Regatta Marketing: What traveling sailors need to know

Published on April 11th, 2015

Growing attendance should be a priority for any regatta committee, and providing fun and informative details will alleviate the unknown for the traveling competitors. An event that has seen significant growth is Sperry Charleston Race Week… here’s their top 10 things that sailors need to know about traveling to their event:

1. Three words: current, current, current. Charleston’s tidal currents can be tricky, and even veteran Charleston racers don’t have them fully figured out. College of Charleston Sailing Team coach Mitch Hall will give a local knowledge debriefing at the Regatta Village Thursday evening before competition begins. For first time Race Week competitors, this is definitely a presentation to catch. And even if you’re a Race Week veteran, make sure you’re fully informed by checking out all the info available via event sponsor

2. Two more words: commercial traffic. Charleston is one of the nation’s busiest international ports, so make sure you keep an eye out for big ships coming and going, and do everything possible to avoid them. The main harbor channel runs right past the regatta headquarters at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, and all competitors racing on the offshore courses will have to transit the channel to and from their racecourses.

3. And two dreaded words for competitors: sail repair. If you get a tear in that kite or flog the main so badly a batten flaps out, who you gonna call? In Charleston, you’ve basically got three options. John Bowden, the local rep for Quantum Sails (a Race Week sponsor) and his staff at Charleston Sail Loft will be on call to assist you (843.754.9547). You can also rely on the Durst brothers Peter and George to help out. They run the local North Sails affiliate (843.744.7245). And the oldest sail loft in Charleston, Tripp Fellabom’s UK Sailmakers Charleston is right on the water at the Charleston City Marina (843.722.0823).

4. Culinary Capitol. Charleston’s restaurant scene can rival that of almost any major city in the U.S. From down home Low country cookin’ to highbrow haute cuisine, you’ll find nearly every flavor. And if you’ve never been here before, make sure you check out some of the local specialties, such as shrimp and grits, she crab soup, wreckfish, fried okra and field peas.

5. If you enjoy nightlife, don’t miss the happenings in downtown Charleston. Upper King Street has a swinging bar scene that doesn’t really get rockin’ until after 10. If you’re strolling around the peninsula at sunset, take advantage of the city’s rooftop bars for a view you won’t soon forget — and that includes Pavilion Bar (East Bay and Market St.), Stars Rooftop Bar (Upper King St.), and the Rooftop at the Vendue Inn (Vendue Range St.)

6. If you like beer — and what sailor doesn’t — Charleston’s got a handful of local breweries that are worth checking out in person, including Holy City, Coast, Workman’s, Southend, Freehouse, Palmetto, Frothy Beard, and Westbrook. And that doesn’t even include the tap houses, which are scattered around the area.

7. Top tier collegiate sailing. The College of Charleston’s varsity sailing team is a perennial powerhouse, boasting four overall national championships, six national sloop championships, five singlehanded national championships, two women’s national championships, four coed dinghy national championships, one team racing national championship and five squads that walked away with the Fowle Trophy for overall supremacy in college sailing. The sailing program is led by multiclass national, world and North American champion Greg Fisher.

8. Charleston Waterkeeper. Now in its seventh year, Charleston Waterkeeper is part environmental advocate and part watch dog, keeping a close eye on the water quality of Charleston Harbor and the surrounding watershed — and that’s great for anyone who sails, especially dinghy sailors. This nonprofit was founded by former sailing instructor Cyrus Buffum, who still takes a day off now and then to race.

9. Charleston Water Taxi. If you find yourself left behind by your crew and you don’t have a car, not to worry. The Charleston Water Taxi makes regular runs right from the regatta headquarters at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina across the harbor to two locations in downtown Charleston. The service makes round trips on the hour from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. And you can ride all day for just $10.

10. Abandonment Options. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally the wind gods refuse to cooperate and the race committees are forced to abandon the action. If that happens, don’t despair. You’ve got countless options for entertaining yourself onshore. Want to go bowling, check out The Alley in downtown Charleston. Prefer to ride the go carts, then head out to Blackbeard’s Cove on the outskirts of Mt. Pleasant. Or maybe the movies are more your style, and if so, the Cinebarre multiplex is just a few blocks from the regatta venue. The motto there is “eat, drink and watch movies.”

Report originally appeared in April 2015 issue of SpinSheet.

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