Photos courtesy of Sander van der Borch/Charleston Race Week 2015
The 20th anniversary edition of this annual spring mega regatta wound to a close today with east-southeast winds buffeting the waters around Charleston, SC, offering the 2,500 competitors some of the best racing of the entire three-day event. The rainy forecast didn’t produce any significant moisture until the end of the awards ceremonies after all the sailors were ashore and most of the competitors had started their trips home. Another successful edition of the largest keelboat regatta in the Americas is in the books.
The action out on the six race courses that made up this event proved a true challenge for Charleston area sailors as the majority of the nearly 300 entries were from out of town and out of state. And some of the best finishes were posted by teams from out of the country.
In the 83-boat J/70 class (22-foot boats) Julian Fernandez Neckleman’s crew on board his Flojito y Cooperando from Mexico City dominated the competition with superb driving and excellent tactical calls by Americans Bill Hardesty and Willem Van Waay. Second place in that mega class went to the Oslo, Norway-based team on Norwegian Steam led by Eivind Astrup. The top American boat, which finished third, was Jud Smith and his crew on board Africa out of Marblehead, Mass.
In the 22-boat Audi Melges 20 Class, which was contesting its 2015 National Championships event here, Jason Michas and his Midnight Blue crew from Long Island City, NY proved victorious. They not only won this class and their boat’s national championship by seven points over their nearest competitor, they also walked away with the Charleston Race Week Trophy, which is the overall award for the top performing boat in the most competitive one-design class at the regatta.
The Palmetto Cup, which is awarded to the top performing boat among all of the handicap rated entries, which sailed on the offshore courses, was Robin Team’s Teamwork, a J/122 out of North Carolina.
Among the top performing local boats, Chase Shaw and his three-person team sailing in the J/22 Class won by a three-point margin. And Scott Strother sailing with his Charleston-based crew on board Destiny in the non-spinnaker division of the Pursuit Class, also by a three-point margin.
The regatta organizers received plenty of kudos from competitors and visiting volunteers for the manner in which they orchestrated this event. But perhaps local racer Jeff Irvine, who sailed in the Melges 24 class had the most accurate take on this year’s event. “The off and on soggy weather was really a challenge. I know it was for the organizers, and it definitely was for us on the water. But what was great about this regatta is that it had all the possibility of being a downer because of weather. I woke up this morning and the forecast called for 100 percent rain and possible thunderstorms, yet we didn’t see any of that. And it turned out that we had really great racing today, and that was the case all three days.” At the awards ceremony, one final special award was presented – the Jubilee Sportsmanship Award, which was awarded to Jay Cook of Charleston. Cook is a longtime supporter of this regatta and an active sailboat racer. He has raced in the majority of the 20 editions of Charleston Race Week on board his 42-foot Beneteau Tohidu.