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over 115 J/Teams set for Sperry Charleston Race Week

by J/Boats 12 Apr 2019 03:20 PDT 11-14 April 2019
2018 Sperry Charleston Race Week - Day 2 © Andew Sims

It is that time of year again, the weekend before Easter/ Bank Holiday, when it seems just about half the East Coast heads down to Charleston Harbor to sail in the amazingly popular SPERRY Charleston Race Week.

It is not hard to see why over 115 J/Teams are headed down to the historically famous venue (Fort Sumter is where the American Civil War started) for a long three-day weekend of sailing on six courses spread around the huge harbor. The Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina serves as host for the event and the CORA organization provides all logistical and professional race management for the 750+ sailors. While the on-water racing is fun, fast and furious, it's the après' sailing social activities on the beach ashore with loads of rum, beer, southern food, and live music that keeps sailors coming back for more fun-loving memories in the Deep South.

The regatta features six one-design J/Classes, including J/22s, J/24s, J/70s, J/80s, J/88s, and J/105s. In addition, there are two "Pursuit-style" sailing divisions for both PHRF and ORC handicap rated boats that includes a J/30, J/35, J/109s, J/111s, J/120s and a J/122.

Starting with the biggest fleet in the regatta, the fifty-seven J/70s will have their hands full negotiating the shoals and currents and wildly shifting breezes on 3/4 mile windward legs (max!). Despite the challenges, for most J/70 sailors, it is like a big college regatta, but on keelboats.

Looking forward to that experience are many top J/70 teams, like John and Molly Baxter's Vineyard Vines from Riverside, CT; Doug Strebel's Black River Racing from Dallas, TX; Joel Ronning's Catapult from Wayzata YC in MN; John Heaton's Empeiria from Chicago YC; Trey Sheehan's Hooligan: Flat Stanley Racing from Edgewater YC in Cleveland, OH; Marty McKenna's Rarity from Annapolis, MD; Henry Brauer's Rascal from Marblehead, MA; Peter Duncan's Relative Obscurity from American YC; and Brian Keane's Savasana from Boston, MA.

Top visiting teams from outside the USA include Tony Staples' Redcoat from Royal St Lawrence YC in Canada; Francisco Van Avermaete's Juicy from YC Argentino in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Pedro Camargo's Mancha Negra from YC Rio de Janeiro in Brazil; Paul Wolman's Menace from Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club in Bermuda; and Vernon Robert's Morenita from Club de Yates Algarrobo in Chile.

After sailing two midwinter regattas in St Petersburg, FL, the ten-boat J/88 class is looking forward to solid, warm winds, and hot competition. It is a star-studded gathering of the top J/88s from Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and the Northeast. The leading teams should include Iris Vogel's Deviation from Huguenot YC in New Rochelle, NY; Andy and Sarah Graff's Exile from Chicago, IL; Laura Weyler's Hijinks from Youngstown YC in New York; Rob Ruhlman's Spaceman Spiff from Lakeside YC in Cleveland, OH; and Mike Bruno's Wings from American YC in Rye, NY. Anyone of those teams is capable of podium finishes and have all topped the leaderboard in major J/88 regattas in the past.

There are six-boats sailing in the J/22 class, mostly comprised of "Warrior Sailing Teams" on four boats; the four skippers are Sammy Hodges, Jacob Raymond, Corey Hall, and Sammy Lugo. Joining them is Terence Young's Puff and the US Patriot Sailing Team on Patriot XXII.

Of the dozen boats sailing in the J/24 class, eight are from the local fleet and four are "out of towners". It is those "foreigners" that represent a formidable challenge to local knowledge, such as Carter White's YouRegatta from Portland YC in ME and Mike Quaid's Ice Cube from Mallets Bay Boat Club in VT.

The five-boat J/80 class may be dominated by a dynamic duo from Annapolis, MD. Those teams are Bert Carp's Eleven from Annapolis YC and Bill and Shannon Lockwood's Shenanigans from Eastport YC in Annapolis.

It will be an all-South Carolina turn-out for the five-boat J/105 class. Amusingly enough, it also features an internecine rivalry amongst them; Frickie Martschink and Bill McKenzie on Rumfront versus Miles Martschink and Ben Hagood on Skimmer. Making sure that family blood doesn't boil over will be Joe Highsmith on Dead On Arrival, Bob Scribner on Joyride, and the trio of Matt Self, Russ Smith, and Paul Jacques on Ruckus.

It will be interesting to see how the ORC Hybrid Pursuit Division of fourteen boats turns out after three days of sailing. Half of the division is J/Teams. Those boats include Andy Wescoat's J/109 Harm's Way from Houston, TX; two J/111s (Rob Stein's Kinetic from Charleston, SC and Ian Hill's Sitella from Hampton YC in VA); two J/120s (John Keenan's Illyria from Mt Pleasant, SC and Rick Moore's Moose Down from Charleston, SC); Robin Team's J/122 Teamwork from Lexington, NC; and Will Schwenzfeier's J/35 Arrow from Charleston, SC.

In the "traditional" PHRF Pursuit Division, there are five J/Teams. Those fun-loving crews include the J/120 Emocean (Bill Hanckel from Charleston YC); the J/120 Rocket Science (Rick Oricchio from Mt Pleasant, SC); the J/130 Sceptre (Bob Musor from CORA in Mt Pleasant, SC); the J/30 LAS Brisas (Mark Swatta from Mt Pleasant, SC); and the J/36 SOUL (the College of Charleston Sailing Team).

The forecasts are for "breeze-on" for most of the regatta, starting Thursday practice day through the Sunday finale.

More information at

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