SUPERSTAR SAILORS DESCEND ON CHARLESTON HARBOR
Record Race Week Fleet Packed With World Champions
CHARLESTON, SC (April 05, 2010) - Sleek, carbon-fiber racing sailboats are flooding into Charleston with less than a week to go until the first starting gun of 2010 Charleston Race Week, and entry records aren't the only thing being broken. Race Director Randy Draftz was a bit surprised to see more than 16 sailing World Champions spread throughout the fleet along with innumerable National, North American, Collegiate and Olympic standouts. "We've always said that Race Week should be the most enjoyable regatta in the South, and it's great to see so many world-class racers embrace not only the great racing, but the laid-back and fun attitude that Charleston is all about."
With names like Harry Melges, Bill Hardesty, and Chuck Norris showing up on crew lists, Charleston Race Week has come a long way from the local regatta it started as some 14 years ago. 2005 Team Race World Champion and 2009 US Coach of the Year Mark Ivey thinks organizers have struck just the right note. "Charleston Race Week mixes professional race management with a relaxed and truly welcoming attitude ashore," said Ivey. "On the water, the competition is as good as anywhere, but off the water, the friendly atmosphere is a nice break from the high-pressure environment of other events." Ivey will sail in the 30-boat Melges 24 fleet on Charleston local Guy Mossman's Battle Rhythm.
Melges 32 World Champion skipper and New York Yacht Club sailor Pieter Taselaar will be making his Charleston debut in 2010 in his chartered Viper 640 Bliksem, and with 29 other boats, this Class ties the Melges 24 as the largest at Race Week. "Everyone talks about how great Charleston Race Week is, so we found a way to get down here, but we're not expecting to win," said Taselaar. The Dutch native and New York resident didn't skimp on talent for his crew, which includes multiple World Champ Willem Van Waay and Australian 18-foot skiff champion Michael Coxon. "We're coming because we heard we'd have a great time - if we do well, that's great too," said Taselaar.
191 competing boats are registered for this year's running of the 'Southern Classic,' and they will race in 15 different one-design and handicap classes on four different race courses - two inside the harbor, and two outside.
J/Boats - Then and Now
Rhode Island-based J/Boats is one of the largest manufacturers of racing yachts in the world, and with 58 J/Boats registered in various classes. The J/80 class is the largest of them, the 17-year old design drawing 21 entries on their 'road to the World Championship' which will culminate in Newport this summer. The Class is replete with talent, including former World Champs Kerry Klingler and Glenn Darden, who comes to Charleston fresh off a victory in 2010 Key West Race Week with his Le Tigre. The enduring J/24 continues a tradition of strong attendance at CRW, with 17 teams vying for bragging rights in this 33-year old design.
But it's not all old-school for J/Boats, and more than a dozen of their larger racer/cruisers are scattered in the PHRF and IRC handicap fleets. But the big news is a Friday night 'sneak peak' presentation from J/Boats CEO Jeff Johnstone on one of the most-anticipated racing yachts in years - the new J/111. "Sailors have been asking for this boat, and we've answered," said Johnstone. "The J/111 is an offshore-capable boat that gets the adrenaline pumping, while also offering a great platform for inshore one-design racing and even week-end cruising with the family."
Jeff Johnstone and Craig Crossley will present in-factory photos, and reveal details on specifications and schedule for this design, which will make its premier this June. "The backlog of orders is now out a year, with boats heading to great venues like Auckland, Chicago, Newport, San Francisco, San Diego, and the Solent," said Johnstone. "With any luck, we'll see enough critical mass for regional one-design racing into the 2011/2012 seasons, including Charleston Race Week."
Evolution is providing printed daily weather reports for sailors each morning at their onsite booth.