City’s Race Week proves more popular than Key West
The Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week continues to be one of the fastest growing regattas in the country. The race, now in its 16th year, is organized by the Charleston Ocean Racing Association (CORA). As of mid-February, there were 202 entries for the April 19-22 event.
Charleston had already overtaken Key West Race Week in number of participants three years ago. The 2011 edition had 251 boats register; 234 actually competed. Inshore one-design classes like the Melges 24s and Viper 640s race around the buoys in Charleston Harbor while the larger classes compete offshore.
The organizers foresee a new trend this year, expecting some larger offshore boats, including three International Racing Circuit (IRC) vessels. Austin Fragomen’s TP52 Interlodge, from Newport, RI, is already entered; The Reichel/Pugh 72 Shockwave from Framingham, MA should also be there. Both competed in the Quantum Key West Race Week in January as part of a fleet of eight IRC boats.
Also new to Charleston is a cruising class competing in a pursuit race where the slowest boats (according to handicap) leave first, heading out of the harbor to a mark offshore then returning to the start, making the course about 25 nautical miles. It’s designed for boats that don’t normally compete in buoy races. Event Director Randy Draftz commented, “It’s a diverse group all in one class so we struggled to figure out how to manage it. We’ve tried to simplify it to get everyone back at roughly the same time.”
Brian Swan, another of the organizers, calls it “Randy’s No Sailor Left Behind Act”.
CORA is adding two new launching areas for the convenience of the participants. The entire J22 fleet will be launched at the James Island Yacht Club’s newly finished facility. Another temporary facility will be installed at Union Pier on the harbor, arranged through the State Ports Authority, while Carolina Yacht Club, Charleston Yacht Club, Pierside Boatworks and Charleston Harbor Marina will also host competitors.
Draftz anticipates having one of the most experienced race committees that has ever been assembled for a public event in the U.S, including six US Sailing national race officers, one international and one Canadian national race officer.
Racers flock to Charleston not only for the superb racing but also for Charleston’s legendary hospitality and great restaurants. The host establishment is the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, located at Patriots Point, giving the participants a straight shot to the race courses.
The entry deadline for the Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week is April 13th. The race is open to all monohulls between 20 and 80 feet in length. Contact charlestonracing.org for entry forms, race rules and a list of the competing boats.