Saturday, April 16, 2016

Charleston Race Week Preview

J/88 sailing Charleston (Charleston, SC)- As you reflect back on the humble beginnings of Charleston Race Week (CRW) back in 1969, no one could ever imagine that summertime regatta back then would become one of the largest regattas in the USA.  Various “race weeks” held that title for a while, such as Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week or even Key West Race Week at its peak.  Nevertheless, when the organizers of CRW changed the date to a late spring event to capture both offshore and one-design sailors moving their boats back north for the summer that it would ever become what it is today.

The 2016 edition of CRW will see teams participating from at least fifteen states and several nations in the 257-boat fleet, of which 136 are J/Teams (53% of the total!).  The rapid ascension of the J/70 class from zero to a 100mph in this particular event is startling.  The very first year the class was invited in 2013, the J/70 immediately eclipsed all other one-design classes before it as the largest class on the water with 55 boats.

As for how things are looking for each one of the J classes, here’s a quick breakdown of what could be taking place over the three-day event that has a very windy forecast for all three days- basically a northeaster with 10-30 kt winds!

J/70 sailing CharlestonLike the two previous regattas, the seventy-six boat J/70 fleet will be split into four “flights” in order to have a manageable starting line along the sandy southern shore of the harbor.  Many top teams from past CRW’s will be in attendance and hoping their “local knowledge” will again help them in the powerful currents and shifty winds inside the harbor.  Last year’s winner, Julia Fernandez will be back again with FLOJITO Y COOPERANDO. They will be chased hard by teams like Jack Franco’s 3 BALL JT from Houston, TX; Doug Strebel’s BLACK RIVER RACING from Dallas, TX, Joel Ronning’s CATAPULT from Wayzata, MN, Rob Britts’ HOT MESS from St Petersburg, FL, Dan & Gannon Troutman’s PIED PIPER from Fishing Bay, VA, Marty Mckenna’s RARITY from Youngstown, NY, Tom Bowen’s REACH AROUND from Annapolis, MD, John Brim’s RIMETTE from Fishers Island, NY, Brian Keane’s SAVASANA from Beverly, MA, Will Welles’ SCAMP from Newport, RI, Bruno Pasquinelli’s STAMPEDE from Fort Worth, TX, and John Baxter’s TEAM VINEYARD VINES from Riverside, CT.

The foreign J/70 teams are beginning to ramp up their efforts for practice prior to the J/70 World Championship in San Francisco, CA this September.  In addition to the FLOJITO crew from Mexico, the Chilean J/70 National Champion will be sailing their first American event, Per Von Appen on BLACK SAILS with his crew from Santiago, Chile.  The Brazilians will be well represented with 4-time J/24 World Champion Mauricio Santa Cruz and his crew from Rio de Janeiro on BRUSCHETTA.  Others include Chuck Millican’s ELUSIVE from Bermuda; Eivind Astrup’s NORWEGIAN STEAM from Oslo, Norway; and Peter Cunningham’s POWERPLAY RACING from Cayman Islands Sailing Club.  The Canadian teams include Kim Gibson on CAN 610 from Fredericton, New Brunswick; Allan McKearney on JOYRIDIN’ from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and Rich Jones’s MAVERICK from Royal Hamilton YC in Ontario.

The Corinthians J/70 division has a number of good crews in their thirteen-boat fleet with teams like B-SQUARED (brothers Elliott), 20/20 (John Arendshorst), HOT MESS (Rob Britts); GEMINI (Blane Shea); and INSTANT KARMA (David Betts).

Six J/22s will on the same racecourse as the J/24s and J/80s right off the beautiful Charleston city waterfront.  There are a few ringers in the mix, including Taylor Lutz from Lakewood YC in Houston, TX sailing SYZGY.  Dan Reasoner is back with his crew from Nockamixon Sailing Club on LOS TRES BIGOTES and the WARRIOR SAILNG TEAM is fielding a team led by Sammy Lugo!

J/24s at CharlestonNineteen J/24s will have their hands full taking on class leader Carter White from Portland, Maine sailing his SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM.  Eleven of those teams are all from the greater Charleston region, including Mike Palazzo’s JO MAMMA, Dan Rogge’s MATADORA and Tommy Smith’s PUFF DADDY.  Others in the hunt should be Chris Sheldon’s INVICTUS from Newport, RI, Aidan Glackin’s MENTAL FLOSS from Lloyd Harbor, NY and Chris Stone’s VELOCIDAD.

Twelve J/80s are sailing this year and it’s a nice fleet, with both new faces and veterans of the class looking forward to a spring-time dash around the cans.  A large contingent of Annapolis and Chesapeake Bay sailors will surely put their stamp on the regatta, with familiar names like Ken Mangano’s MANGO, Chris Johnson’s DRAGONFLY and Vince Kalish’s WHITE LIGHTNIN.  The Boston/ Buzzards Bay group is also well-represented with Jack Gierhart’s AIGER, Greg Packard’s PLAN B and Tom Denny’s WARRIOR.  Now living in San Francisco Bay, but a veteran of the J/80 battles in Key West and major events is Gary Panariello’s COURAGEOUS (note- they were Key West Race Week ORC Class winners against a fleet of new Farr 280s!!).

J/111 sailing CharlestonOffshore PHRF handicap and one-design racing will be taking place on either side (north and south) of the Charleston Harbor entrance channel.  In the six boat J/111 class, there are several World’s level teams that will make the fight for the top three a tough one and promises very close racing.  Four of the top five from Key West Race Week are sailing, including the winner Peter Wagner’s SKELETON KEY from San Francisco, Rob Ruhlman’s SPACEMAN SPIFF from Cleveland, Bill Smith’s WOOTON from Bay Harbor, and Marty Roesch’s VELOCITY from Annapolis.

Four of the six J/88s racing Charleston all had great racing in Key West, too.  The top two teams there are sailing- Mike Bruno’s WINGS from American YC and Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION from Huguenot YC.  The 2015 J/88 winner at Key West, Rob Butler’s TOUCH2PLAY RACING from Collingwood, Ontario, is determined to crack one of the top slots on the podium as well two other teams with updated programs- Doug McKeige’s JAZZ from American YC and Joe & Jeff Pawlowski’s EASY EIGHTS from Youngstown YC.

Another amazing duel is about to take place in the world of PHRF A handicap racing.  Though there are seven boats in their division, don’t be surprised to see past CRW winner, Robin Team’s J/122 TEAMWORK be engaged in a fight to the finish at the top of the leaderboard with a sistership- Paul Milo’s Annapolis-Newport race-winning ORION from Virginia.

The twelve-boat PHRF B class is a hard one to figure out; particularly since the ratings appear fair and it is truly anyone’s guess of the final outcome.  Seven J/Teams that cover the range of J/Boats history are partaking.  For starters, there is Willy Schwenzfeier’s J/35 ARROW, a boat that will love the heavy air forecast for the weekend.  Then, there are two J/120s that will also enjoy the big breeze- John Keenan’s ILLYRIA and Rick Moore’s MOOSE DOWN.  Also looking forward to fresh conditions are three J/105s- Bob Scribner’s JOYRIDE, Fred Martschink’s RUMFRONT and Miles Martschink’s SKIMMER.  However, hoping for the light to moderate part of the range will be Mark DeLoach’s J/36 SOUL!

For the unfortunate souls in the five boat PHRF D class, they will have to face, yet again, the almighty J/29 MIGHTY PUFFIN, Steve Thurston’s incredibly fast crew from Bristol, RI.

Finally, there is a very fun Pursuit Race that takes place on Saturday morning.  It’s more like a Charleston Harbor cruise where you get to see all the sites along the famous historical coastline- like Fort Sumter- notable for the “shot heard round the world” that started America’s infamous Civil War! In the six boat Spin 1 Division are the J/120 EMOCEAN (Bill Hanckel, the J/40 RAGTIME (Jim Little), and the J/130 SCEPTRE (Bob Musor).  The nine boat Spin 2 Division has the
J/27 AUDACIOUS (Robert Key).  And, the massive eighteen-boat Non-Spin division will have to contend with the J/30 LAS BRISAS (Mark Swatta).  For more Charleston Race Week sailing information