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Posts Tagged ‘charleston’

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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

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Clean Report

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.

IMG_7429-1Mer 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

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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!”

“Uh-oh.”

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.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.31.44 AMThe 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.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.33.36 AMThe 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.

-Fitz

 

April 13th, 2016 by admin

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Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 11.14.21 AMWith 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

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Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 12.27.22 PMApril 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.

Register now!

Mac Dickson photo.

March 21st, 2016 by admin

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Hobie 20

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.

3 hobie 20s_c o Sam ZankelPeople 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

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Drizzle doesn’t dampen the mood for Charleston Race week. It didn’t stop the ridiculous Sperry/Sailing Anarchy party last night, and racing commenced on time and on pace today. Under dark morning clouds, an eight knot northwesterly greeted the inside fleet and held enough to get high quality racing in. And what’s Charleston Race Week without current. The ebb was flowing hard today, with teams jockeying for shallow water position all day. Who played it the best?

It’s not Cinco de Mayo yet, but the J/70 Mexican team Flojito Y Cooperando helmed by Julian Fernandez celebrated early with two bullets today to set themselves apart in this talent laden fleet. Elvind Astrup’s Norwegian Steam stayed consistent with a 1, 6, 5 to hold on to an early second. The top and only US team currently on the J/70 podium is Joel Ronning’s Catapult. Since there are 78 J/70s racing in four separate fleets, the points add up quick and the scores are really close with eight boats tied in one way or another in the top 15. The fleets will be reset tomorrow for more qualifying racing.

Continuing the south of the border but north of the fleet tone, the lone Brazilian Melges 20 entry, Portabello, led by Cesar Gomes Neto, threw down some spicy upwind skills to keep ahead of Bruce Golison’s Midlife Crisis by three points. Midnight Blue sailed well in today’s darker conditions to keep it tight on the podium, behind second by only one point. Only eight points separate the top six in this wide-open class.

Guy Mossman’s name is on the Melges 24 score sheet, but he’s mending a broken hand from a ‘being a nice guy’ moment.  Lesson: Don’t punch a fighting pit bull in the head. In his place on Battle Rhythm is Will van Cleefe, who earned a four point lead today over Brent McKenzie on Ex-Kahn, followed closely by Bruce Ayres on Monsoon.

Watch the full replay of all the live racing action here, and if the wind ever fills in, we’ll have Saturday’s racing for you on this page.

© Sander van der BorchBrian Carlin photo of the sexy C&C 30 and the rest of PHRF A offshore, and seriously big, badass galleries from Brian and Sander Van Der Borch are over here.

And the Team Vestas Wind award goes to Christian Koppernaes in the VX-One fleet, who took the ‘short tack the shore’ move a little too far.  Sander Van Der Borch photo.

Results after day one here, and of course a huge thanks to our friends at Sperry for making SA’s extended coverage of Charleston’s action.

-John Casey

 

April 18th, 2015 by admin

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broke

If ever a boat died with its boots on, it was this one – David Wallace and Richard Grantham’s ancient Nacra 6.0 has lived through several Worrell 1000 races and countless hours on the Georgia Coast, but a 3.8 mile sprint in 20-25 knots on Charleston Harbor was the end of her days.  Wallace and Grantham drove up from St. Simon’s Island, GA, and they said there’s no question they will be back.  They didn’t say whether they’d be racing or spectating!

Big congrats to St. Pete’s Zack Marks for absolutely destroying Bora Gulari’s record run from last year – official time is 6:10 for the 3.8 mile course. We’re not great at math, but that sounds like somewhere around a 33-knot average to us.

Billy Goldsberry gets the Rescue of the Week award for this one, and you can see a gallery of really cool land-based and sky-based shots of this unique race here.

 

April 13th, 2015 by admin

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Thanks to a string of boat and mast problems in the Mini fleet, we’ve called young solo/shorthanded offshore racer Jeffrey Macfarlane ‘one of the unluckiest guys in the sport’, but as of Monday, Jeff’s luck seems to be changing.  Below is an SA exclusive from Jeff on his victory and leg record on Leg 2 of the Atlantic Cup, with a Billy Black photo to the left, and galleries of the whole race here.  You can check in with the racers tomorrow night at the party at Jamestown FISH, and say hello to Clean and Mer if you show up.  And Newport locals can watch them out racing this weekend alongside the International Moths and the Open 60s.  

My co-skipper, Jake Arcand , and I were looking for redemption in leg 2 and we got it! Our first leg was disappointing. We blew up our A2 spinnaker and lost all of our electronics for the majority of the 600+ mile race. Thanks to generosity of Steve Benjamin we were starting leg 2 with a one spinnaker – he donated an old Spookie kite to our program [that’s the one with the Swisher cigar logo -Ed] and we were able to get a last-second sail recut, just in time to replace our irreplaceable A2.

At the start of the second leg, the breeze was fairly light and we decided to stay on the south side of New York harbor to take advantage of a slightly stronger tide and freshening breeze. But, it was not until after the bridge that our strategy began to pay off and we started to leg out on Dragon and Pleiad, more to the North. We led the fleet out of the harbor and planned to take the Swash channel. Everything was going perfectly to plan, but after seeing Pleiad choose to take the more inshore Sandy Hook Channel, we reevaluated and decided to cover. Unfortunately, they were able to stretch some distance on us, but once we were clear of the channel we slowly began to chip away at their lead, eventually passing them.

Most of the fleet chose an offshore route on the way south to the Barnegat Light buoy, but I positioned us more on the beach side of the course, anticipating the wind shifting West. Our strategy worked, except for the brief period of time when there was no breeze in a wind transition. Mike and Rob on Dragon stayed very close to us and they handled the transition a bit better, reaching the new breeze before us.  We rounded the tuning mark just behind, and began the night jockeying positions with them. We took a northerly course from rhumb line anticipating the breeze would head us come morning, and when morning came we were a mile or two in front of Dragon. However, the wind did not head us like all of the weather models predicted and we found ourselves in yet another wind transition zone where Dragon, who was further offshore, managed to pass the transition zone quicker, and passed us in the processl. From then on, it was all drag race – a speed run to Montauk Point during which time we desperately tried to regain our lead. As we sailed inside Block Island we kept going higher in order to get more speed on Dragon. Frustratingly, she matched us until we both began to sail as deep as possible in order to make Point Judith. The breeze offered us ideal downwind conditions on the way to Point Judith and we sailed downwind straight to Newport at 15-17 knots.

As we approached Narragansett Bay, we were still just a few boatlengths behind Dragon on port gybe and very close to the shore. The wind began to lighten and we matched Dragon’s every move, hoping to get an advantage on them. We did not get the advantage until we both gybed and they came out a bit higher. I was able to take a few puffs and soak just a few degrees deeper than them, and we were able to get below them on the inside gybe. We took advantage of any depth we could get and we tried to get more separation from Dragon, covering their every gybe. It worked! We ended up in very light winds approaching the finish just 80 seconds in front of Dragon. We not only won the leg, but we also set a new course record by over 6 hours.

Jake and I could not have been more pleased, and what a result for one of the oldest Class 40s in the fleet, donated for my use by the inimitable Ralfie Steitz from the USMMA Sailing Foundation.  Ralfie and the King’s Point program continues with its mission to help young, up and coming sailors get more opportunities in the limited American shorthanded sailing scene.  By coupling his support with that of Oakcliff Sailing, our team has fulfilled this mission proudly.  There is a very long list of sponsors and supporters that have had an instrumental part in the success that I have had over the past few years.

We have a fantastic inshore team consisting of Phil Garland – our mast manufacturer and sponsor from Hall Spars, Ross Weene – one of the boat’s designers from Roger Martin Designs, Chris Poole – fellow Oakcliff sailor and top ranked match racer, as well as Oakcliff graduate Ervin Grove. We are looking forward to combining our strengths to find more success in the final, inshore leg of the Atlantic Cup this coming weekend.  We are hoping to win the inshore series and pull out an overall Atlantic Cup victory.

Wish us luck!

-Jeff

 

May 22nd, 2014 by admin

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It’s got more entries than any keelboat regatta in the Western Hemisphere, more women and juniors than any open regatta we’ve ever been to, and one of the best venues in the entire sport.  And now it’s got one of the best highlight videos, too.  Petey Crawford from Penalty Box Productions went two days without sleep to get dozens of hours of footage from 2014 Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week turned into 10 minutes of reality show/highlight reel/tribute film, and the result is just goddamned excellent.  If you want to know the recipe for success in modern American regattas, watch and learn.  And go here to find all the interviews, photos, and race coverage from the SA crew over this past weekend.

 

April 16th, 2014 by admin

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