While regattas around the world suffer significant drops in participation, the organizers of Charleston Race Week are proud to announce that the April, 2009 running of this southern classic has already set an attendance record of 157 registered teams.
“We’re incredibly happy to see the racing community recognize the value that Charleston Race Week provides for them,” said Event Director and Round-The-World racer Brad Van Liew. “We have the privilege of hosting this regatta in one of the best towns in the United States, with near-perfect sailing conditions at this time of year.”
With just under 8 weeks until this marquis event, organizers expect up to 175 racing teams to compete on four circles. The smaller boats will compete on two courses inside Charleston’s picturesque harbor, while the larger yachts will race just outside the breakwaters in the Atlantic Ocean.
Sportboats Turn Out En Masse
While Charleston Race Week has long attracted some of the best big-boat handicap racing on the East Coast, participation by one-design ‘sportboats’ has exploded in recent years. More than half of the 157 entries come from these lightweight, ultra fast craft, which are uniquely suited for the strong sea breezes and flat water inside Charleston Harbor. Sportboats are characterized as easily trailered and launched racing vessels with huge amounts of sail area which allow them to plane downwind, frequently reaching speeds of up to 20 knots.
“April is an amazing time of year for racing sportboats in Charleston, and our local fleet has been training hard to get ready for a great showing at Race Week,” said Melges 24 Southeast District Governor Steve Kopf. “We expect more than 40 Melges 24s – the largest fleet at Charleston Race Week – and it should be the most exciting racing event in this great boat until the World Championship in Annapolis later in the year.”
In addition to the Melges 24, CRW organizers expect around 50 other sportboats split between the Viper 640 fleet (35 currently registered), the Ultimate 20 (5 currently registered) and the Melges 20 (6 currently registered). Charleston will also mark the first-ever U.S. one-design race for the new Melges 20.
Pinnacle Sailing’s Tide/Currents Seminar Back For Another Year
The tricky tides and currents in and around Charleston Harbor can be intimidating to out-of-towners, and last year’s Tides and Currents seminar was a standing-room-only presentation. Organizers have brought back the popular ‘chalk talk’ given by local professional sailor Michael Miller and sponsored by PinnacleSailing.org. “With so many first-time competitors coming to this year’s Charleston Race Week, it’s important to get the fleet up to speed on how the water moves in Charleston,” Miller said. “After the first day of racing last year, dozens of sailors told us how much the seminar helped, and we’re excited to be able to extend this service to the teams again in 2009.”
The seminar will be held at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina at both 4:00 PM and 4:30 PM on Thursday, April 16th, immediately before the Skippers Meeting.
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