The heavy weather that everyone expected in Charleston failed to materialize on Sunday, and unsettled conditions meant different challenges throughout the three race areas of Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week 2012. Within a 10-mile radius, both the offshore and inshore racing classes sailed between 0 and 3 races for the final, deciding day of the country’s largest keelboat regatta. The Cruising Class got in its third and final race, but it was definitely a slow one.
“These were some of the most challenging conditions we’ve seen ever at Race Week in Charleston, and it’s a credit to these race committee workers, the vast majority of them volunteers, that we got so many races in this week,” said Event Director Randy Draftz. “This event couldn’t be run without the nearly 300 volunteers that so generously donate their time, their energies, and their boats to this event, and we want to give all of them a special thanks for making Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week one of the best regattas anywhere.
One of the most competitive fleets in town, with America’s Cup sailors and World Champions on numerous of the boats was the Melges 20 fleet, and that competitiveness was certainly on display this morning for Race 9 of the series. Detroit racer Marc Hollerback scored the victory, while overnight leader Russ Lucas and his crew of Harry and Hans Melges on board Shimmer had one of their worst results of the event, an eighth place. Second place Layline Race Team finished just ahead of Lucas, while 2011 Charleston winner Michael Kiss got a second place in the race.
With the top four spots separated by just three points, the stage was set for an epic battle. Principal Race Officer Hank Stuart started the fleet, only to call them back for a general recall. Another start resulted in a recall, and as a line of rain clouds moved over the harbor, the breeze disappeared completely, leaving Shimmer with the class victory.
Layline skipper Travis Weisleder said the final race was a blast. “All of the leading boats were neck-and-neck the entire way around the track,” he said. This was Weisleder’s 10th Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week in 12 years, and he’s never enjoyed a second place so much. “If we had to lose, I’m sure glad we lost to a long-time friend and rival like Russ.” For his part, Weisleder guarantees he’ll be back in 2013, and will never miss another Charleston regatta again. “I’m convinced that this is, quite possibly, the best event in sailing.”
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