by Dan Dickison
For the 2013 edition of Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week, critical mass is an apt description for the number of competitors expected to be on the water when the event gets underway on Friday, April 19. Nearly 300 sailboat owners from across the U.S. and six other countries have registered to compete, effectively rendering this the largest regatta of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. (There were 296 at press time.)
Charleston Race Week
This year, Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week has grown by over 15 percent, attracting sailors of all stripes, from novices in the sport to professional crews. The majority of participants – roughly 85 percent – come from places other than South Carolina. In fact, there will be nearly as many boats arriving from places west of the Mississippi River as there will be from the entire palmetto state.
'We’re really pleased to see how popular this regatta has become,' said Event Director Randy Draftz. 'We’ve always been committed to the highest quality of race management on the water and superb shoreside hospitality, and I think that formula really works. We’re also fortunate to have one of the most desirable sailing venues in the country as well as a terrific assembly of sponsors, beginning with Sperry Top-Sider, our title sponsor for the past three years.'
Draftz added that almost every aspect of the regatta has grown significantly over the past year. 'Now, we’ve not only got more competitors than ever before, but we’ve also attracted more sponsors, and we’re getting more exposure. Our 30-second commercial on Outside Television has been airing in markets across the country (meaning 8 million households) for several weeks now.'
No doubt the biggest growth area this year is among the smaller, trailerable keelboats that race inshore. Included here will be a 56-boat class of J/70s, a design that had barely been introduced a year before and a 39-boat fleet of Viper 640s. 'In all, it appears that we’ll have over 200 boats in Charleston Harbor,' explained Draftz, 'so it’s going to be an amazing sight from almost any perspective. It’s definitely a record year for us.'
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week runs from April 18 through April 21 and is open to all monohull sailboats 20 to 80 feet in length. The event is owned and managed by Charleston Ocean Racing Association.
For more information, please visit Charleston Race Week