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Spectacular M32 catamarans coming to Sperry Charleston Race Week

by Charleston Race Week 1 Apr 2019 06:08 PDT 11-14 April 2019
M32 catamarans coming to Sperry Charleston Race Week © M32 World / Felipe Juncadella

Spectacular high-performance catamarans will be racing around Charleston Harbor next month blasting past Patriot's Point Marina at speeds approaching 30 knots.

Spectators watching from the water, marina docks or onshore will be thrilled by the sight of 32-foot multihulls flying around a short course set in the area approaching Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

The M32 is coming to 2019 edition of Sperry Charleston Race Week, adding another thrilling element to an already action-packed event. Class organizers brought two of the high-speed catamarans to last year's regatta to assess the logistics and came away determined to add Sperry Charleston Race Week to the annual racing schedule.

"Charleston checks so many of the boxes we look for in venues nice conditions, easy logistics, a fun city with great night life and a rocking beach party!" said Dave Doucett, Director of M32 North America. "We did some test racing there last year and absolutely had a blast. We are looking forward to bringing a strong fleet and enjoying some exciting racing in a beautiful locale."

The M32 is an owner-driver class that features numerous top professionals as crew because these boats "are always pushing the boundaries," according to Doucett. Individual races tend to last less than 20 minutes and plans call for completing eight or more starts per day in Charleston.

This is an international class with teams from Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands expected at Sperry Charleston Race Week. Rev, the current Corinthian World Champion led by skipper Rick DeVos, headlines a fleet of 10 boats. Other top teams include Bliksem (Peter Taselaar) and Convexity (Don Wilson). There will be a hometown entry as Charleston residents Hunter Stunzi and Ed Norton will lead Team Torrent.

Designed by Goran Marstrom and Kare Ljung, the M32 is a lightweight, all-carbon fiber, one-design multihull. Stability is maintained by the forward buoyancy in the hulls and C-shaped dagger-boards, which create some vertical lift and give the helmsman more control.

"These catamarans top out around 28-30 knots which is exciting in itself. Mix in 8-10 other boats around an America's Cup-style course and it's a ton of fun," Doucett said.

First-class customer service has produced remarkable loyalty and transformed Sperry Charleston Race Week into one of the premier events of its kind. What started in 1996 as a regional gathering has steadily grown into the largest keelboat regatta in North and South America.

"We feel we have found a formula that resonates with the sailors and we are constantly working to refine what we are offering," said Randy Draftz, now in his 15th year as event director of Sperry Charleston Race Week.

All the elements that have made Sperry Charleston Race Week so popular remain in place, starting with the sheer beauty and elegant atmosphere of the historic host city. Factor in world-class accommodations along with top-notch facilities and you immediately have the makings of a big-time regatta.

However, Draftz and his team continue to build on the basic template to enhance the event and every year brings further improvements. Another exciting addition to this year's regatta is the RS21 class.

This is the latest model from RS Sailing, the world's largest small sailboat manufacturer with a mission to get more people out on the water. The RS21 provides a high stability hull, user-friendly rig and well-balanced helm for between two and four people to race. Not only is the RS21 a pleasure to race, RS Sailing dramatically reduced the carbon footprint associated with production of the boat by building a hull made from eco-friendly materials.

"We at RS are extremely excited to be involved with Charleston Race Week which is an event known for always attracting the top sailors from around the world. The week provides the perfect platform to showcase the pedigree of the new RS21," said Jon Partridge, CEO of RS Sailing.

To accommodate the desires of offshore boats, regatta organizers have created a new course called "Hybrid Pursuit." This course will replace offshore Circle Five and be open to cruiser-racers using ORC and one-design. Visit the Sperry Charleston Race Week home page to learn more about the new "Hybrid Pursuit" course, which will provide up to three individual races per day as conditions allow.

Draftz said the Charleston Ocean Racing Association, organizing authority and owner of event, is thrilled to have Sperry still onboard as title sponsor. Sperry's involvement has been a driving force behind the remarkable development of Charleston Race Week, helping take the event to another level in terms of quality and prestige.

"Sperry is more than just our title sponsor, they are a true partner," Draftz said. "As a company, Sperry is fully invested in Charleston Race Week and brings incredible value that makes the event better."

Sperry Charleston Race Week is also fortunate to have the continued support of three critical corporate sponsors in Quantum Sails, Gosling's Rum and Vineyard Vines.

Sailors from all over the United States and beyond are gearing up for the 24th edition of Sperry Charleston Race Week, being held April 11-14 out of the famous South Carolina port. At least 250 boats in 17 classes are slated to compete in the three-day regatta, which combines one-design and handicap racing along with inshore and offshore courses.

Among the returning champions are the top two award winners from 2018. Skipper Peter Duncan and his Relative Obscurity team will be back to defend the Charleston Race Week Cup after capturing the highly-competitive J/70 class last year.

That prestigious perpetual trophy is presented for the best overall performance by a one-design entry. Winner of J/70 class, which already has 43 entries, will certainly contend for the Charleston Race Week Cup as racing figures to be fierce.

"It's just a wonderful event with really great competition. It was terrific to sail in this venue for the first time," Duncan said. "Charleston is very tricky with lots of shifts, lots of current. I just think it's a really well-run event and it was a pleasure to participate."

Meanwhile, skipper Mike Beasley and the Rattle-N-Rum team will be seeking to claim the Palmetto Trophy for third straight year. That is awarded to winner of the tightest class among handicap divisions. Beasley's GP 26 is one of 10 current entries in ORC, consisting of a wide variety of speedy sport-boats.

"Winning the Palmetto Trophy two years in a row was definitely a highlight of my racing career, but history is history and we have to look forward and not rest on our laurels," Beasley said. "As in previous years, the competition is going to be hotter than ever and we are looking forward to competing against a very talent-laden sport-boat class."

For the second consecutive year, the Columbus Street Terminal will be available for boat storage, launching and hauling. Organizers of Sperry Charleston Race Week have made arrangements with the South Carolina Port Authority to facilitate launch, haul and trailer storage service at this spacious facility, which is conveniently located almost directly across the Cooper River from the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina.

Current plans call for launching boats on Wednesday and Thursday prior to the regatta while hauling on Sunday and Monday afterward. Owners should send an email to with preferred launch and haul dates and times.

"We want to thank the Port Authority for allowing the regatta to utilize their superb facility. This is a much-needed service and the Port Authority has been very gracious to offer the services of its equipment and staff," Draftz said.

Other public facilities available for storage, launching and hauling include the Cooper River Boatyard, James Island Yacht Club, Charleston Yacht Club, Hobcaw Yacht Club and Remley's Point Boat Ramp. Click here for further details and contact information for each facility.

College of Charleston, which has historically provided considerable support to the regatta, will be docking numerous boats at its J. Stewart Walker Sailing Center. Many of those boats are affiliated with the school's sailing program, including several that will be crewed by members of the College of Charleston intercollegiate dinghy or offshore teams.

For the third straight year, the popular Pro-Am regatta will be held on Saturday night aboard J/22 sloops donated by College of Charleston. Racing will be held off A Dock at the south end of the marina with Shirley Robertson providing commentary to a live stream of the action on the Jumbotron. North Sails professional Allan Terhune is defending champion of the Pro-Am Regatta, which will feature two local high school sailors serving as crew members aboard each boat.

Sperry Charleston Race Week is once again proud to participate in the Sailors for the Sea Clean Regattas Program. Thanks to the incredibly hard work of the volunteer Green Team, all participants and sponsors are pitching in to make this a more sustainable event while striving for Gold Level status.

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