GBCA - The Place to Race since 1947
GBCA is a non-profit organization that strives to put on quality yacht racing events at minimal cost. Annual dues are enough to cover the Club's overhead, newsletter and mailing expenses. Nominal-race entry fees are charged to cover the cost of trophies and event socials. In order to keep costs low, GBCA relies a great deal on volunteer efforts by the membership. Volunteer requirements include legal and technical advice, race and protest committee members, event chairpersons, newsletter articles, and help with social events
GBCA traces its origin back to 1947 when a small group of sailboat racing enthusiasts informally organized the club. From that modest beginning, GBCA has grown to a current membership of about 150 members.
The first year, a fleet of six Stout Fellas plus an assortment of four or five other cruising yachts was known as the Stout Fella Organization of Galveston Bay. Races were held on the bay under the direction of the unofficial Commodore and founding father, Bud Smith. The Club was started, existed, and prospered as a letterhead organization without elected officers, bylaws, dues, or a home. The club was founded because owners of various makes of boats wanted to race.
In the beginning, the fleet was divided into three classes: one for racing hulls, one for cruising hulls, and one for boats that did not fit either of these classes. Since that time, rating systems and classes have changed, but the club still holds true to its original concept of promoting the racing of sailboats as economically as possible, without being encumbered by real estate and high dues.
In 1948, the group adopted the present name, Galveston Bay Cruising Association. The Club was formally organized in 1954 with elected officers, bylaws, and handicap classes. In 1975, it was incorporated as a non-profit organization. GBCA has been one of the leading sailing clubs in Texas and has been a member of the Texas Sailing Association since its organization in 1952 and the US Sailing Association (formerly the United States Yacht Racing Union).
In 1972, GBCA leased a clubhouse located in the Seabrook Shipyard to be used as a headquarters for the club. In 1979, the club installed a telephone with an answering recorder and obtained a part-time administrative assistant. After 16 years the club finally outgrew the little yellow clubhouse at Seabrook, and on January 1, 1987, the club moved to a new home at Watergate Yachting Center. Ten years later, in response to increasing costs at Watergate, GBCA moved back to the (now blue) clubhouse at Seabrook Shipyard.
Bay racing has evolved over the years, using different handicap rules (e.g., TIRC, IOR, MORC, PHRF, IMS) and boat types (e.g., racing cruising, multi-hull, and one design.) In the beginning, the club held regular bay races in the spring and fall on a triangular course as well as specialty races such as the Double Bayou Race and a race to Ving-et-un Island. The Allied Banks Performance Cup Regatta (now known as the Bank Regatta) premiered in 1984. In 1988, GBCA and the Houston Yacht Club combined efforts and resources to jointly sponsor the Galveston Bay Spring and Fall Series.
Specialty races currently sponsored by GBCA now include the Single/Mixed Doubles, Women's Series, Texas Race Week, GBCA Jr., Conundrum, and the Performance Cup Regatta. GBCA also sponsors two more relaxed racing series, the Friday evening TGIF Series, and starting in 1984, the Icicle Series. These last two events are sailed without a race committee using a staggered starting sequence that relies on the honor system. They are excellent races for the beginners to sharpen skills or the regular racer to relax a little.
The 1978 Ladies event was a milestone in that it was the first time an all-female crew participated. Ladies Day was expanded to a weekend series in 1979, and the name was changed to the Women's Series in 1987.
Gulf racing participation began in 1948 when Dr. Walter Lipscomb's Ragamuffin put the name of GBCA on the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce's annual Gulf Race perpetual trophy. This race, which was originated in 1931, was run from 1951 to 1980. In 1950, the first Freeport Race was held and in 1952, the Heald Bank Race was added. With an increase in ocean racing participation, the Sabine Race was added to the schedule.
In order to crown the top ocean-racing skipper, The Texas Ocean Racing Circuit (TORC) was inaugurated in 1963. Over the years, the circuit has changed to some degree. The 1985 season included: The Lipton Cup, Constellation Cup, Bridge Harbor (Freeport) Race, Distance Race, The Gold Cup, Moreland Cup, and the Finale Race. In 1988, the TORC was sponsored by five clubs; Bridge Harbor Yacht Club, Galveston Yacht Club, Houston Yacht Club, Lakewood Yacht Club, and GBCA. Ten offshore racing events were held in 1988, but yachts only had to sail in six of them to qualify for the overall.
Since then, the TORC format has changed in response to the changing preferences of the competitors and the event chairpersons. In 1991, the format was a Race Week which started in Port Aransas and ended in Galveston. That lasted for several years, but was subsequently changed back to a series of distance races. In 1997, the TORC became a charity event for the sailing ship, Elissa.
In 1961, the Aransas Pass to Tampico Race inaugurated our present excursions to Mexico. The race was held from 1961 to 1964. In 1966, David Hatcher was instrumental in starting the present day format for both Veracruz and TORC races. Since 1968, GBCA and the National Tourist Council of Mexico have co-sponsored the Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico Regatta de Amigos Race which is held biannually in even numbered years, until recently under the stewardship of Frank Tuma.
The 1988 Regatta de Amigos marked the end to a record set by Dudley South on Socker in 1984. Ed Bailey won the event for the second time in a row sailing his yacht, Uptown Girl, to a new record time of 83 hours, 14 minutes, and 17 seconds.
An alternate destination for long distance racing is picked for the odd numbered years. The Galveston to Biloxi race was held in odd numbered years from 1965 to 1973. Short-handed ocean racing was added to the schedule in 1972. The single/double handed Galveston to St. Petersburg race was inaugurated in 1974 and was held biannually for several years.
The Club supports sailing activities of all kinds. We encourage "college level" sailing, and sponsored the S.E.I.S.A. Races in 1983, in which 12 schools participated. In 1984, we held the Women's Adams Cup Quarter Finals for the Texas Yachting Association. The Venture Nationals were hosted by GBCA in 1985.
In 1988, GBCA added to their activities for sailboat racers a seminar titled "Introduction to Sailboat Racing." This first seminar was a tremendous success with 86 people in attendance.
GBCA sailors have competed and won honors on both "National" and 'World" levels. In 1976, Ellen Gerloff, Janie Baldridge and Ruthie Maudlin, representing GBCA, won the USYRU Women's Sailing Championship for the Adam's Cup.
Also in 1976, John Kolius, Richard Hoepfner and Walter Glasgo brought home the Olympic Silver Medal in Solings. Marvin Beckman, skipper, with Tom Sinuns and Curt Oeting won the 1978 USYRU men's sailing championship for the Mallory Cup. Skipper Marvin Beckman followed his Mallory Cup victory by claiming for GBCA the 1977-78 National InterClub Match Race Trophy for the Prince of Wales Bowl with crew members Curt Oeting and Mark Matthews.
Gary Ross and Lawrence Maher both placed in the top ten in 1981 Sunfish National and Worlds. In 1982, John Kolius won the J-24 Worlds and was named skipper of Courageous for the 1983 America's Cup Trials. Also, in 1982, Jimmy Holton and Evan Black won second and third place honors in the J-30 Nationals.
The year 1986 provided GBCA with its share of National Honors. Lee Demarest and his crew from Breakaway, as representative of our area, won the USYRU National Offshore Championships, hosted by the Naval Academy. Tom Presswood sailed in the J-22 Nationals, won the J-22 Circuit Regatta, and won the Governors Cup in Austin. Steve Rhyne sailed Thunderbolt to a 3rd place win at the Hobie 33 nationals in New Orleans.
In 1989, the GBCA J-22 team of Dennis Grounds, Gordon Evans, Tom Meeh, and Darcy Evans took a second place in the third Texas Challenge Cup on October 14 and 15. Also in 1989, Darlene Aldridge, Dick Escalera, and the Hotsy Totsy crew, sailed to a third in the USYRU National Offshore Championship.
In 1990, Don Genitempo and Alan Finger won the IN4S Division on Lobo during Key West Race Week. They also won the Audi Quatro Award for the most outstanding yacht.
Frank Tuma won the "Blue Ribbon" in the year 1991 when he represented the "Country of Ecuador" racing 600 miles to and from the Galapagos Islands. Gary Ross and Joel Scott, on board the J-29, Good Company, won the Audi Quatro Award for the most outstanding yacht.
In 1992, the J-24 US Mid-Winter Championship held in Miami, Florida was won by Jay Lutz with crew members Paolo & Denise Sheaffer.
Dave Hinrichsen and his crew on 'Low Rent' finished third at the 1997 J/24 National Championship held in Corpus Christi.
Owen Kratz and crew won the 1999 St. Francis Big Boat Series held in San Francisco on his 1D35, 'Joss'.