Charleston Race Week – More Popular Than Ever

This weekend’s Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week will be bigger than ever. With more than 270 entries, the organizers decided that rather than turn people away, they would work to make everyone fit on the race courses from April 14-17.

Long billed as one of the most inclusive of all major sailboat regattas, the event required some creative thinking to safely accommodate the over 200 competing boats registered for the inshore courses. “We worked nonstop last week to find a solution that would benefit everyone involved,” said Logistics Manager Danny Havens.  “Charleston is one of the busiest commercial ports on the East Coast, so that meant building consensus with both Charleston Branch Pilots Association and United States Coast Guard Sector Charleston in order to create a third course.”  The event has seen a 40% surge in entries just from 2010 to 2011 spread across all fleets, though only the inshore courses face space limitations.

The new course for the J/22 and J/24 classes is laid out close to downtown Charleston’s waterfront. Organizers expect it to provide exciting viewing from the Battery and Waterfront parks for locals and tourists alike, who “should be able to see and hear tons of racing action, almost as if they were on the boats,” said James Island High School sailing coach Ryan Hamm.

Havens urged Charleston Race Week competitors to carefully observe all maritime regulations when they encounter commercial traffic.  “We can’t emphasize enough how grateful we are to have such supportive Pilots and Guardsmen to work with here, but it’s a two-way street,” he said.  “We expect our racers to respect all commercial operators inside and outside the harbor – for us it’s a sailboat race, but for them it’s a job and livelihood.”

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