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2023 Charleston Race Week - Overall

by Charleston Race Week 23 Apr 2023 23:58 BST 20-23 April 2023

At the end of the day, a regatta is all about the breeze and when the wind generously gave its all for the last race of Charleston Race Week 2023, it brought smiles to many faces and success across all fifteen fleets racing. Weather guru Shea Gibson, assisting Quantum with weather forecasting this week, commented, "The wind cooperated a couple of knots better than most modeled data. I had a good feeling about the small surge to get us towards the 10-knot mark as winds veered, so I was glad that verified. The current also cooperated by slowing down a bit over half a knot as well. All-in-all a pretty good finish for a great event."

PRO Taran Teague commented, "We had some weather challenges, we were lucky to get four races in on Day 1, we had an incredible front come in on Day 2 which was beautiful to watch and we managed to get two races off, then on the final day we started an hour early so all classes got their full complement of racing in. It's been another great Charleston Race Week!"

One of the larger fleets racing this year was the VX One. With twenty-nine boats, after ten races sailed, first place went to John Porter (Savannah, GA). Porter has sailed his whole life in the low country and his local knowledge shone through this week with a whopping twenty-five-point lead over second place. He said, "We've been working on the boat hard this past year to get it ready and it was great to go racing, the competition was great as always, and Charleston never fails to disappoint! It's been fantastic getting my old buddies back in the boat with me including Dave Himmell who I sailed with last at the 1992 trials in the Finn."

Mike Quaid (Williston, VT) racing on the J/24 Ice Cube took first in class with sixteen points, a tidy 12-point lead over second place team Alexandria 4. "It was great and we are very happy to have won the regatta," Quaid said. "We started each day with a plan based on what the current was doing which was an important part of racing Circle One at the confluence of the two rivers - we weren't always right but we would learn soon enough and adapt and we always at least started with a plan and that was critical today and the whole regatta."

"It was fun, it was nuts," Doug McKeige (Mamaroneck, NY), who helmed his crew to a one-point lead in RS21 over Nilah Miller and her crew from Clemson University. McKeige laughed hard before continuing, "We literally traded off winning races one after the other with Nilah and we pushed leads inside of races multiple times. She was great. They went fast in the light stuff and when the breeze filled in this afternoon, we put the hammer down and had our way. Using the Vakaros start line tool was ridiculous - it tells you how many feet you are away from the line and it told us we were over, we got an over early and we couldn't argue whether we were over or not, it was very accurate, it really works! We've had a great time; awesome sailing and we'll be back next year."

In the Inshore PHRF J/22 division, Allegra, the Morris M-42 skippered by Gary Vogel (New Canaan, CT) took first place with 11.5 points, just beating out the Clemson J/22 #1 team who scored twelve points.

The tightest racing of the regatta and today, possibly the most exciting race of the regatta was in the J/88 fleet, where three boats finished the race with seventeen points. The winner was Albondigas skippered by Justin Scagnelli (New Rochelle, NY) whose crew worked so hard to win the final race taking the overall win in class. In second was Exile, skippered by Andy Graff (Chicago, IL), and in third, Deviation skippered by Iris Vogel (New Rochelle, NY). Albondigas was also awarded The City of Charleston Trophy.

"We set out to win the regatta for our former co-owner Tim Price who we tragically lost in February - this regatta was for him," Scagnelli said. "We were up four points going into the day, we did not get a good start in the first race, we clawed back and fought real hard in the second race to tie it all up. We didn't think about the points, we rounded the last mark of the last race in third and we took them all downwind. It was just unbelievable racing. I've been doing this race every year since 2019 and I've been trying to win, and to win for Tim this year has been fantastic."

George Massoon (Taylors, SC) owner/driver of the J/105 Temeraire, took first in class and commented, "It was a lot of hard work, I really have to thank my crew, we never gave up, we just kept on grinding away. It was a fantastic venue, the race committee and everybody did a great job but I really can't say enough about my crew. It was challenging, the tide was on, the tide was off, we had a great time. Sailing in close fleets like the 105 is all about mistakes and not making them, or not making as many as the other folks. I have to say that was our edge this week. We made no major mistakes, no bad roundings, we were consistent. We only won one race yet we were in the running - consistency!"

Jonathan Bamberger (Ontario, Canada) drove his Melges 32 Spitfire one thousand miles to make his first Charleston Race week and he's ready to do it again, especially after taking first in class with a three-point lead over Fearless sailed by Charleston local John Lucas. "It was great, it is an incredible venue and the race committee, well I don't know how they did the job they did so well, with the tides, the currents and the windshifts, they did a wonderful job setting up," Bamberger said. "We sailed nine races and we're exhausted and thirsty but we'll be back again, it was great!"

Sailing on Spitfire was Scott Nixon with Quantum Sails, who commented, "I couldn't be prouder of Jonathan and his team for embracing the challenge and coming out on top. Racing came down to the last day and the Spitfire was super-fast with their new Quantum class upwind sails! It was really challenging to beat the local team on Fearless!"

This was the National Championship for the Hobie 33 fleet, which was easily won by Hoof Heated, owned by Craig and Deborah Wilusz (Fort Walton, FL), with all bullets. Second place went to Hi Tech, skippered by Scott Maust (Pigeon, MI), and in third was Bruce Huddleston (Sylvania, OH) on Bandit. "Our crew performed exceptionally well, with lots of hiking throughout the series," Craig Wilusz said. "Today there was a lot of changing gear with sail set up and rig set up between races. It was a real pleasure for me and my wife to be able to sail with this crew."

ORC D Sport Boat fleet was won by the Cape 31 Sitella owned and helmed by Ian Hill (Virginia Beach, VA), with a solid lead of eight points over second place Sailing Inc, also a Cape 31 skippered by Ryan Ruhlman.

Skippering Travis Weisleder's Melges 24 this week, Laura Grondin (West Hartford, CT) made good on her promise to keep Lucky Dog/Dark Energy's winning streak alive. Grondin, a two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year nominee, skippered Lucky Dog/Dark Energy to a fourth consecutive Charleston Race week win finishing with eleven points, eight points ahead of second place Zingara helmed by Richard Reid (Ontario, Canada).

"Travis and I are competitors, but also friends and coming here this week to sail his boat has been a reminder about what is important - so I am proud to have kept the Lucky Dog streak alive," Grondin said. "I give lots of thanks to the team: John, Jackson, Alex, and Chandler. The first race today was a nail biter and the shiftiest of the weekend. The last two were more about boat speed. It was really a fun time for us this weekend."

Sailing in the Corinthian division, the Melges 24 Wombmates Racing owned and sailed by John and Gretchen Shockey (Vermilion,OH) took first in class with a solid five-point lead over second place Surprise, helmed by Dan Berezin (Ontario, Canada). "We were super pleased with the result. We sailed as hard and as fast as we could. We were very consistent today which was important but the competition around us were also very consistent so there was no room for mistakes. We were happy the breeze held on, we hiked on and had good breeze even the forecast wasn't calling for a lot of wind so that was a pleasant surprise - we had three races today when we were expecting only one given the forecast. Overall, it was a great event, great competition and we look forward to coming back next year."

Never really losing the lead throughout the regatta in a highly competitive class, Brian Keane (Weston, MA) skippering the J/70 Savasana commented, "I think we were quick, on the wind shifts we were right on point, and I think we were able to capitalize on the currents - it is a multi-variable environment with a lot of things changing. We did a really good job of that. This is the fourth win for us over the past few months - we won Bacardi, the Mid-Winter Championships in Miami, and the Davis Island Winter Series. It's been a fantastic winter and we just have to keep up the momentum for the Worlds in October."

First in Corinthian J/70 was Henry Filter on Wild Child.

Mats Herrstromer (Waxhaw, NC) on his Club Swan 42 won a tiebreaker in Offshore ORC A by taking the final race of the regatta. It was a hard-earned win over Matthew Schaedler (Toledo, OH) skippering his J/122 Blitzkrieg. Schaedler, who also took home the regatta's Palmetto Trophy, commented, "It was very competitive and we were right there together with two others in our class the entire time, it was really fun and great sailing. It was our fourth Charleston Race Week, our first time in this boat, and it's always a fun time!"

In Pursuit Non-Spinnaker A, Hunter Weekes (Greenville, SC), racing on Retox, his Beneteau Oceanis 41, said, "We did well, we had a wonderful time, Friday was a challenge with the winds and the tides, Saturday was an unbelievable pack race the whole way, which was great, and today was somewhere in between but challenging and with way better breeze than was predicted, it was a blast. This is our third year, the new venue was different and interesting, and nice when it was raining hard last night!"

Pursuit Spinnaker A was won by the J/111 Wide Load, skippered by Les Cabiness (Charleston, SC), and in, En Charette, the Noe 27 skippered by Elliot Jennings (Goose Creek, SC), won in a close race against Pursuit Spinnaker B second place William Cramer (Charleston, SC) on Easterly, the e33.

That's it for Charleston Race Week 2023 - see you April 18-21, 2024, for the 28th edition!

View Charleston Race Week 2023 full results here.

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