sail-world.com -- Charleston Race Week 2013 - Action intensifies on Day 2
Charleston Race Week 2013 - Action intensifies on Day 2
Sun, 21 Apr 2013
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week 2013. On the heels of Friday’s gear-busting winds, Saturday’s moderate breezes and calm seas translated into less anxiety for most of the fleet at America’s biggest regatta. That doesn’t mean it was a drama-free Day 2 at 2013 Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week; in fact, one look at the scoresheet makes it clear that there are some incredibly tight battles throughout the fleet, and most of them will come down to the final race. Never before has every inshore class come down to the wire; usually there is a runaway victor or two among the eight classes in the harbor. Not this time; the podium remains undecided across these competitive one-design fleets.
It was a battle for some just to make it to the course; Bob Hughes Heartbreaker (Ada, MI) recovered from a dismasting yesterday with a new rig and stormed back to second place in the Melges 20 Class after four tricky races. 'My crew worked their tails off to get us on the course and get the new mast tuned properly and the boat going fast, and we were smiling all day,' said Hughes.
Local North Sails loft owners George and Peter Durst put in a few extra hours last night to ensure the fleet had their sails ready for the morning after a damaging day. 'We repaired 27 sails in one night, and finished at 4:30 a.m.,' said Peter. When asked if he’s happy to get some sleep tonight, he laughed. 'What are you talking about? We’ve got another van full of sails to take back to the loft tonight!'
It’s more than just another great regatta for the high-octane Melges 24 fleet; Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week’s winner will also be crowned the 2013 U.S. National Champion. Bermuda’s Alec Cutler, aboard Hedgehog, opened up a three-point lead on 2012 Charleston winner and multiple continental/national champ Bora Gulari, with an 11-point cushion back to third place. And five-time Olympian Richard Clarke (Salt Spring Island, Canada) said it was incredibly difficult to perform consistently in today’s conditions. 'One slow tack and you drop 10 boats; there is literally no room for anything but perfection or you’re always digging out,' he said. Clarke said that Charleston’s short courses and changing currents are a great equalizer for the teams. 'The old guys like us, and the young guns – everyone is mixing it up constantly; a lead is never safe here.' Clarke’s advice? Expect a duel to the finish: 'We’ll see what the math looks like after the first race tomorrow, but it will probably be mano-a-mano between the Hedgehog and the boys from Michigan.'
In the race for the Melges 24 Corinthian (amateur) National Championship, Paul Hulsey (Hoodlum Racing) trails Steve Leibel’s New Wave by just three points despite winning the final race of the day. 'It’s nice to come in on a high note, but Charleston sure is a nerve-wracking place to try to hang on to a lead,' said the Detroit native.
The grand prix High Performance Class includes the biggest and fastest boats at the event. They’re carbon-fiber rocketships with the ability to sail faster than the wind. Their skilled crews push for every fraction of a knot of speed and every inch of real estate, and one boat pushed just a little too hard today – the year-old Carkeek 40 Decision crashed into Pat Eudy’s Lutra 42 Big Booty, holing the bigger boat and destroying its own bowsprit.
'It was a heck of an impact; their pole actually went through the hull, into the boat, and up through the cockpit,' said Big Booty tactician, Charleston sailmaker John Bowden. Both boats were too damaged to finish their regatta, shrinking the class down to just two boats. 'It was a real shame; we finally had conditions the boat excels in, we had a great start, we were sailing along on starboard, and then things went bad.' Bowden explained. The Charleston-based team sailor said that, while they were certainly not happy to end their home regatta this way, it’s something that can happen any time. 'We all make mistakes, and we have nothing but respect for the way the Decision crew took responsibility for the incident. We hope they come back for a rematch next year,' Bowden added.
Bigger Action Ahead As Conditions Deteriorate
After consulting various weather resources, Event Director Randy Draftz feels confident that the race officers will be able to stage at least some competition on Sunday to finish out the exciting week. 'Earlier weather models predicted Easterly winds up to 30 knots tomorrow – conditions that no one wants to race in,' said Draftz. 'The more recent data indicate a less daunting scenario, with sustained winds topping out around 20 knots.' Draftz says his team is taking a cautious approach for safety’s sake, but adds that 'it looks quite promising.'
Canadian Clarke summed up most of the teams’ thoughts on the matter. 'It’s gonna be pedal-to-the-metal stuff, boys and girls. Keep your legs and arms inside the ride at all times.'
Racing begins tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. Be sure to visit Charleston Race Week Facebook for up-to-the-minute news, photos, and updates throughout the weekend.
Results (Top 3 Only)
Place, Yacht Name, Owner/Skipper, Hometown, Results, Total Points