by Dan Dickison
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week 19th edition gets underway on 10th April 2014. If you’ve ever attended Charleston Race Week, you know what a great regatta it is. Three days of amazing competition and four nights of fun beachfront parties, and all of it taking place in one of the top tourist destinations in the U.S. And now that assessment has been officially certified. U.S. Sailing – the sport’s governing body in the U.S. – has just announced that Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week will receive the organization’s One-Design Regatta Award for 2013.
2013 Sperry-Top Sider Charleston Race Week-Racing: Day 2
According to US Sailing's Inshore Director Lee Parks, 'This award recognizes excellence in development, promotion and management of the year's outstanding regatta at any level.'
'We’re really grateful to receive this award,' said Randy Draftz, the regatta’s Event Director for the past four years. 'It validates all of the hard work and preparation that so many individuals put into Charleston Race Week each year. We rely on nearly 300 volunteers to make this thing happen as smoothly as it does, and the credit really goes to these people. Of course, getting this award also says a lot about the quality of the sponsors who support the event, and about the caliber of the competitors. Without the support of both those groups, this regatta wouldn’t have achieved this national recognition.'
This event is a regatta that has grown in popularity to become the largest event of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week drew over 280 entries in 2013, and Draftz and his fellow organizers expect to surpass 300 entries this year. (As of mid January, there were already over 160 boats registered.)
The growth in recent years has been so steep that the organizers have considered size limits for the inshore one-designsclasses this year. The Notice of Race for 2014 stipulates no more than 60 boats will be allowed to compete in each inshore class. However, because there are already over 20 J/70s on the wait list for that class, the organizers are working diligently to determine alternative means of accommodating the largest classes.
Refinements such as that have long been parts of the formula that keeps the event relevant and ensures its success. Among the other changes in store for 2014 is the addition of a class for multihulls for the first time ever. Draftz explains: 'This event has always had an inclusive, supportive outlook regarding competitors, and the directors have long wanted to invite multihulls, but we’ve been focused on other areas of growth until now. This year, we're opening the regatta up to offshore multihulls, and so far the response looks promising.'
Other changes include the addition of a new sponsor, Quantum Sail Design Group. According to Quantum President Ed Reynolds: 'Charleston Race Week's organizers have done a tremendous job in building a respected event that is now the largest of its kind in the country....Their focus on creating a great customer experience aligns with what Quantum is all about, and we look forward to partnering with the event staff to build on this even more. With our sail loft in Charleston, we will be able to provide a high level of service and support to the race teams as well as professional on-the-water coaching, post-race debriefs, and event coverage utilizing the talents of our Quantum team members.'
Quantum’s involvement, says Draftz, will enable the organizers to augment the educational aspects that have come to be associated with the regatta. 'We’ll be increasing the number of post-race panel discussions, 'he explained, and doing some clinics and coaching sessions. Our theme this year is come to Charleston Race Week and become a better sailor. We’re even planning a team racing exhibition. We want every competitor to have a good time, and to leave feeling like they’ve augmented their skills as well. 'Now that’s an award-winning formula.
Dauntless Crew - Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week 2014
Event website: click here