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How the “Rocket” was Born

The First Rocket Regatta was dubbed "Southport Port Charlie's Waterway Sunday Sailboat Race Rocket Regatta" was held on April 26, 1992. The informal clubhouse then was Port Charlie's Restaurant. The first sponsor of the Rocket Regatta was Port Charlie's operated by John & Sheila Barbee (John Barbee's, son) was a well known haunt situated just east of the Provision Company on the ICW and a favorite local watering hole. The idea of the two day event came from Mark Tallon ( Member 1 ) and Rick Johnstone to run the race with all of its shoaling and currents in the mighty Cape Fear River. The name of the event, The Rocket which has remained over these 20 or so years has an interesting history as well. The event is not about a summertime fireworks display but named in memory of Miss Roma Clement (previously mistaken as Clemmons). Roma came to Southport shortly after WWII with her son Mo. She was on her way to Florida after having lost her husband in the war. Young Mo fell while climbing on the Pilot's tower and broke his hip. After Mo's recovery Roma never left Southport. Over the years Roma became the default chaperone for high school kids on school trips. She managed to keep a whole generation of Southport's children alive during these years. It's believed that Roma worked for Brunswick County as the state's food stamp administrator. Roma loved to come out in the early evenings for a cocktail and was very well known about town. She was a great and kind lady. Just before the first Rocket Regatta Miss Roma passed away. She was around 82 years old.

Back then, John Barbee though it would be nice to pay tribute to Miss Roma by naming the race after her. He mentioned that he thought her nickname was "Rocket", so Mark and Rick added "Rocket Regatta" to the name. As history would have it, weeks later it was revealed that no one ever called Roma "Rocket", but it was a fitting name and it stuck. Given Roma's popularity combined with Mark and Rick's optimism, the 1992 Rocket was so well received by both sailors and townspeople that support for our yacht club was inevitable and this regatta remains today as a fitting tribute to that great person. Miss Roma (Rocket) Clement. So please come out enjoy and support this annual event.


Cape Fear Yacht Club
4791 Fish Factory Road
Oak Island, NC 28465

Mailing Address:
PO Box 10180
Southport, NC 28461

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