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CRW, Congo Cup and the VOR—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 13 Apr 2014
The ultra high performance HPR Class features four of the fastest boats in the world for their size. Here Denali 2 (Harbor Springs MI) puts her bow down to stay clear of the quicker boats to weather. - Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week © Meredith Block/ Charleston Race Week http://www.charlestonraceweek.com/
Charleston Race Week has been commanding this weekend’s sailing headlines as some two-thousand sailors, racing aboard 280-plus boats, gathered for one of the East Coast’s first major regattas of the 2014 racing season. According to reports, Charleston Race Week (CRW) sailors have enjoyed a variety of conditions during the four-day event, which is slated to wrap-up racing today.

In the ultra-fast HPR class, Steve and Heidi Benjamin’s 'Spookie' continues to lead the pack. 'We have been sailing together for quite some time now, and put a lot of practice and effort into learning and tuning the boat,' said Heidi Benjamin, who, along with Moth legend Bora Gulari, is calling tactics for the team. 'The mood is great, everyone is positive and helps each other out, and everyone contributes.'



One of the more interesting boats sailing (read: debuting) in this year’s CRW is the brand-new Farr 280, which is currently leading the PHRF B class. 'We’ve had great conditions for a new boat, and thanks to great competition – from especially the Cape Fear 38 and the SR-33,' said the boat’s owner and skipper, Ian Gordon. 'We’re pushing ourselves and the boat as hard as we dare.'

Racing has been predictably intense in the Melges 20 class. 'I really enjoyed today, the racing was really tight, and any mistake [will] cost you boats,' said 'Makaira’s' Skip Shapiro. 'The breeze wasn’t as crazy as yesterday, and we did our best to stay in the pressure and make sure we had a nice current lift on starboard coming into the mark.'



Get the full report from CRW, inside, and be sure to stay tuned to the website today for the latest news from Charleston Race Week, as it unfurls.

In match-racing news, the on-the-water action has been intense this weekend at the 50th Anniversary Congressional Cup (or the 'Congo Cup', as it’s affectionately called), which wraps up today at Long Beach Yacht Club in Long Beach, California. Taylor Canfield (USVI) is currently leading a star-studded entry list, but today’s racing will ultimately determine top bragging rights amongst the regatta’s top-ranking skippers, including Ian Williams (GBR), Francesco Bruni (ITL) and Keith Swinton (AUS).



Get the full report, as well as links to live streaming from this prestigious regatta, inside.

Meanwhile, in Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) news, Team Alvimedica launched their VO65 this past weekend in the UK, and are now expected to begin sea trials and an extensive training regime before sailing transatlantic to Newport in May. The team is sponsored by the Turkish-based medical manufacturer Alvimedica, and is being sailed in this year’s VOR by a predominantly American crew that’s striving to be the youngest boat in the fleet.



'Today is a great moment for the both of us,' said Mark Towill, Team Alvimedica’s General Manager, as well as an onboard watch captain. 'We’ve followed this dream all this time and for so long we didn’t think it would happen. We can’t wait to assemble our crew now and get in shape for the big start in October.'

Get the full story on Team Alvimedica’s first day of sailing, inside this issue, and stay tuned for more on this Turkish- and American-flagged VOR entry, as it becomes known.



Also inside, be sure to get the latest news from the America’s Cup, the Oyster Regatta Antigua, the Women’s International Match Racing Series and the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.



And finally, be sure to spend some time scrolling through the great image galleries from the Melges 32 Audi Tron Sailing Series Napoli event, compliments of ace shooters Stefano Gattini and Max Ranchi.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

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