Posts Tagged ‘charleston’
For episode # 20, we caught up with three guys who represent some of the brave new thinking in the sport of sailing. Longtime SA’er Chris Woolsey runs the reborn Miami Havana Race for a reborn SORC, and we get into the whys and hows of recreating this complicated international race to one of the world’s most unique race destinations. After that, we catch up with Tim Fitzgerald, founder of Charleston’s Fort2Battery Race, to talk about his motivations for creating the successful harbor sprint. We also get into Tim’s experience as one of the drivers behind Selden Masts growing dinghy business, discuss the first new hardware change in the 420 in years, and learn what Tim’s learned about getting millennials and Gen Z excited about sailing. Finally, we turn to one of those Z’ers, young Peter Cronin of the Mudratz. This clever kid discusses the team’s experience sailing amongst the big dogs in the Melges 24 and J/70 Class and the philosophy behind their growing Mudratz youth sailing movement in the Northeast.
Our next Sailing Anarchy Podcast will come to you from Havana Cuba, and you won’t want to miss that one! Don’t forget to subscribe to the SA Podcast for instant notifications when each one drops. (iTunes Stitcher)
- Tags: charleston, Cuba, fisher's island, Foiling, Fort2Battery, havana, mudratz, ocean racing, podcast
March 14th, 2017 by admin
It is with an incredibly heavy heart that we announce the death of one of the Charleston sailing community’s most important figures. Just 46 years old, former Charleston Race Week Director of Marketing/Sponsorship/PR Meaghan Van Liew died yesterday after complications related to a liver transplant operation – an operation required after damage her liver suffered from medication she took for an unrelated nerve issue.
Along with then-husband Brad Van Liew, Meaghan was the driving force behind Charleston Race Week’s explosion from a small regional regatta to America’s biggest sailing event. She also ran the SC Maritime Foundation and oversaw the completion and running of the Spirit of South Carolina schooner and it’s educational youth sailing program. Meaghan took on the nearly impossible task of raising two kids on the road while running a round-the-world IMOCA program for Brad’s dream of becoming the first American to win a RTW race. From Balance Bar, to Tommy Hilfiger to Le Pengouin during the final days of the Around Alone, Meaghan sacrificed everything of her own to make sure her children had great life experiences and her then-husband had a chance to win.
Professionally, Meaghan was one of the first major event organizers to put her faith in Sailing Anarchy to help jump-start Charleston Race Week’s march to prominence, and her risky move led to the worldwide acceptance we have today. She also was one of the few American sponsorship agents at the time (or since!) to secure real funding for offshore racing from major corporations. Creativity, work ethic, risk taking, and sacrifice for those you love – these were her foundations.
On a more personal level, Meaghan was one of my closest friends, and every year, Mer, the dog, and I would spend a week with her and the kids before Charleston Race Week to catch up and brainstorm new ideas to grow the event. When her marriage fell apart, she devoted herself to helping her children navigate the tough emotional situation – often to her own detriment. She ALWAYS put her children, her family, her friends, her clients before herself.
If there’s an afterlife, we pray that Meaghan Van Liew has finally found some time there to devote to herself. Meaghan, we will always love you and remember you. Check in to ex-husband Brad’s Facebook Page here, and there is a thread here. Ainhoa Sanchez photo.
Alan, Meredith, Joey, Kuma (deceased), Cricket (deceased)
MEMORIAL SERVICE and celebration of Meaghan’s life will be held at the Charleston Maritime Center (10 Wharfside St, Charleston, SC) on Sunday at 3pm.
UPDATE: We spoke to a gutted Brad Van Liew moments ago, and he requested that we ask the sailing community to please refrain from calling over the next few days so he can tend to his family in their mourning. His phone has been blowing up from South America, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, France, helping him to realizes just how many people Meg touched over the years.
UPDATE 2: We are going down to Meg’s memorial service on Sunday to pay our respects. If you have great stories about Meg, find me at the Maritime Center so we can put together a video tribute to a great woman.
January 26th, 2017 by admin
Hurricane Matthew is close to finishing up his best impression of a Worrell 1000 race course, and the storm has now killed some 900 people (overall), done billions in damage, and left millions without power as he works his way up the Carolina Coast. The footage above comes from the AP, and is mostly of a very wet Charleston SC. Those gorgeous new James Island Yacht Club docks that made Charleston Race Week launching so much easier last year are smashed to pieces, while cars, boats and anything else with westerly exposure got slammed. Fortunately the worst of the surge in CHS came with low tide, but there’s plenty of rebuilding to be done everywhere Matthew has already touched. Incredible that the US has only seen four deaths (two tree strikes and an elderly couple due to generator/carbon monoxide) despite it all. We’ll have more pics and stories of this direct hit soon, but with Matthew still lashing the southeast coast with nastiness, give a call to your friends near the water – they will appreciate it!
And for something really cool, watch the Frying Pan Shoals live stream right NOW!
October 8th, 2016 by admin
We’ll admit to shedding a tear when the South Carolina sailing community said goodbye to sportboat and offshore racer Pat Eudy back in 2013, but the boat with the name and logo seen around the world is far more durable. Eudy’s infamous Lutra 42 “Big Booty” was always a dog, and for the better part of a year she has sat at Pierside Boatworks in Charleston with US Marshal’s Office stickers affixed to her hull.
Last week, they relocated the Booty to the other side of the lot, and yesterday a nasty summer squall knocked her on her Booty. If she’s totaled, we want the section of transom with the name on it.
August 25th, 2016 by admin
What do you get when you cross a 24 year old kiteboarder from the Great Plains, an insane creative genius videographer, and a loudmouth Sailing Anarchy editor? It’s called the Charleston Fort2Battery, and it’s one of the big successes in ultra-performance sail racing of the past few years. Watch the video for the full story, and go here to find out about the 2017 edition.
May 17th, 2016 by admin
With three breezy and extremely lumpy (outside) days of racing, 2016 Sperry Charleston Race Week will be remembered mostly for disasters averted, and the biggest was the rescue of Orlando-based J/88 crew Patrick Daniel, whose heart stopped in the middle of Sunday’s first race. We remember when the Van Liews, Draftz, the Coast Guard, and Doctor Stephen Shapiro from Roper St. Francis hospital created the CRW Safety Plan years ago, and now they’d get to put it into action. Spoiler alert for those who haven’t yet seen my 5-minute video interview with Doc - A pulseless, breathless Daniel was breathing and talking by the time they got to the dock to transfer him to an ambulance.
Mer and I were just a couple hundred feet away when it all went down, and we immediately motored over to stand by for assistance, but it was apparent that the first responder – and then Doc – had things well under control. The crew had CPR already started inside the 3 minutes it took the rescue boat to get alongside, and the AED was on Daniel’s chest maybe 2 minutes later almost before the sails were completely down.
With a sharp uptick in racing fatalities over the past few years, it’s a delight to not only hear a story about a sailor escaping death, but to watch it all happen in real time. It’s also a vindication of the hard and seemingly thankless hours that organizers spend on developing and reviewing safety plans. Most importantly perhaps, even with a perfect performance from the crew, the EMT, the boat drivers, and the doc, there’s always something to learn – and everyone knows that had the fleet been on their intended offshore course, the outcome would likely have been much more tragic.
Draftz awarded Doc Shapiro the Jubilee Cup Perpetual for sportsmanship while the crowd gave him a massive ovation. It was well deserved.
While it paled in comparison to the potential tragedy averted on the Wando River, the weather was pretty tragic for those looking to race sausages in 6 offshore fleets on a single course outside the Charleston jetties. All offshore racing was shut down on Friday thanks to massive, and most of Saturday was lost offshore thanks to a nasty injury on the RC boat and no easy way to transfer to a medical boat in the big waves. When conditions continued to rage outside on Sunday morning, CRW boss Randy Draftz dug into his bag of tricks with a long morning of calls to Port Captains and Coast Guard Commanders, and had the Wando River closed down to traffic so the fleet could move under the bridge and get some racing in.
Like pretty much all regattas in the US, handicap windward/leeward racing has been falling off pretty continuously for the better part of the last decade at Charleston, even as inshore one-designs have made it the biggest regatta on the continent. Giving those six fleets a 3-race day in gorgeous Charleston conditions may have saved the format for another few years. Given the millions and millions of dollars that the event generates for the area, we’d try to push the local shipping orgs for a permanent Course 4 under the bridge to allow another 50 or 75 one-designs into the harbor or even some handicap fleets if the demand is still there, but then again we care more about enjoying Charleston and sleeping past 6 AM than we do about having obstruction-free race course.
There are literally dozens of videos and hundreds of photos (including some nice work from the back-on-the-water Meredith Block) along with news from all over the place over on CRW’s Facebook Page. And of course, there is a thread.
April 19th, 2016 by admin
Charleston’s Fort 2 Battery Race was bigger, badder, faster, and nastier than ever, though you wouldn’t know it from the ballerina-like gybe in this great Penalty Box Productions teaser from the race. Enjoy (and share!) the quick edit above, and keep an eye out for a feature from The Rev Petey next month. For the full video of the morning Beach Walk, go here. For the full shaky-cam video of the Fort2Battery Race, here.
Here’s the after-action report from F2B founder and organizer Tim Fitzgerald. (and for more from Petey on the upcoming monster Melges 24 Worlds, check out Petey’s third ‘View From The Chair.’
“10 seconds to start…Here I go!”
There’s a couple catamarans hooked up and I can see we may be getting acquainted. No thought on my part of Port and Starboard, just simply that at 25 knots, it’ll be wise of me to miss them one way or another. I’m crossing, until I hit a hole in the offshore breeze…and now I’m trying to stay on the foil.
3 seconds to impact, and now its too late to stop before I’m in their path.. But it’s my friend Jeff. “He wouldn’t run me over,” I think. On second thought, yes, he would. He’d wear my kite on the top of his mast like a trophy animal pelt.
2 seconds to impact, and now I’m way too slow to cross. so I cross the first cat, and it’s an e-brake bail to explode the water and stop before T-boning the second boat. I look up through the spray to see two masts fly past either side of my kite lines. “Holy shit.”
Time to get going again. Over there I think I see a moth. It’s hard to tell because he’s far away. A few seconds pass and now we’re not far away at all. We’re both lit up like a Christmas tree in a big puff, heading for a 40mph pileup.
And again…3 seconds to impact.
I heat up to go behind just before a huge blast hits me and takes me downwind toward my handshake with the mothie, who is also at vaporizing top speed and planning to cross ahead. 2 seconds…I’m heading right at him. If I bail in front, I’m fish food, so I lean back and heat up, which makes me go FASTER. It’s that awful feeling you get in a keelboat when it’s too late to duck and you know it’s going to get ugly.
I close my eyes a split second before my board makes contact with my good friend Pat’s Mach 2 moth with both of us at over 25 knots – though it feels like Mach 2. We clear each other by inches.
I had survived the first minute of my 2016 Fort 2 Battery. Let it be known that the good advice of “sail in clear air and open space” applies to Fort 2 Battery races also.
It began without warning. The first attackers landed at Fort Sumter in under 6 minutes with reinforcements pouring ashore in under 8. In just 15 minutes they had taken the Fort. It was glorious and it changed everything.
The third running of the Charleston Fort 2 Battery was run in reverse because of the west wind coming off the city at a chilly 20-30 knots. With the sun out, this was the kiteboarder’s version of a Chamber of Commerce day. Charleston’s Holy City Helicopters team was in the air with Sammy Hodges and Mac Dickson hanging out of the bird with long lenses astutely affixed to the competitors. From the air they witnessed a “reverse invasion” of Fort Sumter, when dozens of kite boarders landed on the beach near the Fort to wait for a ride home. You know it’s survival conditions when the competitors can’t even sail home after the race!
With the big breeze and favorable current, the hard work was getting to the upwind start but the race was all down-hill. Mr. Clean threw down the challenge in the morning letting the live audience on Sailing Anarchy know that records could fall. He was spot on, and the overall course record was cut to 5:52 by Foilboarder Zack Marks, who broke his own record in winning the race. Local kite hotshot Davey Blair also cut 7 seconds from Tucker Mason’s record to bring it to 7:12 which was even faster than the winning time in the first edition of the race. Victor Diaz de Leon cut the moth time to 6:41 while defeating George Peet by an insane five one-thousanths of a second to take second overall and win the Moth race.
When you talked to the racers, one theme was common. Among a bunch of adrenaline junkies who love to fly 40 feet in the air on a kite, and break speed records on flying boats, “I was pretty scared” could be heard over and over. The conditions were at the top end which kept the big cats on shore and ended some Moth Pilots’ days early with cartwheeling wrecks.
The high-octane format of the Fort 2 Battery is as addictive as it is exciting, and with over 36,000 people watching the pre-race Beach Walk and F2B Sprint on SA’s Facebook page, we think we’ve really stumbled on something the public loves! At James Island YC, dozens of fishermen and motor-boat owners were tailgating like Clemson Tigers football fans, and the innovating club’s only questions were “how do we make this even better?” Sweetwater Brewing and Charleston Distilling Co. helped, keeping things lively at the beach bonfire and dance party well into Saturday night.
The rest of the weekend featured more wacky stuff – three days of Kite vs. Moth free-for-all course racing – which had never been done in the world. The verdict seems to be ‘it’s everything you’d think it could be.’ Terrifying but exhilarating for the racers and spectators. Amazingly, despite the big, puffy breeze, we didn’t see a single collision or even a tangled-up kite.
It is fitting that this super high performance everyman’s revolution has grown quickly in Charleston, specifically at Fort Sumter, where our last domestic revolution started…let’s hope that this one is less messy. See you next year!
Mack Dickson photos.
- Tags: battery, charleston, charleston race week, f2b, Foiling, fort 2 Battery, kiteboarding, moths, tim fitzgerald
April 13th, 2016 by admin
With 25-30 knots of NW wind cranking down the City of Charleston, the foilboards, moths, cats, skiffs and other ultra-quick rides are set to destroy all the records in today’s Fort2Battery Race. And with results now automatic and instant like marathon scores, you can find out who’s the King of the Harbor in real time. And if you want to watch it all live, on video, including Mr. Clean’s Beach Walk before the start, keep an eye on the SA Facebook Page.
Beach Walk is at 1300, while the official start of this incredibly short race (which was won last year at an average speed of something like 34 knots!) is 1400 ET/1100 PT/1900 UTC.
April 9th, 2016 by admin
April in Charleston is one of the world’s sweetest sailing destinations, and as you may already know, it ain’t all about Charleston Race Week! The weekend before the big event is a mess of racers who do not give a shit what your PHRF number is, or how many inches of prebend you carry in your stick – no, they’re all about speed, speed, and more speed (with some partying mixed in).
It’s the fourth running of the Charleston Fort 2 Battery, founded with the help of Sailing Anarchy in 2014 and already at over 80 racers in 2015, just its second year. For this race, if you can’t hit 20-plus in your boat, you may as well grab a camera and join hundreds of spectators who fill the harbor rain or shine. 4KSB’s need not apply.
Hardworking founder and anarchist Tim Fitzgerald pulled in some ‘sweet’ sponsors to fule the beach bonfire party – Sweetwater Brewing and Charleston Distillers are on board for the libations, as is Holy City Helicopters for the aerial shots.
Last year over 5000 people tuned in as Sailing Anarchy brought the race to you LIVE and you can see it again this year if you’ve got 20 minutes and an internet connection. It’s like no sailing you’ve ever seen before and it happens fast! There were high speed wrecks, a destroyed catamaran, some bruised moth pilots and PLENTY of wind.
The 2016 F2B also scores a ‘world first’ for any sailing sprint race – just like a marathon or Ironman, all competitors will be ‘chip-timed’ for perfect accuracy, so you’ll see the results the instant they cross the finish line.
On Fort 2 Battery weekend, James Island will become the first place to hold a mixed-foil regatta, when the moths and kites go head to head Friday on the slalom course, with course racing over the weekend. From local talk it sounds like many plan to spectate the 60mph closing speeds and 30mph NASCAR style wipeouts when some of the fastest sailors in the country go head to head with few rules. We don’t even know what to expect, but if racers decide to weaponize you could see mothies running over downed kiters, and kiters boosting to chop moth sails to bits with their foils. The possibilities are endless and you may be seeing the start of something new.
Mac Dickson photo.
March 21st, 2016 by admin
Thanks in large part to Nicholas Hayes and the movement he began, sailboat racing is on the upswing in hotspots around North America, and while the new face of sailing might not look quite like it did 20 years ago, that ain’t necessarily a bad thing at all. One of the guys dragging the sport to its new look is young Tim Fitzgerald, and with seemingly boundless energy, enthusiasm, and passion for the sport, the founder of Charleston’s Fort2Battery Race & Party has something new up his sleeve. Let’s hear from Tim, and you can get in touch with him via the Charleston H20 Fleet website or FB page.
After smoking the Mothies in the 2nd running of the Charleston Fort 2 Battery Race, the growing Hobie 20 fleet’s next stop was the James Island Yacht Club Regatta, where Charleston’s fastest boats race. The teams’ backgrounds include J24s, Thistles, Lightnings, Optis, 420s, Hobie 16s, and F-16′s (not the boat, the plane), and their 5-6 minute upwind legs while dodging Lightnings, E Scows and Sea Island One Designs was exciting as hell. At mixed fleet mark roundings you’d look for just a window of daylight, and blast through the hole like Emmit Smith on crack!
In just 14 months, while most local fleets held even or lost a few boats to the war of attrition, the local H20 fleet went from zero to 7 boats locally, with two more on the way. With the exception of the J24, we are now the largest home-based fleet over 20ft in Charleston. This weekend we had 2 female drivers who led races, 5 coed teams (of 8), and 40% of the sailors were college age or younger, every one of them lit up with excitement and passion.
People are so excited here! To give you an example- boats are being bought sight-unseen, up to 14 hours away, and by sailors with near ZERO catamaran experience. One junior sailor who had nearly left the sport last year for lacrosse and basketball told me that last Saturday’s racing was “a 9.5 out of 10, my favorite sailing day ever”. He can’t wait to race again, and since the regatta, has been working with his dad after school to dial in their boat. One of the three “Guest Drivers” has already bought their own boat, and right now we have two more people we have to find boats for.
Part of the fleet’s early success comes from our experience with kiteboarding. It’s so much fun that if some other people show up, great. If not, it’s still the most fun you can have with two free hours. Going super-fast, getting fire-hosed with water in the face, and wiping out occasionally is an absolute blast. Fleet co-founder Greg Walters said after the event “All three of my kids raced this weekend, I got to sail with two of them, and i’ve never had more fun racing a sailboat.”
Ask yourself- When is the last time your kid, or a friendly non-sailor begged you to go “fun sailing” with them in 10-15kts on your raceboat? Or the last time you reached out for crew and had to turn people away due to the large response? If the answer took some thought, you may be trying to push the rock uphill. There can be a better way.
High Performance Sailing and constantly evolving ways of sharing it with the world are unquestionably attracting new people, spectators and sponsors all the way from the America’s Cup and VOR, to the 7000 people who watched the Fort 2 Battery Race via Sailing Anarchy’s live stream. Whether we like it or not, the environment that we sail in has changed over the last fifty years. As a result, the 50-year old model that many areas and clubs continue to operate under is no longer bringing in new people and retaining existing ones.
It’s becoming more important than ever for sailing to be inherently fun. I am not suggesting that we load up novices into aussie-18’s and turn them loose, or have cake and ice cream after every race, but it is obvious that the iphone and X box have raised the level of excitement needed to capture young people’s attention.
In Charleston, the Hobie 20 was the answer. Having a ready supply of used boats at reasonable prices in a spot with a great beach launching club and reliable, consistent breeze (and the ability to outperform the big currents) makes this boat the coolest starter fleet boat in the history of Charleston. Starting from scratch, we designed our fleet to re-engage and keep those kids who leave sailing because they can no longer fit under an opti boom and don’t like bailing out their boat with a juice jug. We also designed it for the guys who just want to stand the rig up and haul ass on a weeknight. Frequently heard in the group is “I didnt buy this boat to race windward/leewards and worry about tactics. I bought it to haul ass and have fun.”
High speed, ease of use, learning, and minimal pain-in-the-ass (PITA) factor are the keys. If you’re having trouble attracting new sailors, try going faster.
July 15th, 2015 by admin