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Thread: Let The Sailing Commence: CRW Finally Gets Under Way

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    Let The Sailing Commence: CRW Finally Gets Under Way



    Day One on Charleston Harbor
    1sby Bill Wagner

    CHARLESTON, S.C. – There is no more picturesque sight than Charleston Harbor during the annual regatta that has brought international recognition to this historic city.

    A fleet of almost 260 sailboats in 18 different classes take over almost every inch of the Cooper River and it truly is a sight to behold. With seven different race courses set in various pockets of the harbor, a spectator viewing from land can see colorful billowing sails everywhere they look.

    Sperry Charleston Race Week 2019 got off to a rip roaring start with south-southeasterly winds ranging from 10 to 20 knots allowing organizers to complete four races for most of the classes doing windward-leeward courses.

    “It was an absolutely beautiful day on the water, a great day for racing,” said George Collins, who skippered Chessie Racing to victory in Spinnaker PHRF A class that completed a 17-nautical mile Pursuit Race. “You can’t beat the conditions, which were perfect for our boat. We have a great crew and they had the boat sailing very fast.”







    Chessie Racing, a Tripp 62, is the highest-rated boat in Spinnaker PHRF A and therefore started last. Collins, a Miami resident, had two Wounded Warriors aboard along with his usual professional crew. Collins said Chessie completed the race in almost three hours even and wound up overtaking the J/120 Emocean on the leg back into the harbor for the finish.

    There was some great action on the inside courses with the wind shifting wildly at times and a short squall wreaking some havoc then causing conditions to change significantly.

    Class newcomer Buddy Cribb sailed Victory into the early lead in J/70 class, largest of the regatta with 56 boats. Barr Batzer was aboard as tactician while Scott Ewing (headsail trimmer) and Chris Manson-Hing (bow) completed the crew as Victory posted a solid score line of 1-3-4.

    “We got good starts, we went the right way and we went fast. We also didn’t do anything too risky,” said Cribb, a resident of Jupiter, Florida.

    Cribb has been sailing in the Etchells class for 15 years and suddenly decided to “give something different a try.” The Coral Reef Yacht Club member has about nine regattas under his belt and has clearly climbed the learning curve quite quickly.

    J/70 class leaders have requested just three races per day and Victory holds a two-point lead over Joel Ronning and the Catapult team going into Saturday’s action.

    “This is a really tough fleet so we’ll see if we can keep it going,” said Cribb, whose last appearance at Sperry Charleston Race Week came about eight years ago with the Etchells.









    There is a fleet of 37 Melges 24s on Circle 3 and class veteran Bruce Ayres set the pace on Day 1 – winning two races and placing second in another in posting nine points. Mike Buckley is calling tactics on Monsoon, which is three points clear of Lucky Dog, the Gill Race Team led by skipper Travis Weisleder.

    4s“Charleston is always a very tricky spot to sail. When the ocean breeze comes in and the wind shifts back-and-forth and the tides are swirling, it’s tough,” said Ayres, a Newport Beach, California resident. “We got two good starts and two not-so-good starts. When you can get off the line and go in the right direction it definitely helps.”

    Ayres has sailed Monsoon to victory in Melges 24 class three previous times at Sperry Charleston Race Week, which is now in its 24th edition. “We had a decent day to start off, but there’s a long way to go and anything can happen at Charleston Race Week,” he said.

    VX One, with 30 entries, is the largest class on Circle 1 and the 19-foot speedsters were buzzing around the Cooper River at high speeds. Reigning North American champion Chris Alexander and his crew on Counterproductive showed on opening day they will be tough to beat, winning three of four races.

    James Roe is serving as forward trimmer while Jack McKenzie, a 15-year-old Charleston junior sailor, is working the middle for Alexander, runner-up here last year. John Potter and David Guggenheim, the two-time defending champions at Sperry Charleston Race Week, had to pull out of the regatta at the last minute due to pressing business commitments.

    “I wish those guys were here because I enjoy sailing against them,” said Alexander, who hails from Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Alexander loosened up the rig prior to the fourth race because the squall that came through caused the wind to lighten. However, the breeze built back up into the mid-to-high teens during the race. Former College of Charleston All-American Reed Baldridge is steering Tudo Bem, the entry led by skipper Michelle Warner that is one point behind Counterproductive.

    “We were just faster than everyone to be honest. We had superior boat speed the first three races,” said Alexander, who hit 17 ˝ knots of boat speed during a downwind leg of Race 2. “We had four perfect starts and were super-fast upwind.”








    RS 21 class is making its debut at Charleston Race Week with a healthy fleet of eight boats. Chicago resident Amy Baxter steered Team Sail22 to an outstanding opening day, winning three races and placing third in the other.

    Jake Sorosky is handling the bow and calling tactics for Baxter while Kevin Coughlin (jib), Danny Lawless (bow) complete the crew. Baxter, who normally races a Vanguard 15, is learning the RS 21 just like everyone else in the fledgling class.

    “We’re all in the same boat so to speak as far as experience,” she said. “It’s an easy boat to sail, super stable. All credit to my crew, which did a fantastic job of getting around the course.”

    Mike Bruno has been bringing Wings to Sperry Charleston Race Week for several years and has never come away victorious – not even a runner-up finish. The Armonk, New York native is hoping his team’s success on Friday is a good omen as Wings began the regatta with results of 2-2-1 before a blown-out spinnaker led to a fifth in Race 4.

    “We had really good starts and really good boat speed,” Bruno said. “This boat tends to be quicker in a breeze so we were glad to see the velocity increase as the day went along.”

    Bruno said Wings was overlapped with Exile and Spaceman Spiff at the finish of the two races it placed second. “For some reasons I’ve been jinxed in this regatta. Hopefully, things will finally come together this year,” he said.







    Warrior Sailing 1, skippered by Sammy Hodges, grabbed the early lead in J/22 class after winning two races and placing second in two others. Navy veteran Ruben Munoz (jib) and Army veteran Troy Rassmussen (main) are the warriors aboard the boat.

    “This is my first time competing here at Charleston and it was really cool out there,” Munoz said. “We worked really well together as a team, which was great to see.”

    College of Charleston sailor Carson Shields worked the bow aboard Warrior Sailing 1, which benefitted from doing two practice sessions on Thursday. “I’m so impressed with the improvement Ruben and Troy made in the span of just one day on the boat,” Hodges said.

    A nine-boat ORC C class comprised of sport-boats is once again producing extremely close racing. In Race 1, Peter Toombs from Prince Edward Island, Canada steered his Farr 30 HeadFirst3 to a narrow three-second victory over Annapolis-based Jonathan Pollack on his FarEast 28R Monkey Business after 40 minutes of racing

    Two-time defending class champ and Palmetto Trophy winner Mike Beasley leads ORC C by one point over HeadFirst 3 after four races. Beasley steered Rattle-n-Rum closed the day with consecutive wins to move into the lead.

    On the offshore Hybrid Pursuit classes, the ORC Class A, B and C entries had a light start to the day – taking more than three hours to complete the 7.4-mile out-bound course due to the flood current and light air under eight knots.

    Despite the light air and challenging conditions, the Pursuit Race concept seemed to work across the wide variety of boat types in this division – ranging from Victor Wild’s speedy TP52 Fox to Miles Martschink’s J/105 – because the racing in corrected time was also close with the top eight places in Race 1 within one minute.





    Robin Team, a multi-time Palmetto Trophy winner, led the J/122 Teamwork to victory in both races on Friday. Team said the return race into Charleston Harbor, which began with a fleet start, was approximately 9 ˝ miles due to a windward jaunt to a drop mark.

    “We’re primarily accustomed to doing windward-leeward courses around the buoys so this point-to-point racing was a little different for us,” Team said.

    Team credited tactician Jonathan Bartlett with making some “extraordinary calls” during the Pursuit Race into the Atlantic Ocean. “That, coupled with Kevin Ryman’s great navigation, gave us a leg up on the race out,” said Team, who praised his brother Adam for doing an “incredible job” of trimming the spinnaker during the race back into the harbor, which was primarily a downwind affair.



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    A Breezy Conclusion To Charleston Race Week



    Sperry Charleston Race Week concluded in spectacular fashion with strong winds producing exciting action and several classes being decided during the last race.

    VX One, J/88, Viper 640, Melges 24 and ORC C were the windward-leeward classes that went down to the wire. Winners for five of the six Pursuit Hybrid and Pursuit Race, which were unable to complete any racing on Saturday, were also determined on Sunday. Mike Bruno said following Friday’s racing that he’s been jinxed at Sperry Charleston Race Week, suffering problems that prevented podium finishes in 2018 and 2017. The Armonk, New York resident thought his bad luck would be extended when Wings was ruled on-course-side in Race 9 and had to restart.

    “We came into the day saying we were going to be conservative and not make any mistakes then we got tangled up with another boat at the start and right out of the gate we were over early,” said Bruno, who did manage to battle back to finish sixth in the 10-boat fleet. “We were pretty glum going into the last race. I thought we’d blown it again.”

    However, there was a happy ending as Wings redeemed itself big-time in Race 10, which was held in 20-22 knot south-southwesterly winds with gusts approaching 30. Wings rounded the first weather mark in sixth then moved up a couple places by the downwind rounding. Bruno and crew turned it on from there, passing the remaining three boats to get the gun.

    That victory in the final start of the three-day regatta gave Wings a two-point victory over Albondigas (Justin Scagnelli, West Nyack, NY), leading Bruno to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

    “What an exciting way to win a regatta. To come from behind like that was thrilling and I feel fantastic,” Bruno said. “We’re pretty darn good in heavy air so we were really happy when the breeze really came on for that last race. It was really exhilarating blasting downwind in planning mode and passing boat after boat.”

    Bruno noted the average age of his crew is 60 with bow man Jonathan Asch checking in at 66. Stuart Johnstone called tactics, Chris Morgan trimmed the main while Steve Lopez and Tim Randall teamed to trim the headsails aboard Wings.












    Skipper Travis Weisleder and his Lucky Dog/Gill Race Team rallied to victory in Melges 24 class, which attracted 37 entries. Anthony Kotoun called tactics for Weisleder, who steered Lucky Dog to first place in Race 10 to move into a tie with Monsoon.

    Monsoon, skippered by Bruce Ayres of Newport Beach, California, was the Day 1 and Day 2 leader, but could not close things out after finishing fifth in the final race.

    “We had to win the race and put four boats between us and that’s exactly what happened,” Weisleder said. “We led that last race from start to finish. We got off the line great, went left to find clear air then used our boat speed to climb away and extend. What an awesome way to finish things off.”

    Weisleder, a marketing director for several car dealerships in Richmond, Virginia, has been sailing with headsail trimmer John Bowden for eight years. However, this was the first time Kotoun had been aboard while Jane Buckley was a fill-in on the foredeck. Caroline Main (floater) completed the revamped crew, which came together quickly.

    “Anthony did a good job of putting us in the right positions and we’ve been really, really fast all week – both up and down,” said Weisleder, a former College of Charleston sailor who has been racing in the Melges 24 class since 2000.

    The Bay Head Yacht Club member has missed just four of the 24 Sperry Charleston Race Weeks held to date and last captured Melges 24 class in 2008. This year’s edition will be memorable for Weisleder, who received the Charleston Race Week Cup, presented for best overall performance by a one-design entry.

    “This is a tremendous honor and we’re very, very proud,” said Bowden after accepting the perpetual trophy on behalf of Lucky Dog/Gill Race Team, which had a black flag penalty overturned during a redress hearing. “It’s been a real roller coaster of a regatta and that makes this award even more rewarding.”

    Teamwork, a J/122 owned by Robin Team of Lexington, North Carolina, earned the Palmetto Trophy for the fifth time at Sperry Charleston Race Week. Jonathan Bartlett called tactics on Teamwork, which won all six races in ORC B class on the Hybrid Pursuit course.

    “We’ve been coming to Charleston for a long time and we absolutely love this regatta,” said Team, whose previous Palmetto Trophy wins were as top PHRF entry. Now Teamwork has another one for the shelf for best performance among ORC entries after duking it out with the J/111 Sitella (Ian Hill, Chesapeake, VA).

    final2 s“We had a great time mixing it up with Sitella, which is always well-sailed,” Team said. “We had the boat well-prepped and dialed in from the beginning while our crew work was incredible once again.”











    and dialed in from the beginning while our crew work was incredible once again.”

    Mike Beasley and his team on Rattle-n-Rum was the two-time defending champion of ORC C, a class comprised of a nice mixture of sport boat designs. However, the Annapolis entry found itself sitting in second place behind the Farr 30 HeadFirst3 going into the last day.

    Beasley’s GP26 performs extremely well in high winds and posted a pair of bullets on Sunday to force a tiebreaker with HeadFirst3, a Canadian entry skippered by Peter Toombs. Rattle-n-Rum won two more races than the Farr 30 and is now a three-time champion as a result.

    “It was challenging from the get-go because the Farr 30 had an outstanding sailing team,” Beasley said. “It is so much more rewarding when you are pushed to the limit and have to win a regatta on a count back.”

    Joe Gibson served as tactician aboard Rattle-n-Rum, which trailed HeadFirst3 by two points after two days of racing. Teddy Haaland (bow), Joanna Haaland (runners), Matt Weimer (main) and Ryan Rutkowski (floater) made up the rest of the team.

    “We knew what we had to do today and decided to be very conservative and let the boat do its stuff,” Beasley said. “We didn’t engage the Farr 30, we didn’t wipe out, we hiked as hard as we ever had and we knew how to sail the boat in that type of breeze.”

    Tudo Bem and Counterproductive traded the lead back-and-forth in VX One, which had 30 boats. Class newcomer Michelle Warner and her Tudo Bem team pulled somewhat of an upset by beating reigning North American champion Chris Alexander and the Counterproductive crew by a point.

    Former College of Charleston All-American Reed Baldridge steered Tudo Bem, which finished fourth in the final race to overtake Counterproductive after Alexander absorbed an eighth.

    “This class is extremely challenging with some amazing sailors,” Warner said. “Some of it was luck, but a lot of it was great crew work.”

    Austin Powers was the third member of the Tudo Bem team, which was racing a chartered boat. After winning her first regatta, Warner is seriously considering buying a VX One. “We’re definitely coming back next year and hopefully I’ll be sailing my own boat,” she said.

    Kevin McCarthy skippered Chance V to a one-point victory over NESS in Viper 640 class. The Fort Lauderdale resident had Steve Flam as tactician and Mike Pentacost, another Viper 640 owner, in the forward position.

    “I had a great crew and we had the boat tuned up very well. Mike and Steve paid a lot of attention to detail in terms of rig tune and setup,” McCarthy said. “It’s all about teamwork and it is very comforting to go sailing with such good people.”

    McCarthy made his Viper 640 at the Bacardi Cup, but lasted just one race due to a breakdown. He previously raced in the Melges 24 and Flying Dutchman classes.

    Joel Ronning and his Catapult crew secured a surprisingly convincing victory in J/70 class, largest of the regatta with 56 boats. Victor Diaz De Leon served as tactician on Catapult, which won six of nine races in posting a low score of 20 points – 20 better than runner-up Rosebud (Pamela Rose, Aventura, FL).

    “We had some really fortunate breaks this week. There is nothing like having luck on your side

    Sometimes the karma is with you and this is one of those instances,” said Ronning, a resident of Excelsior, Minnesota. “I’ve always loved sailing in Charleston and this year’s regatta was an awful lot of fun.”

    Diaz De Leon joined the team about six months ago and Ronning has been impressed by the way he’s blended in with holdovers Christopher Stocke (bow) and Patrick Wilson (headsail trimmer).

    “Our team communication is the strongest I’ve ever seen on a boat. We’ve been clicking really well together and the chemistry is the best it’s ever been on the boat,” Ronning said. “Victor was getting great information from Chris and Patrick and was really on fire this week in terms of making the calls.”

    Carter White skippered YouRegatta to the most dominant victory of 2019 Sperry Charleston Race Week, winning seven straight races in J/24 class after placing second in Friday’s opener. YouRegatta did not start Race 9 and still finished 12 points clear of Level Pelican (Crisp McDonald (Charleston, S.C.).

    Molly White worked the bow for her husband, who has been racing a J/24 for more than two decades. Michael McAllister called tactics, Ted Wiedeke trimmed the spinnaker while Chris Lombardo trimmed the genoa.

    “It’s really about our team. We’ve been sailing together for four years and do five to six major regattas a year,” said White, who hails from Portland, Maine. “We have a routine that really works and puts us in a different league. Our consistency and ability to adapt to changing conditions is crucial. We had to shift gears constantly and our crew is capable of doing that.”

    Shenanigans came away as winner of J/80 class following a tight three-way battle with fellow Annapolis entry Eleven (Bert Carp). Shannon Lockwood steered while her father Bill trimmed the main. Jeff Todd handled headsails while his daughter Cassie worked the bow.

    “We had a great battle with Bert, who we race against on Thursday nights in Annapolis,” said Shannon Lockwood, who was a member of the keelboat team at St. Mary’s College. “I thought our team handled the boat well and paid attention to the puffy and shifty conditions. We were also conservative and smart with our maneuvers. It’s always cool to win, especially at such a major regatta like Charleston so we’re super psyched.”












    The high-performance M32 catamarans made a spectacular debut at Sperry Charleston Race Week, thrilling spectators by zipping around Charleston Harbor at high speeds. These amazing machines completed 13 races in just two days with Don Wilson skippering Convexity to a commanding 16-point victory on the strength of six bullets.

    “We had eight teams here and they all had a fantastic time. We’re looking forward to coming back next year,” said Dave Doucet, Director of M32 North America. “We wanted to sail in close proximity of Patriots Point the first couple days to give the spectators a show. We sailed off Fort Sumter today and had big breeze with flat water, which these boats love. Charleston is a great location and it was really fun to race here.”

    Amy Baxter completed a wire-to-wire win in RS 21 class, which also made its debut at Sperry Charleston Race Week. The Chicago resident won seven of nine races while taking third in the other two in totaling 10 points, 14 better than Zim Sailing (Bob Adam, Bristol, RI). Jake Sorosky (tactician), Kevin Coughlin (jib) and Danny Lawless (bow) crewed for Baxter.

    Warrior Sailing 1, skippered by Sammy Hodges, led from start to finish in J/22 class – winning five races and having the luxury of skipping the last. Navy veteran Ruben Munoz (jib) and Army veteran Troy Rassmussen (main) were the warriors aboard the boat. “Tiger Woods won the Masters today, but that doesn’t even compare to what we did,” Munoz said proudly. “We came here to have fun and learn so winning is icing on the cake.”

    This was the first sailing experience for Rassmussen, who gave credit to Hodges for helming and coaching at the same time. “Sammy was awesome about keeping us on point and teaching all the little nuances,” he said.

    Finally on the last day of competition the wind gods permitted the ORC Hybrid Pursuit entries to enjoy the intended three-race daily format: a morning pursuit distance race from the harbor to the offshore course area, followed by a windward-leeward buoy race, and ending with another distance race to the harbor.

    “This Hybrid Pursuit style was well received by all the boats and we enjoyed it,” Team said.

    Principal race officer added a second windward-leeward race to make up for the fact Saturday’s Hybrid Pursuit was abandoned. ORC D was won by Skimmer, a locally-based J/105 team led by Miles Martschink and Ben Hagood.

    “This was our first experience with ORC racing,” said Tucker, “and with some more measurements we probably could have optimized our rating a little better. Yet on the whole we thought the ratings were fair.”

    A pair of Charleston entries came out on top on the regular Pursuit Race courses with Wadmalaw Island resident Bill Hanckel skippering Emocean to a two-point victory in Spinnaker PHRF A and John Springer leading Direction to first place in PHRF Non-Spinnaker by tiebreaker over fellow Mount Pleasant resident Mark Fanning on the Sabre 452 Sea Biscuit.

    “We came out and sailed our best race with the regatta on the line. We know our competition, know how to sail inside the harbor and offshore and we fought hard,” said Caroline Baity, main trimmer aboard Direction, a 47-year-old design known as a 30/2.



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    56 J 70's is a lot of J 70's

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