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Swampscott to host Wazsp Championship Regatta

Hunter Hoy, of Quebec, prepares his WASZP sailboat for a practice session off of Fisherman's Beach in Swampscott ahead of the 2023 WASZP North American Championship Regatta. (Spenser Hasak)

SWAMPSCOTT — Sailors from across the continent gathered near Fisherman’s Beach this week in preparation for the 2023 Waszp North American Championship Regatta, which will start Thursday and continue until Sunday.

On a grass strip outside the Swampscott Yacht Club, competitive sailors adjusted and tuned their Waszp boats — 3.4-meter monohull boats capable of traveling at speeds of up to 24 knots (27.5 mph) while hydrofoiling, a term for skipping across the water’s surface.

“It’s pretty cool. Sailors come from all over, they’ve come from the west coast of Canada and all over the U.S. There are a number of sailors from Hawaii here. Today is mostly just getting the boats all set up and getting ready. Tomorrow, we’ll go out to do some practice,” Waszp USA North American Search Committee Chair Zaak Beekman said Monday.

26 different sailors will compete in a series of two-lap races on a course spanning Nahant Bay and Swampscott Harbor. Each race is expected to last roughly 20 minutes.

“It’s a high-speed, high-action affair,” Beekman said. “If we’re lucky, we’ll get four or five races each day. But, it’s very wind-dependent and if there’s not enough wind, we won’t go out and just bob around.”

Beekman said he was grateful to SYC for being “wonderful hosts,” and also expressed his gratitude to Marblehead’s Eastern Yacht Club, which partnered with SYC and the North American Championship Regatta to help manage the races.

In a February interview, SYC Board member Charlotte Daher de Garcia said the yacht club was “really excited to be hosting something that goes beyond Swampscott.” He said the beauty, wind conditions, and temperatures at Nahant Bay make it a prime location both for sailors and spectators.

“Usually in Swampscott the winds tend to pick up in the early afternoon,” Daher de Garcia said. “It’s a little bit different of a place than others, but what is nice about it is because of the shape of it, just because it’s sort of secluded, it does have really nice offshore winds. And in August the water is a little bit warmer too, which is really nice, obviously, for the sailors.”

One of the competing sailors, 22-year-old Pearl Lattanzi, of Newport, has been sailing for 10 years. She said since the Waszp class of boats became available in 2016, the new boat type has grown significantly in popularity.

“I’m pretty excited to see how many new people are in the [Waszp] class. It’s growing pretty quickly in the U.S. right now,” Lattanzi said.

Another competing sailor, 16-year-old Jaxon Hottinger, of Hawaii, was working on his boat, The Panda, Monday morning. He said he has sailed for four years.

“Hopefully we get some wind. It’s really intense racing, so it should be a good time,” Hottinger said.

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