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New Champions Crowned After Tricky Finale At Sperry Charleston Race Week

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Charleston is known for its reliable spring seabreeze, but the Holy City’s coast outdid itself this year during the 22nd edition of Sperry Charleston Race Week. It wasn’t just the three race days either; from the first team’s arrival for practice more than a week earlier until the lengthy awards ceremony on Sunday night, reliable southerly winds buffeted the region, ensuring maximum racing, maximum action, and maximum enjoyment for the nearly 2,000 sailors, shore crew, staff, and volunteers that comprise this largest event of its kind in the Americas.

With a number of teams holding dominant leads going into the final day of competition, there may have been fewer last-ditch battles than in previous years. In fact, overall winners in a number of classes were more or less a fait accompli by Sunday morning. Teams that clinched their wins before the end of the regatta included Frickie Martschink and Bill McKenzie’s  RumFront  in the J/105 Class, Mike Ingham’s  USA 553  in the J/24 Class), Tony Langley’s TP52  Gladiator   in ORC Class A,Jerry Taylor’s Tangent  in ORC Class B, Steve Vincent’s B-25  Fully Involved  in ORC Class D, John Storck, Jr.’s  Rumor  in the J/80 Class, Laura Weyler’s  Hijinks  in the J/88 Class), Thomas Loutrel’s  Choppy Seas  in the Viper 640 Class, Mike Beasley’s GP 26 Rattle ‘n’ Rum  in ORC Class C, Steve Lesniak’s Beneteau 510  Celadon  in the Pursuit Spinnaker Class, and Wayne Burdick’s  Marion Maid  in the Pursuit Non-Spinnaker Class).

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Big Wind, Big Waves Excite Sailors At Day Two Of Sperry Charleston Race Week

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For a second straight day, Charleston Harbor and the open ocean just offshore provided near-perfect conditions for over 200 competing teams at Sperry Charleston Race Week 2017. Boats across all six courses faced brisk southerly winds of 15-20 knots, while the offshore boats saw five-foot waves and big gusts on the second day of the biggest multiclass keelboat regatta in the Americas.

There’s drama across all these highly competitive fleets, but nowhere more than in the Pursuit course today, where former Beneteau USA President Wayne Burdick leads the regatta with a group of longtime friends aboard his 18-year old Beneteau 411 Marion Maid despite being unable to locate the turning mark in their Saturday race. “Our Race Officer Frank Pontious was kind enough to provide us with his cell phone number, so we called Frank and suggested that maybe we round Rattlesnake as our mark, and he was fine with that. That saved the day!”

Burdick has been sailing with his crew for over 40 years, and he said their motto is “All Chiefs, no Indians” because they’ve each owned their own boats and no one wants to be the crew. “We’ve raced all over the world together, in the Med, in Bermuda, the Caribbean, and it’s a great group,” he said, adding that “now it looks like we have to stay pretty close to shore because at 66, I’m the youngest one of us.”

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New Rules And New Course Add Spice For Breezy Opening To Sperry Charleston Race Week

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It was a tale of two mornings for the more than 200 boats taking to the water today for the opening day of 2017 Sperry Charleston Race Week. Over 150 inshore boats on four circles inside Charleston’s world-famous harbor faced hot temperatures, flat water, and sedate wind of 4-6 knots on their first race. In the meantime, the 46 offshore and Pursuit class boats were battling steep, short seas of 3-5 feet offshore in a solid 12-16 knots of Southerly wind – perfect sailing conditions for the larger boats sailing outside the shelter of Charleston’s breakwater.

Charlestonian Eddie Evans, who has been a competitor at Race Week since its inception more than 20 years ago, was pleased with his team’s third-place finish in today’s breeze and lump, explaining that his Beneteau 381 Naut-on-Call “doesn’t have the waterline to stay with those bigger boats in these conditions.”

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Competitors and Sponsors Alike Pysched for Race Week


Sperry Charleston Race Week  2017 will start tomorrow morning, and everyone – from competitors, to VIPS and sponsors to fans and locals – is pumped that there's a perfect spring forecast for the 22nd edition of the biggest multiclass keelboat regatta in the Americas. With three days of 80+ degree weather, no rain, and reliable southerly breeze on tap for 16 classes of race boats, the cream should rise to the top when Sunday’s winners are announced.

If today’s practice races are any indication, the competition should be just as hot as the temperature; over 100 of the 212 registered teams spent the day practicing starts and maneuvers on Charleston Harbor, with over sixty J/70s practice-racing for hours. While Charleston is known for its serious parties, there’s little question that the racing is equally serious – at least for the top contenders here.

One of those top contenders is the reigning world champion in the biggest and toughest fleet in town, the J/70. Joel Ronning’s Catapult won a hard-fought battle to triumph over the world’s best last year in San Francisco, and he’s in Charleston with a crack crew to continue his dominance. Catapult tactician and National Sailing Hall of Famer John Kostecki may have only been to Charleston once before, but his ties to the city run deep. 

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