It started as a little local event, run out of a dusty parking lot, with a handful of friends deciding that it was time for Charleston to have its own sailboat race. Twenty-three years later Sperry Charleston Race Week has transformed itself into the biggest multi-class event in the USA and one of the biggest gatherings of sportboats anywhere on the globe. This year’s event takes place April 12-15.
As elsewhere in the USA, elsewhere across the world in fact, the J/70 class exploded on the Race Week scene soon after its introduction just a few years ago. But plenty of the other sportboat classes also draw big fleets to Charleston, which just became even more widely attractive with the current absence of Key West. Regardless of changing times, the Charleston offer already has a huge amount going for it, great racing, great weather, a great beach scene and affordable launching and lodging. Restaurants are cool too…
The consistent spring seabreeze and warm weather make it easier to attract sailors, but it takes a lot more than that to go from a 100-boat regatta to a 250+ boat behemoth in a few short years; so what is the one most important thing that organisers have done to keep the Charleston train chugging forward?
‘We have made “innovation” one of our buzzwords over the years,’ explains event chairman Randy Draftz. ‘While other regattas can get stuck in their ways, our organising committee, area yachts clubs, sponsors and even local government officials spend a lot of time trying to stay ahead of the curve.’ Read on.