Ocean Springs Catamaran Regatta takes extra safety precautions

Ocean Springs Catamaran Regatta takes extra safety precautions
(Photo source: WLOX)
(Photo source: WLOX)

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - National Safe Boating Week has ended, but concerns for safety on the water haven't.

With the recent tragedy at the Dauphin Island Regatta that left six dead, safety has never been more of a concern. Saturday, the Ocean Springs Yacht Club hosted its annual Catamaran Regatta, and safety was the number one item on everyone's agenda.

Although the skies were crystal clear and the sound was Regatta ready, there was a cloud hanging over the Ocean Springs Yacht Club's race.

"A couple of weeks ago, everything went sideways at the Dauphin Island race, we lost lives, we lost boats," said race captain, Arthur Shuman.

Six lives were lost at sea when a catastrophic storm blew through the race course. For the Ocean Springs Regatta, conditions were more than favorable, which is always the first thing these sailors check.

"That's the big concern, but we always take the same safety precautions, you can never slack off on that," said sailor, Mark Van-Doren.

Van-Doren knows that even the highest precautions can't keep you from harm in situations like the one that happened at Dauphin Island.

"It was just a freak storm that blew up," he said.

In those situations, a sailor can only do so much. Sarah Gaston sailed the Dauphin Island Regatta. She remembered what it was like when the storm clouds were moving in, threatening her and her sailing partner's safety. She said she put herself in God's hands and took a step back to analyze her situation.

"You basically say, are you ok, and then you see what you can do on the boat and what you have to do to save your life," said Gaston.

According to many at the yacht club, a catamaran sailor takes safety very seriously. But, in case of emergencies, there are people like Benton Howie, who follows the race as a safety boat, just in case.

"But I'm just another layer of safety, in case something happens like Mobile," said Howie.

Being a yacht club board member, and a former regatta sailor, he knows how quickly things can change on the water. Now, his main concern?

"I want to see people have fun."

One extra area of precaution for the regatta was a strictly enforced disqualification for sailors who weren't wearing a life jacket. Saturday's event saw the sailors racing to the east tip of Ship Island.

Sunday, there will be a distance race around Deer Island.

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