STRONG MOMENTUM FOR SPERRY TOP-SIDER CHARLESTON RACE WEEK
9 Feb 2012
Bright, sunny skies and 70-degree temperatures across much of South Carolina must be catching the eyes of sailors around the country, reminding them that Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week begins in fewer than three months. What has become the country’s fastest growing regatta in recent years is on track for another year of record attendance. As of early February, 193 boats had registered from all over the U.S. and Canada, with 54 of those signing up during the final week of January.
For six straight years, this regatta has experienced remarkable growth. Last year, 234 boats competed on Charleston Harbor, the largest fleet ever assembled in the 15-year history of this regatta. For 2012, organizers within Charleston Ocean Racing Association – the event’s organizing authority – are making plans to accommodate additional growth. In the thick of those plans is Brian Swan, a longtime Charleston racer who is co-coordinating logistics for the event’s steering committee.
”We’re not surprised to see such a big number of entries at this stage,” explained Swan. “Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week has become a bucket-list event for racers across the country, and we all know how popular Charleston is. Conde Nast Traveler magazine named it the No. 1 destination in the U.S. not long ago.”
Swan notes that the event’s popularity doesn’t just appeal to the owners of trailerable one-design sailboats such as the Melges 24 and the Viper 640. “We’re seeing very strong interest from the larger offshore boats, and when you couple that with the huge participation of smaller boats, it adds up to a logistical challenge.”
To address that challenge, Swan and his fellow organizers are adding two new launching and hauling sites on Charleston Harbor. “We’ve arranged for nearly 50 boats to be launched right downtown at Union Pier. We’ve got a staging site nearby to prep the boats, then a crane will splash and haul boats just south of the Charleston Maritime Center. We’ll also have a site nearby to store the trailers. We’ve also made arrangements with the James Island Yacht Club to launch and haul all of the J/22s. Along with support from the other yacht clubs on the harbor, I think we’ve now got sufficient capacity to make this aspect of the regatta run very smoothly.”
Swan explained that the primary focus of the organizers is to make participation in the regatta more convenient for competitors, and ultimately, more enjoyable. “Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week is a phenomenal experience, and we want all the participants to be able to soak up the key elements of this event – great racing, superb hospitality, and a fantastic venue. And we want them to be able to do that with minimal distraction.”
So far, the formula appears to be sound. Not only is the event attracting strong numbers of trailerable one-design entries, but growth among the larger offshore boats is solid, including three IRC entries, among them Austin Fragomen’s brand new TP 52 Interlodge. Says Swan, fully one third of all the entries at this stage are offshore boats.
”We’re really gratified to see such strong interest in the regatta,” he adds. “It tells us that we’re making all the right moves to produce a first-class event that’s fun, competitive, accessible and smothered in Southern hospitality.”
The deadline for entry is April 13, 2012. Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week runs from April 19 through April 22 and is open to all monohull sailboats 20 to 80 feet in length. The event is owned and managed by Charleston Ocean Racing Association and is supported by Sperry Top-Sider as title sponsor, the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, Vineyard Vines, Gosling’s Rum. Additional sponsors include The Town of Mt. Pleasant, Gill, Coral Reef Sailing Apparel, North Sails, South Carolina State Ports Authority, Interlux/Awlgrip, and Charleston Community Sailing, along with West Marine, Pierside Boatworks, College of Charleston Community Sailing, Azalea Moving and Storage, and Lewmar Navtec.