Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week - Day 2
by Charleston Race Week on 13 Apr 2014
2014 Charleston Race Week - Dead calm wind postponed the action on the inshore courses for Day 2 of Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week today, though a moderate sea breeze kicked in around noon, allowing for as many as three races for most of the 16 classes competing here. While a few exceptional performances have produced big leads in some classes, much of the action for Sunday’s finale will be knock-down, drag-out brawls as sailors vye for the honor of standing on the podium tomorrow.
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. © Meredith Block/ Charleston Race Week http://www.charlestonraceweek.com/
The all-new Farr 280 Chessie Racing continues to enjoy a big lead over a PHRF B Class that is full of former Charleston Race Week winners. Owner Ian Gordon says his crew’s learning curve with this boat (less than a week old) is through the roof. 'We’ve had great conditions for a new boat, and thanks to great competition – from especially the Cape Fear 38 and the SR-33 – we’re pushing ourselves and the boat as hard as we dare,' he said.
Like the Farr, Steve Benjamin’s Carkeek 40 Spookie used Saturday’s races to extend its lead over the exotic High Performance Rule Class, and tactician Heidi Benjamin says there are no shortcuts to winning in this high-profile class. 'We have been sailing together for quite some time now, and put a lot of practice and effort into learning and tuning the boat,' she said. 'The mood is great, everyone is positive and helps each other out, and everyone contributes.'
In the J/70 Class – with 80 boats, by far the biggest of the regatta – Minnesota’s Joel Ronning leads by three points over perennial J/24 standout Will Welles. Ronning’s crew is a good example of the caliber of talent participating in this massively growing fleet. Trimming is multiple Farr 40 World Champion Willem Van Waay, and calling tactics is Italy’s most famous sailor, Vasco Vascotto. A long time match racer, America’s Cup tactician, and multiple world champion, Vascotto is in Charleston for the second time. 'Last year we didn’t have a great result, but had an incredible time here,' he said. 'This year, we are having a great time and having a good regatta.' Vascotto says he is lucky to be sailing with a great crew and strong driver, and hopefully they can sail well tomorrow. 'What I can say is that, above all else, this place is always incredibly fun.'
Twenty-three-year-old standout Jason Michas continues to lead the exciting Melges 20 Class, while young Grace Lucas continues to shine as well, holding a solid third place after six races. Grace’s father Russ says he has nothing but admiration despite the fact that his daughter is beating him soundly in his old boat. 'Last month my daughter Molly came down here and nearly won the E-Scow regatta, beating Moth World Champ Bora Gulari, and this month, Grace is beating some of the best sportboat sailors in the world. I am overflowing with pride to see her sailing so fast.'
Lucas said it’s gratifying to see so many young sailors and so many women doing well at the event. 'These kids are our future, and Charleston is a perfect place for them to grow their love for the sport.'
Charleston-based crews continue to perform well at the event, with longtime J/120 skipper Bill Hanckel’s Emocean taking the lead in the Pursuit – Spinnaker Class. Trimmer Rainey Hale says today threw a little of everything at her fleet. 'We had a nice run until the wind shut off, with the whole fleet parked until the sea breeze kicked in,' said Hale. 'But we stayed in it, and focused on keeping the boat moving and having a good time, and that saw us through.'
It’s not all about the bullets though, as Dave Galloway from Annapolis pointed out after two days crewing for Ken Mangano on board Mango in the J/80 class. 'We're psyched. We had an iffy day yesterday, but today was great. We can't touch the guy in first, he's got all bullets, but we performed well enough to be sitting in third. And when you consider that we're here in 80-degree weather racing sailboats in such a cool place, that's awesome.'
Longtime Race Week supporter Gosling’s Rum was represented on Saturday night by Malcolm Gosling, the eponymous head of the historic company, who stopped by to enjoy the beach party. This is the eighth year that our company has been involved and we’ve seen how Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week appeals to so many people across such a wide spectrum of the world,' said Gosling. 'We’re proud to share Gosling’s with this diverse group, and we hope to expand our business in many of these same markets. Overall, we’re thrilled to be part of this great event.'
There are innumerable stories throughout the massive, nearly 300-boat fleet – the largest of any keelboat regatta in the Western Hemisphere; the regatta standings tell many tales, as do the racers themselves on the Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week Facebook Page.
The final day of Race Week will see more moderate Southerly breezes, with potentially stronger sea breeze inside the Harbor as racing concludes. Monitor local conditions live and check out forecast tables here.
2014 Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week Preliminary Cumulative Results: