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Anchors Aweigh

Locals are invited to hit the water

After sailing around the world, the Blockade Runner Beach Resort’s Captain MATTY ROBERTS returned to Wrightsville Beach to share his sport with both experienced and aspiring sailors.“This is a sailing mecca,” Roberts says.

Since May, the resort has organized weekly regattas each Thursday night. The horn blows at 6:15 p.m., and everyone is invited to take part in the fun. The races run in tangent with the yacht club’s race day. Although they don’t officially compete, they are all out there together for a sight to behold.

Roberts doesn’t want the language and the lingo of sailing to intimidate people. He invites everyone to take advantage of the accredited American Sailing Association (ASA) classes and their fleet of sailboats to share his passion for the sport.

Tiered sailing classes include a one hour Try Sailing class, available for interested sailors of all ages. This introduction class gives participants the opportunity to learn “as much or as little as you’d like. It is just an experience, just to get the exposure to see if this is something you would be interested in pursuing,” Roberts says.

The next progression is a four-hour Discover Sailing class that includes an hour-long classroom theoretical lesson, followed by a three-hour sailing session that counts towards the ASA certification.

Sailing students learn on the hotel’s fleet of J/22s, which Roberts says “are perfect to learn on.”

Learning in a group environment is also helpful, according to Roberts, because “you see what others do wrong and to avoid making mistakes of others; you gain something by seeing somebody else do it.”

Classes are held every day and are dedicated to providing students with the opportunity to build confidence and learn how to skipper larger boats.

“ASA 101 is designed to make someone a responsible and prudent skipper of a boat up to 22 feet. The end goal is to competently handle a sailboat after the course,” Roberts says. “In the more advanced ASA 103, a sailor learns more advanced systems on a larger type of boat, including engine components and docking. Once you complete the course, you achieve mastery (and) you are qualified to skipper a boat up to 30-40 feet.

“Sailing, like surfing, is a lifestyle sport. People can come and see if it’s actually right for you, right down the street in your own backyard,” Roberts adds.

Being a tourist in your own town has never been easier at Wrightsville Beach, with an activity available daily.

In addition to sailing, the Blockade Runner invites locals to enjoy kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding on Banks Channel alongside hotel guests, with the luxury of sleeping in your own bed afterward.

Eco-tours, surfing lessons, and yoga are all weekly hotel events that locals are encouraged to join in on the fun. Sound side instructors SIERRA COOMER (below) and KRISTEN YOUNG (main photo) say the knowledge and instruction given on the eco-tours are special for area residents.

“The two-hour eco-tour gives locals an opportunity to experience Banks Channel and see turtles migrating and bottlenose dolphins,” Coomer says.

“This gives locals a chance to get out here and be more familiar with our wildlife and with a layer of security and instruction, as opposed to just going out by yourself,” Young adds.

Yogis can try their hand at SUP yoga on Tuesday and Thursday evenings with Longwave Yoga. And, for those who are more comfortable on land, Seaside Yoga is offered on Saturdays and Sundays on the hotel’s lawn.

One of the hotel’s goals for the local- friendly classes and event offerings is to immerse their guests in the flavor of the community, and none do that as well as the Wednesday Sunset Paddle meetups. All types of paddle craft are welcome including SUP, OC-1, OC-2, OC-6, prone, surf ski, and kayaks. Rentals are available.

“Wilmington is a dedicated tourist attraction, and we want to encourage and embrace interaction between guests and locals,” Roberts says. “The paddle group really allows guests to see what Wilmington has to offer since the local people are a great asset, and we want our guests to make new friends and have a positive experience.”


To view more of photographer T.J. Drechsel’s work, go to tjdrechselphotography.com.

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