Creating that buzz for after racing

Published on April 11th, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
Regattas offer us that occasional test of skill, with the most skilled enjoying the sweet taste of the front of the fleet, and the trophy winners gaining the extra boost of ego nourishment. There are the haves, and the have nots.

But the best regattas offer more than just racing. They deliver that inviting atmosphere onshore where competitors can tell lies about the day and otherwise enjoy a social environment. It is where we come together, away from the pecking order.

For the second year running, Charleston Race Week (April 13-15) has organized entertainment after racing on Saturday in the hopes of filling that time slot from docking to dinner. The vision last year was to gather up some of the notable skippers, put them on J/22s, and have some races within sight of the cocktail gripping crowd and allow the heckling to ensue. The Pro-Am Regatta was born.

Apparently it worked well enough that it is on again this year, with America’s Cup winning skipper Ed Baird doing play-by-play and the races live streamed on a Jumbotron in the Regatta Village. Not unlike a baseball game, where cups are filled and bladders emptied between innings, spectating will require strategy during this series of short races.

New this year is how each boat will have two high school aged crew, providing them valued exposure to the approach of seasoned sailors, or at least learn how cuss words contribute to competitiveness. Also onboard will be a student from the College of Charleston to ensure these “expert” sailors don’t screw up the school’s boats.

For the skippers, it’s an opportunity to give back to the sport, but with the risk that racing with a pick-up team, in an unfamiliar boat, could lead to poor finishes and reputation scars. Nobody wants to get last, which was the fate of Allan Terhune in 2017.

For someone who has notched up eleven continental championships (in the Lightning, Flying Scot and Thistle Classes) and was crowned the 2013 J/22 World Champion, getting DFL for Allan was unfamiliar territory.

But he’s returning to make amends in 2018, and he just needs to beat one person to pass on the baton. In his way will be Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Steve Benjamin, US Sailing President Bruce Burton, Rio 2016 Olympian Paris Henken, multiple World Champion Steve Hunt, J/Boat expert Travis Odenbach, the king of Gill North America David Pritchard, and defending champion Christophe Killian from the College of Charleston sailing team.

And one more… me.

The event did not award Allan with his rightfully earned perpetual, so I am going to source a memento for the last placed skipper this year…just in case.

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