Please select your home edition
Edition
Lennon Thermalite 728x90 2
Product Feature
Zhik Microfleece X lightweight, stretch wetsuits
Zhik Microfleece X lightweight, stretch wetsuits

Competitors and sponsors alike psyched for Sperry Charleston Race Week

by Dan Dickison 21 Apr 2017 07:26 BST 20-23 April 2017
Vincenzo Onorato's J/70 Mascalzone Latino (73) is the lone Italian entry at Sperry Charleston Race Week © Charleston Race Week / Tim Wilkes

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 of the biggest multiclass keelboat regatta in the Americas. With three days of 80+ degree weather, no rain, and reliable southerly breeze on tap for 16 classes of race boats, the cream should rise to the top when Sunday's winners are announced.

If today's practice races are any indication, the competition should be just as hot as the temperature; over 100 of the 212 registered teams spent the day practicing starts and maneuvers on Charleston Harbor, with over sixty J/70s practice-racing for hours. While Charleston is known for its serious parties, there's little question that the racing is equally serious – at least for the top contenders here.

One of those top contenders is the reigning world champion in the biggest and toughest fleet in town, the J/70. Joel Ronning's Catapult won a hard-fought battle to triumph over the world's best last year in San Francisco, and he's in Charleston with a crack crew to continue his dominance. Catapult tactician and National Sailing Hall of Famer John Kostecki may have only been to Charleston once before, but his ties to the city run deep.

"Charleston may very well have been responsible for our success aboard Ilbruck in the 2000 Volvo Ocean Race," said Kostecki, who spent some four months here with his crew training before winning that edition of the famed race around the world. Kostecki also owns an Olympic medal and an America's Cup win – the only sailor in the world to accomplish sailing's "Grand Slam." He said he remembers his time here fondly, but nothing he learned then will be useful to him this week.

"Unfortunately all our training back then was offshore, so I've got a lot of catching up to do inside the harbour," Kostecki said. With a fleet that includes long-time America's Cup team owner and Farr 40 World Champion Vincenzo Onorato (Mascalzone Latino), teen phenom and past National Champ Gannon Troutman (Pied Piper), and past Charleston winner and sportboat standout Marty Kullman (New Wave) on the most congested part of the tricky harbour, Kostecki has his work cut out for him.

While Catapult and the J/70 boys are girding for an all-out war, the crew of the TP52 Gladiator has slightly different reasons for competing in Sperry Charleston Race Week. While British owner Tony Langley campaigns his TP52s at the very highest level of the TP52 SuperSeries, he's brought his 'B' boat to town to fulfill a longtime wish to sail in one of America's ultimate sailing cities along with his family, friends and two British war veterans. Son Bernard (24) will take the helm from dad this week, while daughter Charlotte and son Will will serve as crew along with Tony.

Instead of the kind of all-pro team usually aboard Gladiator, Langley's crew for Charleston includes Afghanistan combat veterans Pete Dahl and Luke Mason, both of whom sailed with the UK-based Toe in the Water program, a charity set up in 2008 and sponsored by the Langley Foundation to help traumatized and injured service personnel through competitive sailing. They won't be without at least some professional help this week. Morgan Trubovich is known as one of the world's best sail trimmers, and the five-time America's Cup veteran is excited to sail his first Charleston Race Week event.

"We'll be glad to race against some good teams in the ORC A fleet," said Trubovich, "but this place is so welcoming that we already feel like we've won." Like Kostecki, he's only seen the harbour from a much bigger boat. "We screamed into the harbour aboard [100' super-maxi] Comanche after a training run two years ago, and I'll never forget how pretty it was," he said.

It's not just the sailors getting psyched for the 22nd edition; Sponsors are gratified to see the spring's marquee event going strong for another year.

"Quantum is thrilled to once again be a sponsor of Sperry Charleston Race Week," said Ed Reynolds, President of the Michigan-based Quantum Sails. "And we're looking forward to a great event. It is a great opportunity for us to showcase our abilities and commitment to enhancing the regatta experience for all the participants."

Reynolds' outlook was echoed by Malcolm Gosling, the President and CEO of Gosling-Castle Partners, Inc., the purveyors of fine rum from Bermuda. "We are proud to sponsor Charleston Race Week. This our 12th year as a partner to this wonderful event. We have a deep heritage and have been involved in major sailing events for a long time, going back to the 1800s."

Sperry Charleston Race Week is now in its 22nd year. This regatta attracts sailors from all across the U.S. and around the world. This year, sailors from 24 U.S. states and nine foreign countries have registered to compete. Among them are the skippers of 76 J/70s, which represents one of the largest gatherings for this one-design class.

Stories abound throughout the fleets during Sperry Charleston Race Week, which runs from Thursday, April 20 through Sunday, April 23. Nearly 220 boats have registered to compete. Follow the event on its website and on its social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube).

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 2018
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 2018
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 2018
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 2018
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 2018
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 2018
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
Pro-Am Competition highlight
At Sperry Charleston Race Week Sperry Charleston Race Week has been America's biggest keelboat regatta for some time. While the racers love the competition and parties that come with a 'supersized' regatta like this, it's the quality that motivates those who come back year after year. Posted on 20 Apr 2017