The Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week has become the largest U.S. multi-class regatta, and it’s still growing. Watch for a new set of competitors as Charleston Race Week adds a new class for multihulls and a new sponsor, Quantum Sail Design Group. And while the city of Charleston receives many accolades as one of the top destination spots in the world, Race Week has earned its own title as one of the most fun regattas to boot. In fact, U.S. Sailing announced that the Charleston event will receive the organization’s One-Design Regatta Award for 2013.
This year’s Charleston Race Week, April 10-13, marks the regatta’s 19th anniversary, but race organizers are not resting on their laurels. The inclusion of multihulls fulfilled a long-held wish of the directors, said Event Director Randy Draftz. “We were focused on other areas of growth initially. We’re hoping for a good turnout of multis,” he explained. The regatta also includes two offshore courses for PHRF and non-PHRF boats, as well as a pursuit race for cruising boats.
The event’s rapid growth – 278 boats were on the water in 2013, and more than 300 are expected this year – caused another change: limiting the number of boats in each of the inshore classes to 60. The new J70 class for one came in strong last year with 55 entries. Three separate racing courses will be set in the harbor, so race officers think the cap will safely accommodate all the inshore classes.
“It’s also important to be responsive to our participants,” Draftz pointed out. Quantum’s involvement allows the organization to renew its emphasis on education, including a team racing demonstration as well as panel discussions and clinics on racing techniques.
As of mid-January, 175 boats had registered, including sailors from Bermuda to California and Canada to Brazil. Regatta participants in 2013 included six Olympic medalists, almost 24 America’s Cup veterans, and numerous world and North American champions. But that doesn’t deter the “everyman” aspect of the racing.
“What’s really cool [about this regatta],” explains Draftz, “is that you can be completely new to the sport, yet you get to be on the water right alongside guys who we all read about. It’s like lining up to play golf in a foursome with Tiger Woods, and later you get to hobnob with those guys on shore.”
And Charleston is known for its hospitality. Along with three days of amazing competition with the historic city as a backdrop, you can enjoy four evenings of southern food and hospitality, with Gosling’s Rum as a sponsor. Over 15,000 rum drinks were hoisted last year!
Local sailor Tim Vienneau races Peregrine, his Beneteau 456 First, using it to involve Sea Scouts. “Last year was great. Planning started in January as the Scouts helped prepare the boat. Over the course of the regatta, we had eight different Sea Scouts plus leaders aboard.”
One of his Sea Scout crew, Patrick Harrison, normally races 420’s. “It was a great experience,” he says.
“I love the event’s ease of access,” Rob Britt says. He has participated seven times and was captain of the Melges 24 class. He recently bought a J70 to campaign this year. “It’s a lot of fun, and, for me, it’s the right amount of sailing in the right amount of time. Overall, it’s a good event, with good logistics and reasonable costs in a central location.”
For more information, visit www.charlestonraceweek.com