(Charleston, SC)- Starting on April 18th, a massive navy of J/Teams will descend upon the beautiful sleepy town of Mt Pleasant, South Carolina and transform the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina into "J/Town". Of the 295 boats participating, 117 J/Teams (40% of the fleet) are sailing in the event coming from all points of the compass, by far the dominant boat brand for Charleston Race Week.
Making its debut as the single largest fleet ever since CRW began, the J/70 class will have 56 teams vying for both Fleet and Corinthian class honors. The depth of the competition is quite extraordinary, as it has been since its debut in Key West Race Week in January of this year. As more J/70s are delivered there will be more new faces showing up for the first time enjoying the fun, camaraderie and amazing sailing that is on offer from the world's best 23 ft sportboat!
J/80s sailing will have spirited competition between Jim Kershaw (Leesburg, VA) on COOL J; Brad Bertram (Augusta, GA) on ROCKET DOG; Rick Donn (Thornwood, NY) on SUPERFLUOUS; and Bert Carp (Annapolis, MD) on USA 11.
In PHRF B, the J/Teams include the J/109 HEATWAVE sailed by Gary Weisberg (Marblehead, MA); the J/105 DEAD ON ARRIVAL sailed by Joe Highsmith (Bluffton, SC); and the J/35 ARROW skippered by Willy Schwenzfeier (Charleston, SC). The betting is that one, if not all, of these teams are capable of sweeping class.
The "sleeper" division always seems to be PHRF C in Charleston Race Week. It's a fleet made up of good performance boats built over the past few centuries in the 26 to 30 foot range. An eclectic mixture, but the J/Teams showing up on the starting grid are very experienced and with enormous amounts of "MoJo" they can certainly kick some booty! Leading the charge should be Dave Pritchard's (Atlanta, GA) J/92 AMIGOS. A trio of J/29s are certain to give the AMIGOS boys headaches, including Steve Thurston's (Bristol, RI) MIGHTY PUFFIN; Jim Mackevich's (Edison, NJ) FOR SAIL; and Alex Miller's (Erie, PA) PAGAN. The real sleeper in the bunch is Robert Key's (Columbia, SC) J/27 AUDACIOUS. Yes, it would be audacious if AUDACIOUS stole the PHRF C title from this band of pirates!
Finally, Charleston Race Week has included an entire "pursuit" division, based on the fact you start right off the marina, race around the track and hopefully everyone finishes together in time for the party on the beach! Wow. Not a bad idea. And, it has certainly attracted a LOT of boats to this novel concept. Chalk one up for CRW organizers! In the Pursuit Spinnaker Class is Charles Coyer's (John's Island, SC) J/36 SOUL and a highly regarded northeast double-handed circuit competitor, the J/105 JADED sailed by Peter Rugg (New York, NY)! The fact that both SOUL and JADED are rated dead-even at 84 PHRF means they're in for a "run for the roses", who beats who!! Cool. Sailing photo credits- Tim Wilkes.com and Onne Vanderwal. For more Charleston Race Week sailing information