Please select your home edition
GJW Direct - Multi Dinghy Insurance

Sperry Charleston Race Week starts today

by Sperry Charleston Race Week 15 Apr 2016 07:43 BST 14-17 April 2016

Windy forecast provides perfect gift For Race Week's 21st Birthday

Nearly 250 Racing Teams ready for extreme conditions

Downtown Charleston residents were treated to the sight of a harbour full of colorful sails on Thursday as a postcard-perfect day ushered in yet another year of Sperry Charleston Race Week. Nearly half the 242 boats entered took the day to practice on the water to get ready for the first gun, while the rest of the fleet finished rigging and deck work, with everyone inspecting their boats thoroughly in anticipation of the big blow coming on Friday.

Event Chairman Randy Draftz says that nature smiled on the fleet for Race Week's 21st birthday. "This is a dream forecast with our strongest group of sponsors, supporters, and competitors ever, and it's fitting that our birthday present is the same thing that made Charleston such a world famous sailing destination: Great wind."

Charleston sailmaker and top pro crew John Bowden says the forecast 20-pus-knot northeasterly could make things 'interesting' for the entire fleet. "We've got a great Melges 24 fleet coming in as the whole country gets ready for the Worlds later this year in Miami, and the weather looks awesome." Bowden says it looks like some of the most exciting racing in years. "Friday will be full-on and maybe a little easier Saturday and Sunday – we should all get in some great sailing."

With three courses in Charleston Harbor and one outside the jetties, Sperry Charleston Race Week welcomes competitive sailors of all skill levels, from the highest ranks of Olympic and America's Cup crews to the newest jib-and-main racer looking to get their toes in the water. Skippers and crews hail from some 27 nations, while boats ranging from 19 feet to 84 feet race in seven mixed/handicap fleets and 11 one-design racing classes.

Terry Hutchinson is one of those America's Cup stars, and he says there are few things better than April on the water in Charleston. "I don't get to come to Charleston every year, but when I do, it starts the whole season off perfectly," said Hutchinson, who races aboard Joel Ronning's Catapult in the 72-boat J/70 fleet. The former Artemis Racing skipper and his team arrived early enough to put in two extra days of practice, which Hutchinson said would be essential for hist team to do well in Charleston. "The competition level in this class is no joke, and this will probably be the biggest J/70 regatta all the way until Worlds in 2016. We could use even more practice, but we're ready to get out there tomorrow and make good things happen."

One of the fastest handicap racing boats in town is the 1D35 Warhorse, and Charleston resident Trey Brown says tomorrow's forecast isn't looking great for his craft. "We're a pretty light race boat and we'll load it up with crew on the rail, but the bigger boats will have a real advantage in the big seas," said Brown. "It's not the winds that bother us, but with waves likely in the 10-foot range, we're certainly going to find the limits."

One class of boat making it's debut here in Charleston is the GP 26, but unlike other one-design classes, these high-performance boats are slightly different from one another, so for the first time at Sperry Charleston Race Week, we'll see accurate, measurement-based handicaps generated by the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC).

Measurements made over the last few days have helped to define their rated speed potential over the courses raced here at Race Week, with Peter D'Arista's (California, Md.) Supra Turbo rating the fastest in the group, and John Stevens's (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) Sprint 6 receiving the most time under handicap. Both the designer of these boats – Jim Donovan from Hawaii – and the builder of four of them - Serhad Ciftci from Istanbul – are on hand for the racing.

"These GP 26's are fantastic, really fast and fun to sail, and we're very excited to have everyone here together and ready to race," says Mike Beasley (Annapolis, MD), helmsman on Ciftci's Rattle N Rum. "Its great to have the ORC tools available to recognize our small differences in set-up, but over an average course length the differences will be small and I'm sure it will be tight racing."

One of the newest innovations at the event will be live boat tracking in real time, courtesy of German software leader SAP and US Sailing. Many of the boats in the fleet have opted to participate, so their track information will be visible on the event's website while racing is going on.

Related Articles

Sperry Charleston Race Week overall
An interesting dynamic on the docks on the final day There was an interesting dynamic taking place on the docks of Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina Sunday morning. Posted on 17 Apr
Sperry Charleston Race Week Family Sailing Feature
Family dynamic become a hallmark of the regatta If there has been one constant about Sperry Charleston Race Week over the years it's the family dynamic that has become a hallmark of the regatta. Posted on 16 Apr
The volunteers who make it possible
Those who help run Sperry Charleston Race Week How do you run a regatta with a whopping 246 boats in 16 classes? It requires flawless organization, and a ton of manpower. Those two factors go hand in hand. Posted on 15 Apr
Sperry Charleston Race Week day 2
All-important Saturday as forecast brings concern for the final day Forecasts call for a front to move through town and there is no way to predict how much racing will be completed on the final day. As the skies darkened over Charleston Harbor on Saturday evening, the leaders had to feel good about their position. Posted on 15 Apr
Sperry Charleston Race Week day 1
Excellent first day of racing on Charleston harbor J/24 skipper Tony Parker called it "champagne conditions" and it would be hard to argue with that assessment. Posted on 14 Apr
Sperry Charleston Race Week preview
Gearing up for another exciting edition Cedric Lewis had never competed in Sperry Charleston Race Week before last year. The Annapolis resident always heard great things about the regatta and therefore jumped at the chance to crew for John Potter in the VX One class. Posted on 5 Apr
Sperry Charleston Race Week overall
New champions crowned after a tricky finale Charleston is known for its reliable spring sea breeze, but the Holy City's coast outdid itself this year during the 22nd edition of Sperry Charleston Race Week. Posted on 24 Apr 2017
Sperry Charleston Race Week day 2
Wild day with big wind and big waves For a second straight day, Charleston Harbor and the open ocean just offshore provided near-perfect conditions for over 200 competing teams at Sperry Charleston Race Week 2017. Posted on 23 Apr 2017
Sperry Charleston Race Week day 1
A tale of two mornings for more than 200 boats It was a tale of two mornings for the more than 200 boats taking to the water today for the opening day of 2017 Sperry Charleston Race Week. Posted on 22 Apr 2017
Competitors and sponsors alike psyched
For Sperry Charleston Race Week Sperry Charleston Race Week 2017 will start Friday morning, and everyone – from competitors, to VIPS and sponsors to fans and locals – is pumped that there's a perfect spring forecast for the 22nd edition. Posted on 21 Apr 2017