CHARLESTON – Last Friday, Charleston-based racing yachts finished with some of the most impressive scores in the entire fleet at 2008 Key West Race Week. In PHRF 2, Will Hanckel helmed his J/120
“Emocean” to 7 straight first-place finishes in 8 races to win his class by 13 points, while Robert Hibdon’s SR-33 “Temptress” scored 7 bullets to handily win the PHRF 3 class. “We’re a crew of ex-college sailors who all grew up racing against each other, and our communication level is near-perfect on board,” Hanckel explained. “We sailed fast in Key West, though we were a little surprised to have had so many top finishes. We’re really looking forward to Charleston Race Week, where we know the competition will be at least as strong as we saw in Florida.”
The crew of “Temptress” echoed Hanckel’s thoughts. “While Key West presents significant challenges to all handicap racers, Charleston Race Week is, mathematically, a tougher regatta to win,” said Henry McCray, tactician aboard the winning SR-33 and 7-time Fireball North American and National
Champion. “The fleet splits in Charleston ensure that PHRF racers compete against somewhat more diverse designs and larger fleets than we see at any other winter event.” With 96 boats entered as of this morning, a record 40 of them newcomers to Charleston Race Week, 2008 should see some of the most competitive PHRF racing ever, with great prizes, including valuable Raymarine electronics, awarded to top performers.
STRONG ONE-DESIGN PRESENCE EXPECTED
Once again, one-design classes will produce great action, both inside the harbor and on the ocean courses. The Viper 640 sportboat will race its first-ever Charleston event as a one-design class, and with an astonishing 11 boats already registered, racing should be very tight in this hot class. J/105, J/80, and J/24 teams continue to show their appreciation for Charleston’s main event with strong registration numbers for these one-designs for 2008. With the Melges 24 US National Championship set to return to Charleston waters in September, these sportboat racers are taking advantage of Charleston Race Week to hone their skills in preparation for one of the biggest events on their annual calendar. The harbor course presents some of the most challenging conditions of any venue in the US, and local knowledge is at a premium. “We’ve got incredibly diverse conditions,” said Ward Cromwell, former college All-American and head coach of the College of Charleston’s high-ranked sailing team. “Frontal systems and sea breeze create lots of shifts, while current lines and eddies make tactical
decisions especially important.” Cromwell also commented on the College of Charleston’s influence on local sailing: “Many of our out-of-state students stay in Charleston after graduation, and quite a few C of C Alumni move into yacht racing,” he said. “This helps raise the overall level of Charleston-area racing teams.”
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