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College of Charleston Sailing Team field breadth of talent at Charleston Race Week 2024

by Charleston Race Week 26 Apr 18:59 UTC April 18-21, 2024
The College of Charleston Sailing Team's home base is at the heart of Charleston Race Week at Patriots Point dock activity © Joy Dunigan / CRW2023

The 28th edition of Charleston Race Week at Patriots Point was a time for celebration for the College of Charleston Sailing Team; it can be proud of the depth of talent that it fielded at the prestigious regatta, one of the largest held annually in the country.

Some seventy alumni and students were a force to be reckoned with, taking podium places across the 180-strong fleet.

"We were proud when our teams sailed their best and we were of course always thrilled when they won," Greg Fisher, former College of Charleston Sailing Director 2010-2018, said. "But what has always been so important to our coaches and staff is that when our sailors graduate, they stick with the sport with the same passion and commitment. The number of alumni and members of the sailing team present at racing Race Week was amazing and speaks to that commitment. Among them are world and national champions, Rolex Yachtsman of the Year finalists, and of course, weekend warriors who just love sailing."

Alumni sailors took top trophies in several classes including Jack Jorgensen and Ryan Davidson racing on SDR in the VX One class. Going into the final day trailing the Canadian team Bro Safari by one point, they overcome the Canadian duo by just two points to finish in first.

"The College of Charleston sailing team alumni is a huge network of hundreds of people who compete not just at Race Week but other events I do where I live in California - there are a ton of Charleston alumni sailing here that are top level sailors," Jorgensen noted. "The competition this past weekend in the VX One fleet was so close and so awesome. It's always cool to go back to your stomping ground where we were all on the team together and compete and do well against such a big fleet."

Alumni Jay Greenfield, skipper of the Cheetah 30 Bottle Rocket, sailing with good friends Nick Johnstone, also a College of Charleston alumni, and Nate Fast, took two bullets to win in Pursuit Spinnaker B. They also took the Palmetto Cup trophy, presented to the most competitive handicap fleet. The boat hadn't been in the water since the mast went through the deck at Key West Race Week in 2006, but the skilled trio sailed the long offshore races cleanly to prevail over the competition.

"I rely on my great crew to help with all of this," Greenfield said. "I grew up with Nate and Nick I met in high school then sailed together at the College of Charleston where I was on the offshore team."

Megan Fetterley, a senior who will graduate in just a few weeks, has been sailing since she was ten years old. She didn't grow up in a sailing family so fully embraced the opportunity to sail on the offshore team for the College of Charleston. At CRW she skippered an all-student team to fourth place in Pursuit Spinnaker A.

"I feel really lucky to have become a member of the offshore sailing team," Fetterley said. "We really learn from our peers, so I learned a lot about offshore sailing from the seniors and the juniors who came before me, its super important to me to pass down everything I have learned on the team to the younger members to keep it going. We all had the realization that we don't get to go offshore every day, so the regatta was like a senior send-off for us, we always look forward to Charleston Race Week."

Sean Groskoph helmed the Antrim 40 XL to first place in Pursuit Spinnaker A division, four points ahead of the second-place boat. A senior, Groskoph was sailing his fourth CRW event, together with a group of college friends.

"Being part of the College of Charleston team especially with Charleston Race Week is exciting, we have home advantage, we had been training for the two weeks leading up to CRW, this was the last event for the offshore team, so we really gave it our all. Sailing is a passion that we all share. I've really fallen in love these past four years with Charleston, I've been engulfed by this team, and it means a lot to me. That last start on Sunday really slapped me in the face so I really tried to give it all I had this past weekend."

Renown coach and elite sailor Steve Hunt took fourth in the highly competitive 42-strong J70 fleet on Midlife Crisis at the recent Charleston Race Week 2024, racing on a team he has sailed with for nine years. Hunt has been honored as a finalist in the 2023 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Award and undertook a seven-year Olympic campaign in the 470, among his many accomplishments. He loves returning to Charleston to race.

"Sailing at the College of Charleston meant the world to me, it really changed my life," Hunt said. "I loved it, it was the best time of my life at the time. I made a lot of great friends and the ability to go sailing five days a week for five years with a huge group of talented sailors with great coaches made all the difference in the world. I can remember thinking about it in class, looking out the window to see how much breeze there was. I couldn't wait to go to practice, and I never missed one in five years, of which I am proud. It really did set the protectory of my life."

Ned Goss, College of Charleston offshore coach, noted that the offshore program was created in 2013 and has given many sailors opportunity who were maybe too big to be dinghy sailors or had focused more on big boat sailing.

"The program had done well, winning national championships and regattas across the country, and launching some noted big boat sailors," Goss said.

The College's dinghy team has always been extremely successful, winning the Fowle Trophy, signifying the best all-around sailing team in the country, nine times. 198 All- American sailors came from this powerful program. In just the past few years, Rolex Yachtsman of the Year finalists have included C of C Alumni Zeke Horowitz (2018), Connor Blouin (2021) who is the head coach at the College of Charleston, and Steve Hunt (2023).

"There have been so many people who have worked really hard to build the team and the program to where it is now, like George Wood who led the College of Charleston Sailing Team from the mid-70s and who still supports the program," Fisher noted.

He added, "George and others like him help drive the program to become one of the very best in the country. All those who manage the program now, including Head Coach Conner Blouin, Offshore Coach Ned Goss, assistant Coach Annabel Carrington, and their super staff, also appreciate that the Charleston sailing community is such a big, and passionate supporter of their sailing program. Many local sailors at all levels step up to help run the many events the College hosts, and they generously help support the program financially. This enthusiasm is unique, and not every college sailing program is as fortunate as C of C Sailing!"

He added, "George and others like him help drive the program to become one of the very best in the country. All those who manage the program now, including Head Coach Conner Blouin, Offshore Coach Ned Goss, assistant Coach Annabel Carrington, and their super staff, also appreciate that the Charleston sailing community is such a big, and passionate supporter of their sailing program. Many local sailors at all levels step up to help run the many events the College hosts, and they generously help support the program financially. This enthusiasm is unique, and not every college sailing program is as fortunate as C of C Sailing!"

Full Results for Charleston Race Week 2024 at Patriots Point here.

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