Texas Living

Set Sail at the Buffalo Bay Regatta

By Matt Becher 3.11.13

Take to the riverbanks and rediscover Houston’s environmental beauty through natural and urban scenery, public art, and celebratory events during Buffalo Bayou’s 41st annual Regatta. The 15-mile race along the eastern area of the bayou attracts competitors, leisure paddlers, and riverside spectators for a celebration of outdoor fun and celebration, with the race culminating in an awards ceremony, Zydeco music, and outdoor activities. With last year’s race cancelled due to flooding, we certainly won’t be missing out this time around.

Texas’ largest canoe/kayak race, the Buffalo Bayou Regatta used to be nothing more than the butt of a few jokes. Through a major effort between leaders of the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, and an EPA mandate driving cleanup of Houston’s sewer system, the former “Reeking Regatta” has come a long way. With events taking place on March 16, right now is the perfect time to get better reacquainted with the restored waterfront.

The payoff from those efforts has already significantly reshaped the area; those around for the Regatta can also enjoy the Buffalo Bayou Art Park, a constantly rotating feature of public art, and the Buffalo Bayou Promenade, linking the waterfront areas to the Central Business District and the Arts and Entertainment District. The goal is to restore the bayou itself and local perception about the roles of the waterway, which holds incredible potential as a scenic attraction and point of cultural history.

2013’s race stretches from San Felipe to a finish line in Sesquicentennial Park, and participants 12 and up from all skill levels are invited to enter the race, with trophies awarded in multiple divisions. There’s even a “Styrofoam Cup” for the eco-friendly racer that collects the most trash during the race. Registration requires a fee, but discounts are available, and there’s no cost to relax by the river and enjoy all the festivities.

Looking to go further, and become a part of the Bayou’s restoration? Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Green Team is always looking for volunteers. Race-day registration opens at 7:30 am, and the race kicks off promptly at 9, so come early to get the best seats on the bank.