DUNEDIN — This weekend, why not navigate over to this city's waterfront, where alabaster sails will billow over blue seas as the Dunedin Cup and Kiwanis Regatta returns for its 26th year.
This year's expanded affair, sponsored by the Dunedin Boat Club and Kiwanis of Dunedin, features plenty of races with both young and old salts plus a waterfront festival in Edgewater Park.
For the uninitiated, the Dunedin Cup takes place on Saturday and is geared toward larger sailboats that race in the gulf. The Kiwanis Regatta features competitions for prams, catamarans and Sunfish sailboats, most of which launch from Honeymoon Island and the Dunedin Marina.
"It will be fun, fun, fun," said Rod Collman, chairman of the Dunedin Youth Sailing Association, which benefits from the event. "This year, we have more boats, food, cars, displays. We'll have more sailors and more competition."
The Dunedin Cup is considered one of the premier racing regattas on Florida's west coast, having been sanctioned recently as a West Florida Performance Handicap Racing Fleet "Boat of the Year" race by the Suncoast Boat of the Year Series. As in golf, a handicap rating helps equalize the competition. "They haven't added a new race to this group in 20 years," Collman said, "so it's really an honor to be invited and included in this exclusive series of races."
The designation means boats will be coming from as far as Hudson Beach and Naples.
And for the first time, members of the Dunedin Youth Sailing Association, a group chartered in the spring of 2009, will race in the regatta.
"The association was formed to train and give youth in the community a competitive outlet," Collman said. "They will race in Optimist prams, which were originally created in the Clearwater-Dunedin area."
Landlubbers can enjoy food, fun and fantastic views of the races around the marina and in St. Joseph Sound from Edgewater Park, where a Saturday festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Highlights include live blues music, sports celebs and barbecue prepared by the Dunedin Kiwanis Club.
The Little Hearts Car and Bike Show, which raises funds for the Cardiac Kids Foundation of Florida, will be back with more antique and unique cars and motorcycles.
The Dunedin Fine Art Center plans to bring its children's art tent and offer creative opportunities for little ones.
Saturday evening the Dunedin Boat Club hosts its annual low country boil at $15 per person. Meals are limited to 250 and are first-come, first-served starting at 6 p.m. Tickets may be purchased in advance online.
Racing awards will be given out both Saturday evening at the low country boil and Sunday afternoon with raffle prizes and silent auctions.
Last year's cup and regatta raised $8,000 for the youth sailing organization. This year, Collman is aiming for $10,000.