They don’t call Houston the “Bayou City” for nothing. The city’s several waterways spider web their way through the city, providing not just a natural habitat for the area’s flora and fauna but also a rich identity for the unique attributes of the area.
The undeniable queen of all bayous, though, is Buffalo Bayou. Thus, it makes sense that Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s 45th annual regatta, sponsored by Gillman Subaru, serves as the perfect way to raise money to preserve our city’s namesake and help enhance its beauty while also providing for a wild and wet time.
“Lots of cities have different amenities. [Houston’s] amenity is our bayous. We consider Buffalo Bayou to be the mother of all bayous. It’s nice this race can be part of enjoying this historic waterway,” says Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s director of PR and events, Trudi Smith.
The regatta, one of the five largest events of its kind in the country, takes place on Saturday, March 11, starting at 7700 San Felipe just west of Voss.
Registration is at 7:30 a.m., with five different start times:
9 a.m. ICF K-1/Surf Skis and Solo Unlimited (optional in-water start)
9:10 a.m. All Corporate Cups and All Recreational Class Canoes
9:20 a.m. All Recreational Solo Kayaks (long and short; optional in-water start)
9:30 a.m. All Unlimited (optional in-water start
9:40 a.m. Day-of Registrants (will not be included in official timekeeping)
With more than 900 teams expected to participate, the event promises to be a thrill ride for both participants and onlookers.
“This is a great experience, because you get to see Houston from a completely different perspective: water level. It’s narrow, shallow and very lush,” said Smith.
The race will travel along 15 miles of Houston’s beautiful bayou. Expect to see turtles, fish, birds and other wildlife.
Those not wanting to paddle can cheer on racers along the race route or catch the outdoor fun at the finish-line festivities at Sesquicentennial Park (500 block of Preston). Also included in the shindig are live zydeco music, a rock climbing wall, and food and drinks for sale.
At 1 p.m., trophies will be awarded to the top three paddlers in Teams, Recreational Canoe, Recreational Kayak and Unlimited Divisions. A grand prize will be given to one of the more recent awards to join the list: the Styrofoam Cup winner, awarded to the boat that collects the most trash.
Smith said it’s a coveted award and brings a significant meaning to the city.
“Cleaning the bayou is an ongoing project. Anytime it rains, you’ll see lots of floatable trash in the bayou, and so it’s a good way to educate the public about respecting our waterway so that it doesn’t float down to the ocean, and it helps make a cleaner city.”
Conveniently, the organization has provided for The Wave to transport participants back to the starting line for free to pick up their automobiles from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The shuttle will carry people only, which means those towing boats need to make other accommodations.
Smith says this regatta supports Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s ongoing efforts to transform the bayou and make it accessible to the public and balance out the nature and wildlife with a place for Houstonians to enjoy.
“That’s our goal, to focus on the recreational amenities of Buffalo Bayou. You can bike, jog, walk, picnic, bring your dog, play Frisbee, fly a kite, kayak or canoe. We offer a number of opportunities to showcase this amenity, and one is this regatta.”
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Buffalo Bayou Partnership recently completed the $58 million Buffalo Bayou Park project, which includes major destinations, natural landscaping, footpaths, trail lighting, water features and pedestrian bridges.
The group also organizes free walking tours of Buffalo Bayou Park, pontoon boat rides and bat tours, and runs an affinity group called Bayou Buddies, which hosts its own events throughout the year.
Registration for the regatta costs $25 to $60 per person. Registration closes on March 9 at 11:59 p.m. Participants can still register on March 11 and receive all benefits of Regatta participants, but they will not be included in the official timekeeping of the race, nor be eligible for awards, and will start five minutes after the last start of the race.
For an official look at Buffalo Bayou Partnership's 45 annual regatta's rules or to register, visit the Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s web page.