Charleston Race Week 2018-
Well I have said it before and will say it again, there is just no better race week or regatta in the US than Charleston Race Week. Aside from being in an amazing city/town that has been rated the #1 small city in America for 5years in a row; the regatta venue, marina, and organization are all just outstanding.
This year I sailed w. Tim Finkle from RCR Yachts on their J-88. I had sailed Charleston Race Week several times before on J-24’s J-70’s and J-88’s, winning last year w. “Hijinks” also in the J-88 class. There were 8 boats in our class this year, a far cry from the 70boat J-70 fleet, but the racing was very close and all the boats were well sailed.
One of the new things for me was the location of our race course. My biggest concern as the tactician for this event, was not having sailed in the race area where we were sailing. Charleston Harbor is a very tricky place to sail, 3 different rivers feeding into/out of the harbor, TONS of current, and lots of navigational concerns! In the past I had sailed on the course closest to downtown and after 5 years- I felt like I had a reasonable understanding of what to look for. This time we would be on the closest course to Fort Sumter which was also the closest to exit of the harbor or the ocean. Anyway, needless to say I felt a little uneasy about not knowing all the navigation concerns, tides/currents/depth contours etc..so I scoured the internet for information and data to help me. When your dealing with nearly 2knots of current, getting a little relief into less current (shallower water) or more current( deeper water) is a big deal!
So armed with as much information as I could find, our team focused on the working on boat handling and maneuvers. In Charleston for a faster 29′ boat, there is not much “runway” on the race courses due to the constraints of the harbor, so in my opinion crisp sets, gybes, takedowns, and roundings are what set you apart from the competition and can really make the difference to getting quickly into or out of current when needed. For the practice day this was our teams focus. As a team that had never sailed together, everyone did a fantastic job of getting acclimated to their positions and we felt pretty good.
Day 2, another chamber of commerce day, with slightly less wind. Current was again a huge factor!
Day 3, yes as I just spoiled it above, we won the regatta, as there was no racing on Sunday due to weather.
As always there are lessons learned during each regatta and each individual race, and for me that’s what is so great about sailboat racing! For this event it was about never getting too high or too low and never giving up- regardless of your position in the race or even your finish in the race prior.
Thanks so much to the entire crew shown and named below, all Lake Ontario sailors!
2018 CRW J-88 Class Champions-
More amazing Pictures from Tim Wilkes Photography