by Dan Dickison
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week is expecting a record year in 2012. Organizers within Charleston Ocean Racing Association are busily making plans for what is shaping up to be another bonanza edition.
Melges 24 starting line action during Charleston Race Week
By early January, the event’s steering committee had received sufficient inquiries to predict a 15 percent increase in entries for the mid-April affair. That means nearly 300 boats could materialize for what has become the one of the most popular and fastest growing keelboat regattas in the U.S.
Event Director Randy Draftz said he’s excited about several of developments that should define race week this year.
'Growth has become a hallmark of our event. The size of our fleet has increased steadily throughout the years. In 2011, 235 boats competed. What’s interesting this year is that, though we’ve evolved to become a premier event for trailerable one-designs, we’re beginning to see significant interest among offshore boats, particularly in the grand prix crowd.' So far, said Draftz, the event has a commitment from one mini maxi, the RP 72 Shockwave, the brand new TP 52 Interlodge, and serious inquiries from other IRC racing teams. 'We’ve also had genuine interest from the Farr 400 group as well as owners in the Farr 30 class,' he added, 'and we may see a J/111 class as well.'
Draftz expects the trailerable one-design fleets to produce record turnouts again this year, with higher numbers expected in the J/22 and J/24 classes as well as the Viper 640 Class. In addition, the Melges 24 Class has announced that Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week will serve as the Gold Cup regatta this year.
'We know we’ll get significant numbers of Melges 20s, J/80s, and Ultimate 20s, too,' he added, 'and it appears that the Tartan 10s will field a class as well. In order to accommodate these increases, we’ve enlisted the support of several surrounding yacht clubs that have launch facilities, and we’re looking into an additional launching site to improve the speed and convenience of those logistical aspects.'
Draftz explained that many of the early entries were taking advantage of the early registration discount, which will expire after January 31.
Along with anticipated growth in entries, the regatta organizers are enhancing the on-the-water race management by putting together a top-tier team.
Brickhouse Team - Charleston Race Week 2011
'It’s pretty impressive. I’d venture to guess that the people running our five separate race courses represent the most experienced group of race officers ever assembled for a public regatta,' said Draftz.
'All of our principal race officers have national credentials and at least one has international credentials. We’re really fortunate to have this kind of talent on the race committee boats.'
As always, the shoreside festivities at the beachfront regatta village – the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina – will feature superb southern hospitality. 'With Sperry Top-Sider back as our title sponsor this year,' said Draftz, 'and Vineyard Vines and Gosling’s Rum returning as well, the post-race activities will definitely provide over-the-top fun.'
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week runs from April 19 through April 22 and is open to all monohull sailboats 20 to 80 feet in length. The event is owned and managed by Charleston Ocean Racing Association and is supported by the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, Vineyard Vines, and Gosling’s Rum (Presenting Sponsors).
Additional sponsors include the Town of Mt. Pleasant, Gill, Coral Reef Sailing Apparel, North Sails, Interlux/Awlgrip, West Marine, Pierside Boatworks, Seabreeze Marina and Azalea Moving and Storage. To register for the event or get additional information regarding the regatta, log on to the event’s website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.