Sailors to go racing again at Charleston

Published on April 5th, 2021

While the party atmosphere that has always been synonymous with Charleston Race Week is not possible in 2021, the focus this year will be on the race course for one of the largest, most popular regattas in North America.

A total of 188 boats in 16 classes are entered for racing on April 9-11, back following a one-year layoff caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and finally able to celebrate its 25th anniversary in Charleston, SC.

“When you boil it all down, great racing is the main reason why Charleston Race Week has become such an iconic event,” observes event director Randy Draftz. “After all that has happened over the past year-plus, I think sailors just want to go racing again.

“We have been thrilled by the response from the national sailing community to the return of this great regatta and will be introducing several new features designed to enhance the racing experience.”

While COVID-19 continues to pose a threat throughout the world, social gatherings remain risky with state and local government officials advising against such activity. As a result, there will be no post-race events this year, but Charleston Race Week management is confident social-distancing, mask-wearing and handwashing will allow for a successful and safe three days of racing.

Melges 24 is the largest class of the regatta with 37 entries with 2019 Charleston Race Week champion Travis Weisleder and his Lucky Dog team leading the way. Also returning is Bruce Ayres, who skippered Monsoon to a runner-up result two years ago. Other perennially competitive boats include 3 ½ Men (Steve Suddath), Full Throttle (Brian Porter), Shaka (KC Shannon), and Decorum (Megan Ratliff)

J/70 is once again loaded with talent with many professionals spread among the 33 boats, including 2019 champion Joel Ronning and his Catapult crew. Buddy Cribb (Victory), Peter Duncan (Relative Obscurity), John Heaton (Empeiria), Nelson Mills (Columbia), and Michael Goldfarb (War Canoe) – all of whom finished Top 10 two years ago – are also back.

The VX One Class returns to Charleston Race Week in full force with Michelle Warner to defend her 2019 title aboard Tudo Bem and will once again be challenged by Christopher Alexander and his Counterproductive crew, which placed second at the last Charleston Race Week.

With 25 entrants, the VX One class will have Circle 1 inside Charleston Harbor all to itself, while the Melges 24s and J/70s will share Circle 2. Meanwhile, Circle 3 will consist of the J/88 and J/105 one-design classes along with ORC D.

Another large class is J/24, which has attracted 21 entries – double the number that attended Charleston Race Week 2019. They will race on Circle 4 along with the J/22 class, which consists almost entirely of junior teams.

As has been the case for many editions of Charleston Race Week, there will be pursuit racing out on the Atlantic Ocean. There will be three classes – Spinnaker A (11 boats), Spinnaker B (9 boats) and Non-Spinnaker – participating in the Pursuit Race on the Offshore Course.

Because of COVID-19, 2020 was a difficult year for sailboat racing with almost all regional, grand prix regattas getting canceled and many local events also falling by the wayside.

To help all participants get back up to speed quickly, Charleston Race Week will be providing Trac Trac devices that deliver live tracking using the latest technology. Trac Trac is an innovative analytical tool that records each boat’s performance and displays various metrics online in real time.

This marks the first time Charleston Race Week has implemented live tracking on all five courses. The Trac Trac device will be included in your registration packet along with an instruction sheet.

In addition to live tracking, Charleston Race Week will also introduce on-course observers to provide expert commentary and analysis. These seasoned professionals will offer interesting insights and observations about various aspects of racing.

Also, Quantum Sail Design Group will have its team of professionals on site to deliver daily weather briefings, discuss tactics and strategy or answers any other questions sailors might have.

Charleston Race Week will not require competitors to undergo COVID-19 testing. However, regatta organizers strongly encourage participants undergo PCR testing prior to arrival.

Additionally, regatta management is asking all sailors to fill out a personal information form that will be used exclusively for contact tracing purposes in the event of a reported positive test. There will also be daily health questionnaire as the management team performs its due diligence to ensure there is no outbreak.

Event informationRace detailsEntry list

Source: Bill Wagner, Scuttlebutt

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