The Ocala Sailing Club (OSC) was formed in 1976 by Bill Britt, a Hobie Cat sailor. Bill promoted the sales, training and racing of the popular Hobie Cat sailboats in the area. Over the following years, OSC attracted many monohull sailors because of the various sailing activities.
In the beginning, sailing classes were held at the Central Florida Community College in Ocala. Ken Johnson, owner of Johnson’s Beach, supported Bill’s cause by providing water access to the lake for sailing events. It was located on the north shore of Lake Weir where Gator Joe’s Restaurant is today.
With the influx of new members in the 1980’s & 1990’s, OSC expanded its “fleet” to include more monohull sailboats. The Catalina 22 was especially popular, and in 1981, OSC hosted the first Catalina 22 National Regatta on Lake Weir. Members now had vessels from 20’ – 54’ in length. Some boats were based on Lake Weir, and others were in Tampa Bay and Yankeetown. Local sailing or racing was done on Lake Weir and Sunset Harbor, but there were many offshore regattas that OSC members raced during the 80’s & 90’s, such as:
The Michelob Cup (Treasure Island Yacht Club) on St. Patrick’s Day: an 18-nautical mile buoy race for non-spinnaker boats in the Gulf of Mexico; start & finish at John’s Pass.
The Regatta Del Sol al Sol (St. Petersburg Yacht Club) in May: a 456-nautical mile race from St. Petersburg, Florida to Isla Mujeres, Mexico (a little island offshore of Cancún).
The Lonesome Leg (Ocala Sailing Club) over Memorial Day weekend: a 15-nautical mile race from Yankeetown to Cedar Key & OSC’s Officer Induction ceremony; only monohulls with enclosed cabins were allowed to participate.
The Kahlua Cup (Clearwater Yacht Club) in November: an 86-nautical mile race from Clearwater Pass to Anclote Key, to Egmont Channel Buoy, to John’s Pass Buoy, then back to Clearwater Pass.
The Key West Conch Quest Regatta (Clearwater Yacht Club) in May: a 225-nautical mile race from Clearwater Pass to Key West. Below photo: Key West Conch Quest Regatta in a Cal 35 - May 1993
Now in the 2000’s, OSC members represent a wide variety of monohulls & multihulls ranging in size from 14’ – 54’, and more recently, a foiling boat. During these years, OSC accumulated the largest number of Boston Whaler Harpoon 5.2 (17’) boats in the U.S. In celebration of such an achievement, OSC decides to sponsor an annual regatta on Lake Weir. The 1st Annual Harpoon Nationals was in April of 2005 and continues today.
Other long-standing OSC-sponsored annual regattas are: 1) The Lake Weir Invitational / Big Sun Regatta every April (a two-day event). 2) The Sunset Harbor Challenge Around-the-Lake Race every October.
OSC members also compete in many other sailing club’s annual regattas, such as: 1) The Trans-Monroe Regatta (Lake Monroe Sailing Association) in March. 2) The MDYC Annual Regatta (Mt. Dora Yacht Club) in March. 3) The Mug Race (Rudder Club of Jacksonville) in May: a 38-nautical mile race up the St. John’s River from Palatka to Orange Park. 4) The Bone Island Regatta (Alice Petrat) in May: a 158-nautical mile race from Sarasota/Venice to Key West. 5) The Sanford Sailfest Regatta (Lake Monroe Sailing Association) in December. 6) The LESC Regattas (Lake Eustis Sailing Club) throughout the year.