OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The winds were up and the sails were full at the first day of competition in the U.S. Multihull Championship at Ocean Springs Yacht Club.
The prize? The Hobie Alter Trophy.
When Bruce Fields says Ocean Springs is a good place to sail, you can take it to the bank. The 83-year-old Arkansas resident is the patriarch in Hobie racing.
"I've been sailing Hobies for 46 years, and this is one of the best places to sail in the United States," said Fields.
Fields is one of 16 sailors from nine states and Canada competing in the event hosted by the Ocean Springs Yacht Club.
"Every once in a while, I'll win a race," Fields said. "If it's light air, I'll do good. But, today, it'll be tough on me."
It was. Fields lost a battle with the wind and waves in one of the early races, but he wasn't the only one. One after another toppled, but they were up almost as quickly as they fell.
Oklahoma resident Dan Jarrett loves it all the same.
"The wind, the ocean, the salt. It's all great," Jarrett said. "And the people here are just very, very gracious. Southern hospitality. We love it. They really take care of us here."
Bart Beck is here for the first time. He traveled all the way from Colorado.
"They're having snow there, so I'm happy to be here," said Beck.
This is the first time in years the yacht club has hosted the event, but it's experienced in hosting several other sailing championships.
"As far as the sailors here are concerned, this is why we're here," said Joe Pocreva, with the Ocean Springs Yacht Club. "We love bringing people down to the coast to see Ocean Springs, the great sailing that we have here, and an opportunity just to be part of U.S. Sailing."
Fields said he still enjoys the challenge.
"It's just a lot of fun," Fields said. "It keeps you working and staying in shape. It's just a hell of a sport."
The competition continues through Sunday and will coincide with the Hobie Midwinter competition over the same course.