Posts Tagged ‘charleston’
This week’s Sailor Chick of the Week was a no-brainer; 23-year old Grace Lucas is smart, sassy, fast as hell, and just helmed her way to fourth place in an extremely competitive Charleston Melges 20 fleet, losing the podium spot she’d held through 6 races after a last-leg charge from Michael Kiss’s Bacio. Grace is finishing her college career this year after 3 years on the CofC sailing team; here’s hoping she doesn’t get so sucked up in the employment world that she gives up sailing. Get to know Grace more in two interviews our own Mr. Clean did with the young NJ native, and enjoy tactician and Melges fixture Sam Rogers’ new nickname.
April 14th, 2014 by admin
Young Tim Fitzgerald shares his experience as the founder of the first drag-race style speed sailing event on the East Coast; the 3.8 mile Fort2Battery Race in Charleston, SC. Photos from Els Sipkes; her blog is here with more, and there are hundreds more in her SmugMug gallery.
60 days ago I didn’t know if Charleston wanted a drag race sailing event, and after today I can only say “WOW” when I see how much they do! Today I saw 150 people line up on the Battery to watch kites and boards and boats on a 9-minute sprint down Charleston Harbor. Elderly people stopped me in the park to confirm the start time. People in golf carts tailgated on the points of land on James Island to watch the watery wipeouts that equate to “the big one” in a NASCAR race. The only time in my sailing career I’ve ever heard of more than 100 people coming out for an American sailing race was the America’s Cup or the Olympics and today we accomplished that with little more than the economical low-end of sailing’s high speed Band of Brothers.
Charleston is the perfect place for a sprint like this; with the beaches, breeze, and boating community, it’s a playground for those who chase the wind, and with North America’s biggest regatta, the biggest Sportboat regatta in the world, and the East Coast’s biggest kiting community, the “Sailing Capital of the South” has emphatically stuck its pin in the world of high-performance sailing. With an oversubscribed field of 55 entrants in the first ever running of the Fort 2 Battery Race, you can consider that pin the size of a railroad spike driven in with the overhead swing of a sledge hammer.
Anyway, it went like this: At 3 PM on Sunday, a new battle took place in the shadow of Fort Sumter; the site of the Civil War’s opening salvo. A ragtag fleet of foiling moths, kite board, catamarans, sailboards, and skiffs went on a downwind blast to the Battery in 13-18 knots of Northeasterly breeze for a cash prize, bragging rights, and the new title of “King of the Harbor.” Bora Gulari, fresh off his win in last weekend’s Moth North Americans, led from wire to wire on a starboard-tack favored run; his time of 8m58s for the 3.8 NM course equates to an average VMG of nearly 26 knots – even more incredible when you account for the 2-3 knot outgoing tide and a gybe. The first four finishers were moths, with the fastest course-race kite board about a minute behind; importantly, there were no foil boards in the inaugural Fort2Battery Race; we’re told they will most definitely be back next year, as will the Moths.
Of course there were obstacles along the way, but you’d be amazed at what a great community there is here around the water. The kind of roadblocks you’d expect for a new race with a new format and extremely high speeds just didn’t exist; the USCG, Department of Natural Resources and local governments all shared the same message when I approached them; “That sounds awesome – go for it!” was their almost unanimous response, and thanks in large part to Sailing Anarchy, the entries rolled in from the moment we announced the race right here on the front page.
Now that it’s finished, I find myself why there aren’t events like this one everywhere; people were so eager to jump up and support a speed sailing event that it blew my mind, and confirmed what I had suspected; the only thing keeping people from doing more of this stuff is a lack of events. The format – one start, one finish, and a short course – makes the racing incredibly accessible to both competitors and the public, just like the hundreds of easy 5K runs that happen every weekend all over the country. We had a perfect mix of sailors; from full-family programs on a Hobie 20 to 65 year-olds on sailboards to the Moth World Champion, and everyone had a smile on their face afterwards. The simple format was a relief to the journalists and spectators we spoke to; people who often struggle to understand the details of more complicated sailing formats
When it comes to gaining the attention of young people and our communities, high performance sailing is where it’s at. This is exactly what kids need to put down the X Box and pick up a mainsheet, and I guarantee you that if you or your club or association wants to make it happen on your harbor, river, lake, or bay, you’ll find it absolutely worth the effort. And if you are interested in organizing a sprint race in your home town, hit me up through my website and I’ll share any tips I can with you.
A huge thanks to Mr. Clean and Sailing Anarchy for all their help and support; without you guys, this would definitely never have happened. Also a big thanks to Dave Pritchard at Gill North America for helping us out with competitor vests, and much love to James Island Yacht Club for your support and RC work; please can check out the rest of the sponsors at the Fort2Battery site, and we’ll see you next year!
April 7th, 2014 by admin
February 17th, 2014 by admin
You may remember the Mothies making their winter “Moth Camp” home in Miami the past couple of years, but 2013 brings a change of scenery to Moth Camp. The first race of the season was last weekend, when 13 Moth Sailors gathered in Charleston to kick off the first event of the 2nd Annual Gorilla Rigging Winter Moth Series.
“It’s never like this” temps in the 70′s and major high pressure meant light air for the first event of the series; Friday was slalom racing where the moths started upwind and did a 5 buoy downwind slalom that lasted 3-4 minutes. Matt Knowles, Eric Aakhus, Brad Funk and Anthony Kotoun had a great final “battle royal” with multiple lead changes. Anthony found the puff from heaven for the win.
Friday night the Mothies attacked a college house party and later, trolled down King St. With different sailors having different intensions the inevitable happened and we all got split u, but thanks to the Mothies’ love for GPS trackers and the Friend Finder iPhone app, we were able to rescue the wayward from likely tears, expensive cab rides, or walks of shame…The college party didn’t go as well as they used to; we got there as the beer ran out, and they quickly figured out that most of us were around twice their ages.
Racing on Saturday went along the same lines as the college party. We were all ramped up with nowhere to go. We waited until 3 PM before having two “exhibition races”; welterweight USA Class President Matt Knowles took both bullets.
Fearing more failure amongst the playground of beauty and youth downtown, we resorted to beer and pizza at the club, burning up some of our competitive energy with some old guy vs young guys flip cup. The young guys took it two to one; unsurprising, yet depressing. The fine southern gentleman of host club James Island Yacht Club then treated us to their “Lowrider Lemonade” double bourbon special. Not too bad!
The high pressure kept its grip on Charleston Harbor on Sunday as well, but luckily, a touch of seabreeze filled; enough for us to do six AC reaching start courses. Brad Funk, Anthony Kotoun and Bora Gulari battled it out again and again with lots of lead changes and come-from-behind wins. Brad Funk took the overall with Anthony and Bora rounding out the podium.
The Moth Class continues to grow with each regatta posting better and better numbers. This event had three new sailors as well as competitors from Sweden and Australia. The Gorilla Rigging Series continues here in Charleston with event two in February and the North Americans in April. For more, check their Facebook page.
Priscilla Parker photo.
January 16th, 2013 by admin