Harken Derm

Cats coming to Charleston Race Week

Published on March 7th, 2019

High-performance catamarans will be racing around Charleston Harbor next month as the M32 Class makes their debut at the 24th edition of Sperry Charleston Race Week in Charleston, South Carolina. After class organizers brought two of the high-speed catamarans to last year’s regatta to assess the logistics, they confirmed the green light for the 2019 event on April 12-14.

“Charleston checks so many of the boxes we look for in venues – nice conditions, easy logistics, a fun city with great night life and a rocking beach party!” said Dave Doucett, Director of M32 North America. “We had a blast with our test racing last year and are looking forward now to bringing a strong fleet and enjoying some exciting racing in a beautiful locale.”

The M32 is an owner-driver class that features numerous top professionals as crew because these boats “are always pushing the boundaries,” according to Doucett. Individual races tend to last less than 20 minutes and plans call for completing eight or more starts per day in Charleston.

Current Corinthian World Champion led by skipper Rick DeVos headlines a fleet of 10 boats from Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, and the USA. Other top teams include Bliksem (Peter Taselaar) and Convexity (Don Wilson). There will be a hometown entry as Charleston residents Hunter Stunzi and Ed Norton will lead Team Torrent.

With a total of over 200 boats currently entered, all the elements that have made Sperry Charleston Race Week so popular remain in place. However, event director Randy Draftz and his team continue to build on the basic template to enhance the event and every year brings further improvements.

To accommodate the desires of offshore boats, regatta organizers have created a new course called “Hybrid Pursuit.” This course will replace offshore Circle Five and be open to cruiser-racers using ORC and one-design with up to three individual races per day as conditions allow.

By game time at least 250 boats in 17 classes are expected to compete in the three-day regatta, which combines one-design and handicap racing along with inshore and offshore courses.

Among the returning champions are the top two award winners from 2018. Skipper Peter Duncan and his Relative Obscurity team will be back to defend the Charleston Race Week Cup after capturing the highly-competitive J/70 class last year.

That prestigious perpetual trophy is presented for the best overall performance by a one-design entry. Winner of J/70 class, which already has 43 entries, will certainly contend for the Charleston Race Week Cup as racing figures to be fierce.

“It’s just a wonderful event with really great competition. It was terrific to sail in this venue for the first time,” Duncan said. “Charleston is very tricky with lots of shifts, lots of current. I just think it’s a really well-run event and it was a pleasure to participate.”

Meanwhile, skipper Mike Beasley and the Rattle-N-Rum team will be seeking to claim the Palmetto Trophy for third straight year. That is awarded to winner of the tightest class among handicap divisions. Beasley’s GP 26 is one of 10 current entries in ORC, consisting of a wide variety of speedy sport-boats.

“Winning the Palmetto Trophy two years in a row was definitely a highlight of my racing career, but history is history and we have to look forward and not rest on our laurels,” Beasley said. “As in previous years, the competition is going to be hotter than ever and we are looking forward to competing against a very talent-laden sport-boat class.”

For the third straight year, the popular Pro-Am regatta will be held on Saturday night aboard J/22 sloops donated by College of Charleston. Racing will be held off A Dock at the south end of the marina with Shirley Robertson providing commentary to a live stream of the action on the Jumbotron. North Sails professional Allan Terhune is defending champion of the Pro-Am Regatta, which will feature two local high school sailors serving as crew members aboard each boat.

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Source: Bill Wagner

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