3 people dressed in winter clothing on front of boat on Lake Lanier during the Hot Ruddered Bum Sailing regatta.

Each winter brings another edition of the Hot Ruddered Bum sailing regatta on Lake Lanier. Here, Susan Reddaway and Margaret Sherrod along with Dale Owens conduct the winter tradition that began in the 1970s.

The University Yacht Club’s winter tradition continues …

Sailors on Lake Lanier swear by winter sailing, whether they’re taking part in organized racing or just getting out on the water. With lower temperatures and more wind, the die-hards often take to the lake when other boaters are indoors by a warm fire.

That’s part of the reason that University Yacht Club started its signature “Hot Ruddered Bum” lake-wide sailing regatta back in the mid-1970s.

According to recollections from various long-time club members, the first of these regattas began in the mid-1970s.

Member Terry Ellis, who joined UYC in 1977, recalled participating in several lake-wide races even before he joined the club. One of them was the February Hot Ruddered Bum.

“I remember showing up at UYC’s new clubhouse for breakfast coffee, juice, rolls and fruit,” he said. “A warm fire was welcoming as we chatted about the weather and the one-day regatta course. Typically by noon the sun was bright even though the temperature was in the 40s at 1 p.m. start time.

“I wore long underwear, double socks and a whole face mask plus waterproof insulated jacket and warm gloves. I left the final layers off while rigging the boat to push off. Otherwise, I’d be sweating too much.

“Usually the wind was a steady 5-15 max, flat water and no rain. The usual westerly wind was perfect for a (challenging) course with the temperatures even reaching the 50s,” he said.

In those early days, he said that there would be about 20 boats from all the clubs. Once the race was over, sailors secured their boats and gathered at the UYC clubhouse.

“The warm fire and rum at the clubhouse was inviting,” he said. “Soon members of other clubs would join us for trophy presentation and to kick off the new year’s racing season.”

The sailing community’s racing season began to grow with other annual regattas: The Dogwood in April hosted by Atlanta Inland Sailing Club, Lake Lanier Sailing Club’s July Firecracker and its late October Halloween Regatta, Barefoot Sailing Club’s Barefoot early October Barefoot Open and Atlanta Inland Sailing Club’s November 1064, a tip of the hat to the lower lake levels of winter pool.

Eventually, the 1064 came under the auspices of Lake Lanier Sailing Club and UYC created the lake-wide sailing championship, its invitational Lanier Cup, which still takes place. Each club sends its four best racers to compete in the day-long event that usually features a brunch or after-race supper for these elite Lake Lanier sailors.

Over the years, racing involvement waned, but by the early 2000s, in part due to multiple clubs competing for the same pool of sailors and events being scheduled simultaneously. Many regattas and races still took place, but along the way, some events nearly dropped off the radar, including the Hot Ruddered Bum.

In 2001-02, several sailors began work to create the Lanier Auxiliary Racing Committee – LARC – to help manage scheduling and encourage more boats in fewer races to stimulate competition. Soon all the clubs were working together to support more participation in sailing events on the water.

UYC member Robin Terrell was appointed sail fleet captain in 2003, about the time that LARC took over lake-wide scheduling. “Phil Eastman was chair and Pam Keene was coordinator of LARC and at an after-race party at UYC for one of the first new LARC races, Pam and Edith (Collins), then both active in BFSC, cornered me and asked if I’d consider resurrecting the Hot Ruddered Bum, which had lapsed for some years,” Terrell said. “I was keen to rebuild the club’s racing profile on the lake and saw the Hot Ruddered Bum as a great opportunity to do that. I asked Edith to be the race official and we had a great event. The regatta has run ever since.”

Around the same time, UYC Past Commodore Phil Eastman suggested creating the UYC Maritime Foundation to promote boating, marine education and boating safety. One of the group’s first projects was reviving the Hot Ruddered Bum in partnership with UYC’s sail fleet.

“Sam Barazzone was commodore then and he was very supportive of establishing the non-profit UYC Maritime Foundation,” Eastman said. “Between these two new organizations and the support from Robin and the UYC Sail fleet, we were well on our way to rebuilding the Hot Ruddered Bum.

“It also didn’t hurt that many of us sailors needed a racing ‘fix’ in the winter months,” Eastman said. “Why let all that good wind go to waste?”

Since that time, the Hot Ruddered Bum, now hosted by the UYC Maritime Foundation has taken place in early February.

This year’s Hot Ruddered Bum Regatta takes place on Saturday, February 4. It is sponsored by the UYC Maritime Foundation.

Sailors shared stories of sunny and warm race weather and a few near-blizzards over the past 20 years, but one thing is certain: The Hot Ruddered Bum is among the longest-running regattas on Lake Lanier.

Author’s Note: Apologies for any serious errors, mis-statements or omissions. The information in this article is the product of long-time sailors’ memories, and some “facts” presented here may be the most current version of urban legend on Lake Lanier.

Feature photo in slider: A scene from a recent Hot Ruddered Bum sailing regatta held on Lake Lanier. Photo by Dale Owens