A windless Saturday morning was in store for 174 racing boats on Charleston Harbor today, but the warm sun more than made up for a little delay. Racers decided after a delay of more than one hour (due to the lack of wind) to start swimming and sunbathing. Chuck Coyer, a mobile yacht rigger who is sailing Race Week with local hotshot Melges 24 team ‘Blur’ said, “It was easy to get a little too relaxed – when the racing started it was extremely tough and mentally taxing, a real gear shift from working on a sun tan for two hours.” Blur sits in sixth position, the top local boat in the competitive grand prix Melges class, owned by Isle of Palms resident Steve Kopf.
The wind built earlier on the harbor courses than the offshore circles, where teams languished in the sun after an early attempt at a race was abandoned when the wind disappeared. “We were disappointed to see the race cancelled. We were winning at the time!” explained local sailor Will Schallor, trimming on the brand new Archambault 40 cruiser/racer ‘Jubilee’. “It’s our first time racing the boat but it has been a great event already. We already feel ahead of the learning curve.” Jubilee is locked in a tie with Charleston-based ‘Dauntless,’ while both trail ‘Teamwork,’ fresh off their success in the 408-mile Fort Lauderdale to Charleston Race. Local Sailmaker Peter Durst also sails on ‘Jubilee.’ “The amazing thing about our fleet is we have three boats deadlocked for second place, and we’re all right there behind ‘Teamwork’ – it’s just great competition,” Durst said.
Harbor Currents Deliver Challenge
In light wind, current dominates a racer’s thinking, and today, the strong current did just that. “There’s no sunbathing back home right now,” said Dan Cooney, the Marian, Massachusetts crew of J/80 ‘Bob Dylan.’ “The wind is great here too, but when it’s like today, you just can’t relax for a minute – you have to worry all the time.”
Another Course 2 boat, the hot Melges 24 ‘Quantum Racing’ didn’t have any such trouble. The all-pro crew has been on an unmatched winning streak in the marquis fleet, winning last year’s North American championship and currently training for October’s World Championship. This crack crew also includes a local – Charleston’s Amy Ironmonger, a hot commodity in the sailing world. “It was really a different game than yesterday, with lots of transitions,” she commented. The team is only one point out of first, and Amy is “pleased to see that our tuning and skill level is coming together so well as we get ready for Worlds.” Even after being over the line early in the final race of the day, Quantum was able to catch and pass 22 other boats and salvage a ninth place in the race.
Currents weren’t the only obstacle either, as the Viper 640s, Laser SB3s, and Melges 20s on the busy Course 1 found out. Moise Splomon is sailing his first-ever regatta in his new Viper. “It was tough to set a good course, but the Race Committee did the best with what they had,” he said. A newcomer to Charleston Harbor, Moise isn’t used to the tower and rock pile in the middle of the course. “The wind wasn’t a problem, the rocks were,” he said. “Still, it’s great racing and everyone is so friendly on the course and in the big Viper class, and no drama’s turned up yet.”
Tomorrow’s forecast calls for more wind and comfortable temperatures as the racers fight to win honors for their fleet and more than $10,000 in prizes from Raymarine, Gosling’s Rum and the rest of Charleston Race Week’s generous sponsors. “As far as I can tell, almost every fleet is still up for grabs tomorrow,” said Race Director Brad Van Liew. “No one is walking away with victory without a fight and once again, Charleston Race Week is providing great competition across the board.”
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