Light winds limit racing at Charleston Race Week

Published on April 13th, 2014

Charleston, SC (April 13, 2014) – From the always dynamic Viper 640 fleet to the revved-up High Performance Rule Class, there was a tremendous amount of racing activity across Charleston area waters for Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week on April 11-13. The 19th edition hosted racing for 16 separate classes, including the first ever gathering of offshore multihulls at this event.

The growth of the event drew competitors from 27 states and five continents, from as far away as New Zealand, Scandinavia, Brazil, Guatemala, Australia and Peru. Many of these foreign sailors are among the sport’s top names, including Vasco Vascotto from Italy (in the J/70 Class), 2013 College Sailor of the Year Juan Maegli of Guatemala (in the J/24 Class), Jordan Reese from Australia (in the J/70 Class), Australian stalwart Jeremy Wilmot (in the HPR Class), and Peruvian Olympic Laser hopeful Stefano Peschiera (in the J/24 Class).

This pantheon of stars notwithstanding, the majority of the competitors racing in Charleston are folks whose faces wouldn’t catch notice on the pages of a sailing magazine, yet they’re definitely capable of scorching up the race course. A case in point is the J/80 crew on board Do it for Denmark. Will and Marie Crump out of Annapolis, who sailed masterfully with Thomas Klok and Alan Terhune. In fact their performance was so flawless that they won the regatta handily with all bullets.

Elsewhere across fleet, the competition for first in class was much tighter even though the offshore competitors weren’t able to race on Sunday due to a lack of wind. In the six-boat Tartan Ten Class, Leif Sigmond’s crew on Norboy (out of Chicago) nipped their Great Lakes’ rivals on Scott Irwin’s Team Iball (out of Toledo, OH) by one point. It was “fair,” said Irwin afterward. “Last year, we just beat them by a point when racing was called off due to too much wind. This year, they just beat us by one when we didn’t race because of too little wind, so that’s just fair.”

In the regatta’s most numerous class, the 75-boat J/70 fleet, top honors went to Jimmy Barnash of Rochester, NY by four points over Rob Britt’s crew from St. Petersburg, Fla. For Britts, who has only been sailing the boat for three months and sails with an all Corinthian team of friends, it was a very sweet moment. “This is my seventh time competing here. We won this event back in 2003, but I think finishing second in such a big fleet is even more satisfying.”

In the grand prix arena – the four-boat High Performance Rule Class – Steve and Heidi Benjamin’s Carkeek 40 Spookie proved dominant, winning handily by a five-point margin with all bullets. Afterward, Spookie’s navigator Bora Gulari was gratified. “It was a good week for us. The crew seems to be jelling well in the short span of time I’ve been on board (since October). I’d say we’re maybe the fastest grand prix team in the country at the moment.”

Out on that same racecourse, where the committee finally had to abandon the proceedings after the winds failed to materialize, a few competitors made the most of it. In the PHRF D Class, the crew on board Steve Lesniak’s Beneteau 510 Celadon challenged their rivals on Jay Cook’s Beneteau 423 Tohidu to a swimming contest. According to Celdon’s pit crew Fred Moore, “It was the best way to take advantage of the day. It was just dead out there, unfortunately, but that didn’t keep us from having fun. And yes, there was a little alcohol involved, but just a little.” It turns out, their celebrations were well timed as Celadon went home the winner in the Pursuit Class Non-Spinnaker, and Lesniak dragged his entire 20-person crew up on the stage during the awards.

The organizers of Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week hand out two overall awards. This year, the Palmetto Cup (the award for the best overall performance by a boat in the handicap classes) went to Cool Breeze, John Cooper’s custom Mills 43 out of Lake Stockton, Missouri. The Charleston Race Week Trophy (the annual award for the best performance in the most competitive one-design class) went to Bruce Ayres crew onboard the Melges 24 Monsoon out of Newport Beach, CA.

Event website:

Source: Event media

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