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.