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Charleston Race Week at Patriots Point an epic experience for the VX One fleet

by Charleston Race Week 27 Mar 20:23 GMT April 18-21, 2024
Twenty-five teams are signed up to compete in the VX One Class at Charleston Race Week at Patriots Point, making them the second-largest fleet of sport boats competing in 2024 © Priscilla Parker/CRW2023

This year promises to be an epic Charleston Race Week experience for the VX One fleet. The event responded to the fleet's request to be moved farther out in the harbor away from the shallows so VX One racing will take place on the same course as the J70s and Melges 24s. Twenty-five boats are registered and the fleet hopes that there'll be at least 30 on the start line. It's not too late to register!

Three boats competing shared their stories about getting into the VX One, the joy of racing Charleston Race Week and why they keep returning year after year to race.

Mark Liebel (Bradenton, FL) has sailed in CRW for the better part of 15 years in boats including the J88, Melges 24 and the J70. He now sails USA 313 with his daughter Kaitlyn and longtime family friend Jordan Wiggins. Kaitlyn is a college student at the University of Jacksonville and considered one of the best female drivers in any class in the USA, and Mark is class VP. Jordan was a major force on the College of Charleston offshore sailing team and worked for Sailing Inc. in Charleston for a long time before moving to Florida to work for Mark's company.

Mark got into the VX One through his friend Brian Bennett who designed the boat. When the VX One was introduced, Brian encouraged him to check it out, Mark was in the market for a high-performance boat that would be simple enough for Kaitlyn, who was then 15, to drive.

"I crewed on several boats, fell in love with the boat and bought one in December of 2019," Mark shared. "Since then, Kaitlyn, Jordan and I have campaigned the boat actively. This will be our fourth Charleston Race Week in the VX One, we love the technical aspect of sailing in Charleston with its many different possible wind directions and especially the current — we play current as much if not more than wind."

He added, "Another great thing about CRW is the off the water social activities. Getting everyone together from all of the different classes enables us to see many friends we don't see all the time and we are always meeting new people."

Kaitlyn, who is on the sailing team at Jacksonville University, drives, Jordan trims the spinnaker and jib and Mark trims main as well as calls tactics.

"Since we purchased the boat, we have meshed together as a team very nicely. Being on the sailing team has really helped Kaitlyn's boat-on-boat techniques, especially in close quarters. Jordan grew up sailing in the Charleston area which really helps with local knowledge at CRW. I just try to stay out of the way and keep the boat pointing in the right direction!"

Ryan Davidson, Jack Jorgensen, and Abbie Goodness are racing on USA 222 SDR. Ryan (Hermosa Beach, CA) grew up in Southern California sailing Naples Sabots. He started racing the VX One in 2019 at Charleston Race Week when his friend Jeff Eiber was recruiting new sailors into the class by chartering his second boat.

"The VX One looked like an exciting boat from the first time I laid eyes on it: one day in the boat and we were hooked!" Ryan smiled. "It's a sporty 19-foot boat that can get up and go, and it can be sailed competitively at a wide range of crew and weight combinations. The boat is forgiving enough to allow sailors to hop in and pick it up quickly, but also rewards those who spend the time on tuning for each set of conditions. The class is extremely forthcoming with information and helping anyone trying to get into the class. That said, the racing is some of the closest I have been a part of."

Ryan has been racing CRW since 2013 when he crewed on a Melges 24. Since then, he hasn't missed an event and has sailed Melges 24s, J70s, J22s, and now the VX One.

"On a perfect Charleston sea breeze day, with an incoming tide and flat water, this boat rips downwind but the best part at CRW is that all my close friends are sailing alongside me. A beautiful 3 or 4 race day with all my closest friends and coming back to a shoreside party at the Yorktown; what more could you ask for! If you have not been to CRW, pack up your boat and head out this way! You will not regret it."

Ian Maccini (Jamestown, RI) is the USA distributor of the VX One through Streamline Marine. He first sailed the boat in 2013 in high school and having only sailed much slower, heavier, and older boats, he was immediately hooked. He started crewing whenever he could and his family got a VX One in 2014. Ian sailed the boat with his family for a few years before getting one of his own.

"Now we race against each other which is so much fun both on and off the water!" Ian said. "The boat is incredibly well laid out and easy to sail. The people in the class are what make it so special; I can't say enough good things about everyone involved. It started as a very small closely knit group and that environment still exists today, just with a lot more great people."

This will be Ian's sixth race week and he'll be sailing with Curtis Adam and Molly Sylvia on USA 167 Blue Lobster. He first raced CRW in 2018 and hasn't missed a year since.

"Charleston Race Week is always one of the highlights of our schedule because it fits in perfectly with moving the boats back from the winter circuit in FL, the quality of the racing is excellent and the off the water activities can't be beat- some days they are even better than the sailing! It is a great venue for the VX, usually offering good breeze and relatively flat water which is where the VX really shines. We can't wait for another great race week and a big thanks to Reggie Fairchild and Jerry Callahan for being such great promoters of VX racing in Charleston."

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