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2022 Charleston Race Week - Day 2

by Bill Wagner 1 May 2022 04:50 BST April 28 - May 1, 2022
2022 Charleston Race Week day 2 © Matthew Gallagher

Competitors at Charleston Race Week encountered winds that started fairly light in the morning then steadily built to the low teens. What made Friday's racing particularly challenging were the significant shifts that, in combination with the always powerful current, kept skippers and tacticians on their toes.

J/70 Class - "It's crazy, but exciting because you don't have any knowledge of what's going to happen next. Things are changing every minute," said veteran professional sailor Morgan Reeser, who has encountered these types of conditions at Charleston Race Week before.

Reeser is serving as tactician for skipper Bruno Pasquinelli aboard Stampede, along with headsail trimmer Matt Woodworth and bowman Max Skelley. The team adjusted well enough to win two of the four races completed today, and take over the lead in the J/70 Class. Pasquinelli also posted a third and was able to throw out a 29th suffered in the first race of the regatta and now leads the 48-boat fleet with 28 points. That is 10 better than Day 1 leader Yonder, skippered by Doug Newhouse with Jeremy Wilmot calling tactics.

Reeser said there were some 30-degree shifts and those tended to take place upon approach to the windward mark, which was positioned close to a copse of trees off James Island. "We had a wonderful day, even though it was stressful at times," Reeser said. "On a day like this, it's more about sailing the course instead of the fleet. You've got to sail your own race the whole time because there is so much happening."

VX One Class - Chris Alexander and his crew on Counterproductive also survived the day, winning Race 8 after opening Friday with a second. The Gulfport Yacht Club member finished sixth in the other two races and was able to discard a 38 that was the result of a U Flag penalty.

"It was a very challenging day and really hard to be consistent because it was so shifty," Alexander said. "To be honest, it was a really scary day. You never felt comfortable because the wind giveth and the wind taketh away. There were times when you could sail smart and still have bad things happen." Alexander believes his boat has the best upwind speed and has been able to work its way to the front of the fleet even when getting a subpar start. "What we did well was finding lanes on the first windward leg just by getting in phase with the breeze," he said.

Madeline Gill and Ricky Welch are crewing on Counterproductive, which enters Sunday with a seven-point lead on defending champion Doug Clark. College of Charleston assistant sailing coach and Rolex Yachtsman of the Year nominee Connor Blouin holds third, just one point behind Clark. This will be the third straight Charleston Race Week when Alexander has held the lead going into the final day and he wound up placing second all three times. "I'm ready to execute correctly this year," Alexander said. "We just need to sail smart and conservative tomorrow."

J/24 Class - Marcus Rogers continues to lead J/24 Class following a phenomenal opening day in which he led Wild Monkey to victory in all four races. Rogers counted results of 2-1-3 on Friday, throwing out a fourth from the seventh race. Carter White is driving while Evan Headley-Jones is calling tactics on Wild Monkey, which has built a seven-point lead on Ice Cube (Michael Quaid). Chris Lombard (trimmer) and Molly White (foredeck) complete the crew. "We're just communicating very, very well - probably the best I've ever seen," said Rogers, an Indianapolis resident competing at Charleston Race Week for the first time.

Rogers, who has been racing J/24's for about a decade and serves on the Class Executive Committee, said Wild Monkey needs to regain the form it showed Thursday. "We need to figure out the current better than we did today. We were picking the wrong side of the course way too much," he said. "We need to do a better job of executing the plan tomorrow if we hope to win this thing."

J/105 Class - Rob Marsh was another skipper not feeling all that great Friday evening despite leading his class. Being able to drop an eighth from Friday's opening race enabled Blowbout to maintain a four-point lead in the J/105 Class. Marsh, who owns a boat dealership and storage facility on Maryland's Eastern Shore, is making his Charleston Race Week debut. He is sailing with lifelong friends - all aged 62 to 68 - from North Shrewsbury Ice and Boat Club in Red Bank, New Jersey.

"Some local knowledge would have been helpful today, that's for sure," Marsh said. "Seriously, we're just making less mistakes than everyone else. Hopefully, that continues. We have two races tomorrow to screw it up."

RS21 Class - Ryan Walsh and his crew from North Bedford Yacht Club in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts continues to lead the RS21 Class, which features 10 chartered boats. Joey Mello (headsail trimmer) and Ike Babbitt (main trimmer, tactician) are crewing for Walsh, who discarded a third and now counts all first and second place results.

"We're doing a great job of shifting gears during the puffs and lulls. That has probably been the biggest difference. Today we did a lot of tacking on the shifts," said Walsh, an eight-time veteran of Charleston Race week about multiple platforms. "We're not the fastest boat out there, but we've been doing real well going around the corners."

Melges 24 Class - Travis Weisleder and his Lucky Dog team remain on track for a third straight Charleston Race Week win in the Melges 24 Class. The Richmond, Virginia skipper has gotten the gun in six of eight races and now boasts a low score of nine points. Harry Melges IV posted a pair of bullets and a couple seconds Friday and is five points back after tossing an eighth. The 2021 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year can take encouragement from the fact Lucky Dog suffered a fifth in the final race Friday.

J/88 Class - It's tight atop the J/88 standings with Dutch maintaining the lead but by only a point over Deviation. Class veteran Iris Vogel closed out Friday's racing with three consecutive second place results and now trails the Chicago Yacht Club entry, 19 to 18. Exile, another Chicago boat skippered Andy Graff, is third with 22 points. "We had a lot of energy today and did a good job of changing gears," said Graff, who was runner-up to Dutch at Charleston Race Week in 2021. "We have some points to make up, but this is a large, competitive fleet in which every boat has a bad race or two."

ORC D Class - Mike Beasley is a four-time champion at Charleston Race Week and has twice earned the prestigious Palmetto Trophy. However, the Annapolis resident said he would be happy to wind up on the podium Sunday evening as he currently stands third by tiebreaker in ORC D.

Kevin McNeil and his crack crew on Seabiscuit are running away with the sport boat class, counting all first-place results, totaling seven points. Fearless, a Melges 32 skippered by Carolina Yacht Club member John Lucas, is a distant second with 18 points. Meanwhile, Beasley and his Rattle n Rum team are battling the Melges 32 Guillotine for third. "Give full credit to Kevin and his team. They are sailing very, very well," Beasley said. "The Farr 30 is an ideal design for inshore, windward-leeward racing. It can go directly upwind and directly downwind."

Pursuit A, B, & Non-Spinnaker Classes - Soul, a J/36 skippered by College of Charleston senior Emily Potter, leads the Pursuit A Class after placing second in Friday's 17-nautical mile race into the Atlantic Ocean. Cheers (Tom Mackin) is still atop Pursuit B despite completing a 15-mile course on Friday. Meanwhile, skipper Hunter Weekes steered Retox to victory for the second straight day in the Pursuit Non-Spinnaker Class.

ORC B - Polly Esther, an XP-44 owned by Charleston resident David Poston, increased his lead in ORC B with a strong performance in Friday's 19-mile race. Polly Esther picked up a pair of bullets by reaching the scoring gate and crossing the finish line in first place.

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