sailors in the area is to just enjoy the area and our amazing sport of sailing.

If possible, come a few days ahead and watch a rocket launch, go sailing, or hangout in cocoa beach with friends and family. We look forward to having all the teams in our beautiful area!

Can you tell us about any efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to lower the regatta’s environmental footprint or otherwise green-up the regatta?

The Indian River Yacht Club is helping minimize the environmental footprint of this regatta by using a committee boat with an economical low fuel burning engine.

The fleets in this regatta could also be considered environmentally friendly because they are trailerable boats [that] can be towed with small SUVs or car.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add about this year’s Space Coast Invitational, for the record?

The Indian River Yacht Club is excited to have boats and teams travelling from all over the United States and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone to our area. For additional information please look at the 2024 Space Coast Invitational on Regatta Network. www.regattanetwork.com/event/27280

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