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2023 Charleston Race Week - Day 2

by Charleston Race Week 22 Apr 2023 16:20 PDT 20-23 April 2023
Sailing for Clemson University is Nilah Miller with crew Mason Baird and Sam Heighway racing in the RS21 fleet - 2023 Charleston Race Week © Michelle Slade

A day that started with dark skies and thunderstorms finally cleared well before noon but not without challenging times for both race committee and racers alike. The 186-strong Charleston Race Week fleet faced big forecast challenges today as early storms killed the winds. The south-south-west sea breeze stayed pinned to the coast and offshore, making for lighter westerlies farther inside the harbor. Two-hour postponements were called on all courses; racing started in 7-10 knots and built steadily throughout the afternoon finishing in 12-14 knots.

"It turned out to be a very good day in the end and I think most people were pleased," Bruce Bingham, principal race officer for the offshore courses, commented. "There were lots of smiles as boats crossed the finish lines."

The 29-strong VX:One fleet are having a blast according to Stanley Hassinger (Chapin, SC) skipper on Little Miss Magic and currently second in class behind John Porter on Farside.

"It was a really tough day, the wind was very shifty and unpredictable around the course," Hassinger said. "We tried to stay as consistent as possible and make gains when we could. The competition is fantastic, the VX fleet is second to none in my book and there are a lot of great sailors here this week so it's been really fun. Farside has been really consistent. Even when you get down to just trying to limit your losses and stay consistent, John Porter is always consistent so it's a matter of trying to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves and mitigate the damage and not make mistakes."

Laura Grodin (Manakin Sabot, VA), sailing on the Melges 24 Lucky Dog/Dark Energy is making good on her goal to keep the boat's winning streak alive. She's currently leading with eight points, four ahead of Zingara skippered by Richard Reid (Ontario, Canada).

"I'm honored to be sailing Lucky Dog with John Bowden who has the boat well setup," Grodin commented. "We had good starts today and we're going fast. It was fun sailing the second race, I enjoy the boat most when we can plane! Here it is important to figure out how to use the current to your advantage. As a driver I had to be on my toes and prepared for shifty winds, both left and right and up and down velocity."

John Shockey (Vermilion, OH) sailing in the Melges 24 Corinthian class on Wombmates Racing, is just one point behind Surprise in close class racing.

"Dan on Surprise are always a formidable Corinthian competitor out there - today there were really tricky conditions in the first race and we got hooked on the top mark, there was so much current that we snagged it with our rudder which set us back," Shockey said. "We followed it up with a second in race two which was an exciting windy race where we were all blast-reaching and planing downwind - a lot of fun. I've raced here before but it was the first time the two rivers were different currents in a fifty-to-hundred-yard stretch. The Ashley was pushing us east and the Cooper was pushing us south, that was very confusing at the top mark," he laughed.

Iris Vogel (New Rochelle, NY) on Deviation and who is leading the J/88 fleet commented, "Today was a good and a fun day. Albondigas also had a great day; it is close in our class so we don't celebrate until the last race is over, it can be any of us and it usually comes down to whoever wins the last race. In the first race we played the current, we were able to go where we needed to go and that's really key, sometimes you don't get that lucky. The second race we couldn't get to where we wanted to be right away and it was a short weather leg and things very quickly, you get one chance to get it right or not. Once you are behind there is not much time to catch up. We've been racing this regatta since 2015, it's really different than any other venue we go to, it's fast-paced, close racing and it's a lot of fun, we love it."

Sailing for Clemson University with crew Mason Baird and Sam Heighway, skipper Nilah Miller has helmed her team to a first-position tie with Douglas McKeige on Boat in the RS21 fleet. The two teams have a solid ten-point lead over the rest of the fleet. For all three Clemson sailors it is the first time that they have sailed a RS21. At the regatta this week the RS21 fleet is testing the Vakaros 2 Race Sense software.

"It's a lot of fun but it is hard because of the current and the wind is super shifty," Miller, who has sailed in Charleston previously in college regattas in 420s said. "My crew has been great at calling tactics so they're helping me out there. We're trying different things and trying to learn the boat. The Vakaros software is cool - we like how you can ping the lines remotely and don't have to press the five-minute button anymore. Tomorrow we'll just keep doing what we've been doing and stay fast and calm!"

Weather guru Shea Gibson noted, "On Sunday we hope to keep a modest N/NNE flow going in the 7-11 kts ranges as long as possible for the last day of racing at Charleston Race Week 2023. Tune in at 8am on Sunday to join Scott Nixon / Quantum Sails and Shea Gibson / Sailflow Weather online for interactive forecasts, local knowledge, and expert tips.

View Charleston Race Week 2023 full results here.

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