Sails raised for Texoma Lakefest Regatta - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Sails raised for Texoma Lakefest Regatta

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DENISON -- Every year, Pete Nitsche and his family compete in the Texoma Lakefest Regatta, a three day event now underway on Lake Texoma.

"It's basically the largest inland regatta in the United States, so it's a big deal," Nitsche said.

Bagpipes and a blessing by a priest aboard a pirate ship signaled the official start of the regatta.

The traditional "Blessing of the Fleet" is a way to wish crews a safe race as they pass for the first time into the main waterway.

Boaters from as far away as Georgia will come to Grandpappy Point Marina in Denison to compete.

The event is hosted by the Texoma Sailing Club. Nitsche is the Lakefest's chairman.

At least 60 teams will participate. Some will walk away with a trophy and bragging rights but all are helping raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

"We've been doing it for the last 27 years and have been doing it for charity. So the Texoma Lakefest is one of the biggest charity regattas in the United States," Jason Cottingame, general manager of Grandpappy Point Marina, said.

Last year, a check was presented to the Make-a-Wish Foundation for more than $30,000.

It granted wishes for about six north Texas children who are battling life-threatening conditions.

One wanted to meet her favorite singer, Miley Cyrus. Another played football with Peyton Manning.

While organizers say bringing smiles to faces of more children this year is the main goal, Nitsche says he hopes this weekend will also bring another win on the water.

"We're hoping to win. We've won the past four years in our class," Nitsche said.

"These people own quarter million dollar boats and compete for $50 trophies. So it's more than anything for bragging rights and just a lot of fun," Cottingame said.

For a list of the weekend's events, log on to TexomaLakefest.com.

WATCH VIDEO: http://youtu.be/guVoo8d8jj8