SUN, WIND, AND SPECTACULAR RACING CLOSE OUT MEMORABLE 2008 CHARLESTON RACE WEEK
20 Apr 2008
For three straight days weather gods smiled on a fleet of nearly 150 racing sailboats on 70-degree water in and around Charleston. Sailors basked in the sun for a short postponement on the third morning as they waited for the sea breeze to fill – and fill it did, just like clockwork. Both the offshore and harbor courses raced their final race in 10-14 knots of cool ocean air, and unpredictable shifts forced the overall winners of this marquis event to earn every hard-fought point.
Travis Wiesleder and his all-pro crew on Carloan.com won the coveted Charleston Race Week Cup Perpetual Trophy for winning the most competitive One-Design class – this year, an easy choice for the 27-boat Melges 24 division. Carloan.com started off on their final morning in a tie with Kristen Lane's Out House, from Marin, California. “We needed one good start today, and we got it,” said Carloan tactician and top OD sailor Scott Nixon. This talent-laden class is always competitive, and at a big event like Charleston, it's doubly so. Even with a crew that included Nixon, Justin Chambers, and the legendary Skip Dieball, Wiesleder was “just one piece of sea breeze away from 2nd place,” but they took that sea breeze and turned it into the top prize at the event, which included a Raymarine electronics package worth over three thousand dollars.
The Beneteau 36.7 Echo also barely squeaked out a victory in the PHRF D fleet. The crew of self-described “Charlotte lake sailors” sailed a strong Race Week, and took their class by just two points over the Charleston-based J/35 Arrow. “If we'd have had one more race, they'd have probably gotten us,” said owner/driver Dean Forbis. “The fleet was just so competitive – there were five different winners in seven races, and everyone had some bad races as well as good ones.
The Melges didn't see the only tight action inside the harbor. The J/24 Bash sailed a flawless race to win their class in the final match, winning a new carbon-fiber spinnaker pole from Selden Masts along with other valuable prizes from Gosling's Rum and Raymarine. “The tides & currents seminar that Race Week put on for us definitely was a big part of our win today, and we can't thank Michael Miller and the organizers enough for it,” commented skipper Rob Medlin. “Chris Hamilton pushed us so hard, but my team of Bob Turner, Lorne Cheeseman, and John Collins put us in the right place and kept the boat flying.” Medlin was impressed with the Race Committee work, adding that “their great management let us get in our race today – without it we wouldn't have won.”
All the sailors mingled over CRW's famous “awards ceremony” chili with a Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy® as the weekend wound down, with smiles and sun burnt faces shining across Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina's beachfront Race Village. Racers were unanimous in their appreciation for every aspect of the weekend. “This is just about the best place to race – nothing could have made this weekend any better,” Medlin said. Raymarine's Mike Smith agreed: “We feel lucky to be part of such a perfect event, and it gives us a wonderful opportunity to show our support for the racing community,” he said. Smith also congratulated Patrick Le Goff, a Raymarine customer who drove the brand new Beneteau 40 Prelude to total dominance of the non-spinnaker division with 7 straight first-place finishes.
Justin Scott, winner of the Viper 640 class in their first-ever Charleston outing, was exuberant: “Win, lose – that's not what we care about,” Scott said. “The Vipers came to have fun, and we had almost too much of it – on and off the water. We will all be back, and next time, we're bringing friends.”
Gosling's Rum National Event Director Rinear Thatcher was also overjoyed to be a Charleston Race Week partner for the third year. “This is a fantastic time, and one of our premiere sailing events,” Thatcher said. “We know the sailors look forward to having Gosling's at such a fun regatta, and we hope to be a part of it for many years to come.”
For Nixon, who lived in Charleston from 1993 to 1995 as the coach of the College of Charleston sailing team, 2008 cemented Race Week's reputation as one of the best events of its kind. “With sun, seabreeze, sand, and totally dynamic conditions that change every leg of every race, this is just an awesome event and an awesome venue,” he said. “Even though it's three days as opposed to five, this was every bit as good as Key West Race Week...No, it was even better.”
For news and final results from 2008 Charleston Race Week, please visit www.charlestonraceweek.com.
Photographs courtesy of Tim Wilkes.