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Charleston Race Week at Patriots Point - Overall

by Charleston Race Week 22 Apr 01:10 UTC April 18-21, 2024
J/105 winner DejaVoodoo - Charleston Race Week at Patriots Point © Tim Wilkes/CRW2024

Charleston: a wonderful place to completely turn off before turning onto some of the nation's most challenging sailing conditions, to get excited for the upcoming sailing season, see your friends, escape the cold, and simply have a great time, all at Charleston Race Week. And, if you don't win the regatta, there are always four nights of post racing parties on the USS Yorktown.

On Sunday, race committees on all three inside circles executed two races in variable conditions for all one-design fleets. Classes on Circle 1 (Melges 20, J24, J22) completed eight races, (PHRF Inshore sailed seven races), Circle 2 (Melges 24, J70, VX One) sailed seven races, Circle 3 (J/88, Melges 32, J/105, ORC D) all completed six races for the regatta. In the Offshore Racing Pursuit division distance courses were sailed for Non-Spinnaker, Spinnaker A, B, and C classes who enjoyed solid racing in a range of conditions.

The 28th edition of the "regatta like no other" came through for some 180 boats racing in sixteen classes, with multiple lead changes determining final places right up until the last race. For Chris Chadwick and his crew on the J88 Church Key, tied for first after the first race on day three, it was a nail-biting finish for the Annapolis, MD team all the way to the end.

"It was spectacular, it was incredibly tight racing," Chadwick smiled. "We were tight with Whirlwind and Albondigas the entire day. In the first race we were back and forth with them, Whirlwind got the better of us toward the end of the first race but in the second race we were able to come back and cover but it was still really tight; we were able to get ahead of them at the first leeward mark, they almost had us at the windward mark but we were able to hold on and get in front of them, we had a good set and were able to extend to the finish to win the last race. We had a blast and of course we'll be back next year."

A bittersweet finish to the regatta for Billy Purdy and crew on Whirlwind sailing CRW for the third time, nonetheless, they were thrilled with a podium finish for the first time at CRW. Purdy said, "It was a challenging regatta, and the race committee did a great job of waiting patiently for sail-able breeze and we really appreciated that. Church Key is a really well-sailed boat - we just tried to pay attention to the conditions and have fun out there!"

In the VX One class, the story was similar, Jack Jorgensen on SDR battled the entire regatta against good friends Trever Parekh and Marc Farmer on Bro Safari. SDR went into day three trailing Bro Safari by one point and ended the day to overcome the Canadian duo by just two points to finish in first.

"Today was close, we had a couple of things fall in our favor, particularly in the first race which gave us some breathing room," Jorgensen said. "We were able to sail fast and stay clear. The second race was a little dicey, we were behind for a lot of the race but were able to pass a lot of boats and shorten the delta up, we kept it simple, sailed clear and sailed our own race. The competition has been awesome, we've been sailing against most of these guys for a few years now so we're good friends. It's been so fun to duke it out with Trevor and Marc from the first race to the last."

In the Melges 20 class, the Californian trio representing the Corinthian Yacht Club took all three podium places, with Daniel Thielman on Kuai taking first, Jennifer Canestra on Ghostrider in second and Ron Epstein on Bacchanal in third. Epstein, who is new to racing, was thrilled with a podium finish at his first major regatta in the Melges 20.

"It was a blast to be out there for the first time on a super competitive boat and not embarrass myself!" he laughed. "The highlight was getting a first in the first race I ever raced in a Melges 20, thanks to my great crew - tactician Keiren Searle and crew Declan McGranahan - they made me look really good and for that moment I actually knew how to sail a boat, it was awesome!"

Canestra, who was instrumental in convincing Epstein to try CRW, was happy with her second place, "We should definitely come back again! The weather was really nice, we had great planing conditions, and we were very competitive with each other in a small fleet, it was fun racing."

In the J105 fleet, the talented team Deja Voodoo owned and skippered by Bill Zartler took four bullets and a second to take first, eight points ahead of second place winner Spectacle, owned and helmed by Joe Pitcavage.

"It was wonderful racing for the first time in the J105 at CRW, flat water and fifteen knots of breeze every day - it can't get any better than that," says Bill Zartler. "We dealt with a lot of current, so we learned how to deal with those angles, it was a great start to the season!"

The J24 Orange Crush skippered by Tyler Benjamin took first to win, three points ahead of Alexandria sailed by a team from Clemson Sailing Club. In his sixth year at CRW, Benjamin has sailed the event since he was fifteen.

"I have been with Orange Crush for two years now, and last year we were in the middle of the fleet, so we were really happy to take first," Benjamin said. "Our strategy this year was focusing on consistency, we have a new crew and haven't sailed together before, so we focused on the basics and simple tactics. We ended up getting a lot of bullets and that really nailed it in the end."

Doug Newhouse prevailed in the 42-strong J70 fleet with a five-point lead over Brian Keane on Savasana, last year's J70 winner, and also took home the City of Charleston Award presented to the most competitive fleet. Newhouse came second in class when he raced CRW a few years ago so was happy to better that this week.

"At the end of the day it's a crapshoot, we came into today with four boats who were essentially tied for first place and any one of us could have walked away with the win," Newhouse said. "We've done a lot of training in the J70, and we've worked hard - Charleston is a shifty environment for sure, with lots of current and changes in wind direction but I have a fantastic team and we've been together for a long time. The fleet has the best sailors, the most competitive fleet on the planet, with regattas in the coolest locations that you can go to!"

Sean Groskoph helmed the Antrim 40 XL to first place in Pursuit Spinnaker A division. A senior at the College of Charleston, Groskoph was sailing his fourth CRW event, together with a group of college friends.

"Our rating is really tough to sail - XL rates 6 - we're one of the fastest boats on the harbor," Groskoph noted. "I had a lot of trust in my tactician and my crew, and we really made the boat go how it was made to race!"

Racing CRW for the first time in some twelve years and on in his Cape 31 for the first time in a major regatta, Chris Duhon, owner/skipper of Tequila Mockingbird took first in ORC D, after a two-way tie for first and prevailing in the last race today.

"It was really a challenge with the two other Cape 31s and a Mumm 30. If we'd had a bad race today, we would not have won. I think the race committee did a great job of getting as many races off as they did in the challenging conditions. The Cape 31 is a great platform, it planes well, we have a TP52 so it's a great complement to that."

Nevin Snow, tactician on the Melges 24 Stepping Razor, the team's first regatta in the Melges 24, took first in a fleet deep in talent. Snow, who has recently been campaigning with Mac Agnese in the 49er for the 2024 Olympics, said, "The last few days were really challenging. We had a sea breeze fighting the land breeze, so it was unclear what was going to happen. Our plan based on what we could see upwind was just to stay close to the top competitors and shift to one side or the other based on what we thought was going to come at us. We kept a level-head, and we had great team chemistry in our first event together."

The Palmetto Cup, presented to the most competitive handicap fleet, went to Bottle Rocket, the Cheetah 30 sailed by a group of great friends - Jay Greenfield, Nick Johnstone and Nate Fast - who took two bullets to win class.

The Sportsmanship Award went to the Bermuda 40 Custom Yawl Lioness, owned, and skippered by Sheldon Haynie racing in Pursuit Spinnaker C.

"It's really important to recognize our volunteers and just how hard everyone works on this event; the race committee dealing with trying conditions, the media team, and the Yorktown folks - everyone works so hard to make it happen," Randy Draftz, event director, said. "It means a lot to the event to have had use of the USS Yorktown for the past four days, it makes the event pretty exceptional. We'd also like to thank Steve Hunt for his outstanding presentation to our high school sailors and their parents during the regatta. All this plays into an outstanding event."

That's it for Charleston Race Week 2024 - see you April 10-13, 2025, for the 29th edition of the "regatta like no other!"

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