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2022 Charleston Race Week - Day 1

by Bill Wagner 29 Apr 2022 22:11 PDT April 28 - May 1, 2022
2022 Charleston Race Week day 1 © Priscilla Parker / Charleston Race Week

Race Day 1 of Charleston Race Week got off to a rousing start with ideal conditions delivering an action-packed opening day. Southeasterly winds ranging from 6 to 11 knots enabled organizers to complete four races for all of the inshore courses. Meanwhile, offshore race committee chairmen Bruce Bingman and Ray Redness were able to give all the pursuit classes relatively long races.

Melges 24 Class - “It was a typical Charleston type of day, and the racing was wonderful,” Melges 24 skipper Travis Weisleder said. “We had solid breeze, tricky current and competitive racing. It was definitely a fun time out there on the water.” Of course, Weisleder had every reason to be happy after winning all four races in Melges 24 Class.

The Richmond, Virginia resident is seeking his third straight Charleston Race Week win and is certainly off to a good start. Veteran professional Mark Mendelblatt is serving as Weisleder’s tactician aboard Lucky Dog, which has taken an early eight-point lead on. John Bowden, who has been racing with Weisleder for more than a decade, is trimming the headsails. “We were most concerned with playing the current and making sure we knew what that was doing today,” said Weisleder, adding that the Circle 2 course “tended to be skewed to the right.”

J/70 Class - Skipper Doug Newhouse and his talented team on Yonder got off to an impressive start in J/70 Class, the largest of the regatta with 49 boats. Australian pro Jeremy Wilmot is calling tactics for Newhouse, a New York Yacht Club member. Trimmer Ted Hackney and bowman Sam Fitzgerald complete the crew on Yonder, which closed the day with back-to-back bullets in posting a low score of 13 points. That is 16 better than second place Terry Hutchinson, who finished second in Race 2 and counts three single-digit results.

Hutchinson is racing with American Magic teammate Lucas Calabrese (tactician), Charleston local Patrick Wilson (trimmer) and Quantum sail designer Mario Trindade (rig tune, bow). All three crew members are past J/70 Class World Champions. Calabrese said it was difficult to decide whether to start at the favored end of the line or by the committee boat. It turns out the unfavored side paid off more. “Positioning on the course was important. There were not a lot of passing lanes,” he said.

VX One Class - Defending champion Doug Clark set the early pace in VX One Class, second largest of the regatta with 39 boats. The longtime Coast Guard Academy sailing director steered Slideshow to a strong score line of 2-3-4-5, but only holds a four-point lead on Tudo Bem. Austin Powers is driving Tudo Bem for owner Michelle Warner, the 2019 VX One Champion here in Charleston. Chris Alexander and his crew on Counterproductive displayed superb speed in winning two races but were undone by a U flag penalty in the second start of the day.

“It was a dynamic day out there and the name of the game was not putting up a big number,” Powers said. “We were very conservative, especially at the starts. Our goal is to make sure we’re in contention come Sunday.”

J/88 Class - Members of the Dutch crew had to scramble a bit after skipper John Leahey had to back out of the regatta. Tactician Will Holz shifted to helmsman and the Chicago Yacht Club entry reorganized well enough to make it to Charleston. They were rewarded handsomely on Race Day 1, fashioning an outstanding score line of 1-3-2-3 to jump on top in J/88 Class. Trimmers Matt Clark and Charlie Gallagher are teaming to handle tactics aboard Dutch, which holds a four-point advantage on Deviation, skippered by Iris Vogel.

“We stayed consistent and relied on our upwind speed,” Holz said. “We were more willing to try out the left than the rest of the fleet. We just played the pressure instead of worrying about the shifts for the most part.”

RS21 Class - Skipper Dennis Walsh led his New Bedford Yacht Club team to victory in two of four races to get off to a great start in RS21 Class. Teagan Walsh and Hadley Walsh are also part of the family program, which placed second and third in the other races in posting a low score of seven points.

Canadian skipper Adam Korbin came off the water pleased despite dropping from second to third place overall due to a sixth in the final race. The Vancouver resident was happy to be racing in a warm weather climate and was thrilled to get the gun in two of four starts to open competition. “We didn’t expect to put up a bullet in our very first race in Charleston,” Korbin said. “This is a very tough fleet, and the racing is super-fun and very competitive.”

All 10 boats in the RS21 fleet are identical in every way and provided by RS Sailing for charter by the various teams. Korbin and teammates Phillip Cragg (helmsman) and Reto Corfu (foredeck) are newcomers to Charleston Race Week. “We wanted to check out Charleston and sail somewhere it’s warm and sunny,” Korbin said. “It’s probably raining right now back in Vancouver.”

J/24 Class - Marcus Rogers and the Wind Monkey crew were on fire Friday, notching bullets in all four races in the J/24 Class. The Rhode Island skipper has built a comfortable eight-point lead over Ice Cube, which is skippered by Michael Quaid.

J/22 Class - Meanwhile, the South Carolina Yacht Club junior team consisting of sailors from the Porter Gaud School in Charleston leads J/22 Class after winning the last three races Friday.

ORC D Class - Four-time Charleston Race Week class winner Michael Beasley installed fellow Annapolis resident Kevin McNeil as the favorite in ORC D and that proved prescient. McNeil steered his Farr 30 Seabiscuit to a pair of first place results to take a six-point lead over the Melges 32 Fearless. “You have to sail well to stay up with the Melges 32s,” said McNeil, referring to the two entries that are scratch boats in ORC D Class. “All in all, we had a good day because the crew did a fantastic job.”

Pursuit Classes - There are three classes competing in pursuit races that head offshore into the Atlantic Ocean. PRO Bingman set a 10 ½-nautical mile course for the non-spinnaker entries, while the Spinnaker A and B boats sailed 14 ½- and 12 ½-mile courses, respectively, with the race committee using drop marks to lengthen. Friday’s Pursuit Class winners were Retox (Hunter Weekes) in Non-Spinnaker, Soul (Chuck Coyer) in Spinnaker A and Cheers (Tom Mackin) in Spinnaker B.

ORC B Class - Meanwhile, the ORC B Class completed a 16-mile course that featured a scoring gate to create two races. Skipper David Poston and the Polly Esther crew reached the scoring gate in second then crossed the finish line in first for a top score of three points

For more information visit www.charlestonraceweek.com.

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