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Charleston Race Week at Charleston Yacht Club - Day 2

by Bill Wagner 10 Apr 2021 22:34 PDT April 8-11, 2020

It was moving day at Charleston Race Week and many teams took that mandate to heart. There was a shakeup of the standings within several classes as certain boats many opening day leaders were overtaken.

Of course, the fact all eight classes on the four inside circles were able to complete four races on Saturday gave trailing boats an opportunity to climb up the leader board.

VX One, which has 25 entries, was among the one-design classes that had a new leader after Day 2. Chris Alexander and his crew aboard Counterproductive had a strong day on the water, posting an impressive 1-2-3-3 score line to move into first place.

Michelle Warner and the Tudo Bem team fell from first to third as Quantum professional Marty Kullman (USA 275) also advanced several places.

Counterproductive has a low score of 25 points, six better than Kullman and seven ahead of Warner.

"It's really tight overall. It's awesome that eight races in, there are still four boats that can win the regatta," said Alexander, runner-up to Warner at Charleston Race Week 2019.

James Rose is calling tactics, while Madeline Gill is handling the middle aboard Counterproductive, which got three good starts then sailed conservatively by playing the middle-left side of the course. Alexander said the team rebounded from its one bad start to place second.

"It was a very challenging day - really puffy with a lot of current. Going upwind, you had to make a decision as to when you wanted to cross the current," Alexander said. "Getting in phase on the first windward leg is really key. We're fast downwind, so if we get to that first windward mark in good shape, I feel confident we're going to pass boats on the run."

Cloudy skies allowed for a light easterly to predominate at the beginning of the day and made it difficult to set up the first race on Saturday. Strong current caused general recalls for several classes early on.

Fortunately, the sun broke through and warmed the surrounding land, enabling the southerly sea breeze to take over. By Race 2, the wind was solidly in the southern quadrant and building to 12-15 knots.

Dutch, sailed by John and Jordan Leahey of Denver, Colorado, closed Saturday with three straight bullets to ascend to the top of the J/88 standings. Andy Graff and the Exile team also did well, knocking Day 1 leader Albondigas down to third.

Going into the final day of the regatta, Dutch has a two-point lead on Exile with Albondigas three points astern.

"Dutch was really fast today, but from our perspective Exile felt fast as well," said Graff, who posted a score line of 3-2-2-3. That enabled Exile to drop an 11th suffered in Race 2.

"Yesterday we led at a lot of windward marks and obviously made some mistakes that pushed us back. Today we avoided the deep fleet digger," Graff added. "You can see how fast the standings can change in this tight class. Going into tomorrow, we have to stay focused on our own race as opposed to worrying about boat-to-boat strategy."

Several other one-design classes are also too close to call going into the final day. Skipper Bruno Pasquinelli steered Stampede to victory in Race 6 to stay atop the J/70 class, which has 29 boats. However, Joel Ronning and the Catapult crew posted a pair of seconds and a third in four races to get within five points.

It's a similar story in the 19-boat J/24 class as Tyrus (Kirk Reynolds) held onto first place, but only by a two-point margin. Aidan Glackin led Mental Floss to finishes of first, second and third on Saturday and was thus able to drop a ninth incurred in Race 2.

"We're having a really good battle with Kirk, who is sailing great. He hasn't tripped up yet," said Glackin, a Huntington, New York resident.

Geoff Becker is calling tactics for Glackin, marking the third time they have sailed together. However, the rest of the crew has been together for 16 years or more. Glackin has never won Charleston Race Week in five attempts and knows this is a good chance to do so.

"I try not to worry about Tyrus. We need to stick to our game-plan. Our goal is to go out and win the first race and put some pressure on Kirk," Glackin said.

Travis Weisleder and the Lucky Dog team continued to roll along on Saturday, closing with back-to-back bullets to maintain a firm grip on first place in Melges 24 class - largest of the regatta with 33 boats. New England Ropes was tabbed as the boat to beat going into the regatta and skipper Bora Gulari is now in firm contention after opening Saturday with a 1-1-2 score line.

Lucky Dog has a nine-point cushion on New England Ropes and Weisleder is feeling confident, but not too comfortable.

"Depending on how many races we have tomorrow, I think anything can happen in this class. It's just so deep and talented," the Richmond, Virginia resident said. "If there are only two races, we need to have one really good result. Our approach tomorrow will be the same as it has been for the whole regatta. Just go out and control what we can control."

When Andy Gruhl moved from Baltimore to Mount Pleasant five years ago, he bought a 1D35 from Dr. John Lucas. Those two men quickly became competitors as Dr. Lucas partnered with Marc Durlach to move into a Melges 32.

Gruhl has steered Fogdog to victory in four races and finished second in two others to take a two-point lead in ORC D. However, Lucas and Durlach have Fearless right on his heels after posting a 2-1-2-3 score line on Saturday.

Competition within ORC D, which is sailing on Circle 3, has been extremely close - evidenced by all five boats finishing within 30 seconds of each other in Race 3 on Friday.

"We've been nailing the start every race, then tacking over right away to the favored side based off the current," Gruhl said. "We just seem to be able to point better than even the Melges 32s, which is kind of surprising. We have a new main that has made a big difference."

Christian Cyrul sailed a Wavelength 24 named Whatta Ride with his father for 12 years. After graduating from Reserve Officer Training School at Notre Dame, Cyrul was sent to the Naval Nuclear Power School in Charleston.

As a graduation present, Chris Cyrul gave his son the family sailboat. Part of the reason is the father lives in Michigan and figured Christian would make better use of the Wavelength 24 in Charleston.

"I'm the boat owner now and it's a lot more expensive than I thought, but also a ton of fun," Christian said.

It's a family affair at Charleston Race Week 2021 with Chris Cyrul trimming the jib upwind and working the pit downwind for his son. Michael Cyrul, Christian's 14-year-old brother, is calling boats from the stern and serving as floater doing whatever needed. Joey Lark, Christian's close friend, came down from Newport to trim the spinnaker and call tactics.

Subtract two missteps and the close-knit team is performing quite well - winning five of seven races held so far. Whatta Ride was hit with a scoring penalty for Race 1 after Christian Cyrul did not realize he was supposed to participate in an online protest hearing. A bullet in Race 7 turned into a DNS and Cyrul did not know why when contacted Saturday night.

"We've been getting great starts and nailing our sets and douses. Our crew work has been tremendous," Christian said. "I think communication has been critical. We're always in constant communication about tactics and strategy. Everyone is on the same page at all times."

Ken Horne continues to dominate J/105 class with Final Final, which has won all eight races. The League City, Texas boat finds itself in the rare position of having a bullet as a throwout and holds a commanding 11-point lead.

ORC A and B sailed the exact same course on Saturday as they did on Friday. Principal Race Officer Bruce Bingman transformed once distance race into two results by introducing a four-legged windward-leeward section and adding a scoring gate.

Only difference on Saturday was the fleet had a beat instead of a reach after entering the Atlantic Ocean. Robin Team, skipper of the J/122 Teamwork, described the distance race as being like "one, long windward-leeward."

Teamwork, a four-time winner of the Palmetto Trophy as top handicap boat at Charleston Race Week, was first at the scoring gate and first across the line. Those two bullets put the North Carolina entry in the overall lead of ORC B, four points ahead of Day 1 leader Loki.

Teamwork noted there was about a knot and a half worth of ebb tide, which was a factor going out and coming back. "Everyone was short-gybing down the eastern side of the channel. We tried to stay in 15-20 feet of depth on the way back toward the harbor to avoid the adverse current," he said.

"I thought we sailed a great race today. Our crew work was absolutely flawless," Team added.

Teamwork is the slowest boat in the class and is owed about four minutes per hour by Loki, a J/121 owned by Robert Christoph.

"We are having a great battle with Loki, which is a well-sailed boat. We crossed tacks with them several times right off the start today," Team said. "We'll have to go to the bed early tonight and get a good night's sleep. We need to be ready to rock tomorrow."

On the Pursuit Race division, a pair of local boats are duking it out in Spinnaker Class B. Co-owners Will Cramer and John Barnes have sailed Easterly, a Charleston-registered e-33, to victory in both races. Cheers, a Santana 30/30 owned by Mount Pleasant resident Tom Mackin, has finished second each day.

Easterly and Cheers rate exactly the same and comprise the fourth start within the seven-boat class. Bingman added a dogleg to the Pursuit course, increasing the distance to 17 miles. Cramer, the helmsman, said Easterly sailed boat-for-boat with Cheers until the midway mark of the race. The e-33 passed the other four boats in the class shortly after clearing the jetties.

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