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North Sails NEWS

April 25, 2017

A beautiful weekend in Charleston welcomed teams who traveled across the country to compete in one of the biggest regattas in the nation

Charleston Race Week 2017 saw 213 boats registered, which made for a fun and exciting week of racing! The J/24, J/70, and Melges 24 fleets were the largest this year with a lot of familiar faces ready to hit the water in one of the most exciting venues south of the mason dixon line, the Cooper River! With different locations and courses for each racing circle, current and land factors come into play and can make or break your strategic plan around the course.

Day one was a day to remember, with picture-perfect conditions for the OD courses inside Charleston Harbor. A building breeze made for fun racing later in the afternoon, especially in the J/70s who were up and planing for the last race. The current switched as the wind became shifty and puffy, which kept the sailors attentive to tricky course dynamics. Keeping track of the current direction in the different parts of the course was very important. “The best way to figure this out was to look at the marks and the committee boat to see which way they were sitting. The race committee boat is very helpful in determining just how strong the current actually is, and in what direction it is flowing which is helpful for starting techniques and calling the lay line,” said North Sails expert, Zeke Horowitz, of the J/70 class.  “Constantly looking outside your boat is important as the angles are so apparent, and shifting rapidly,” he continued. “Having someone in the boat to keep an eye on fleet management makes it much easier to tell whether you have chosen the tack to get you ahead, or if you, in fact, need to tack.”

On day two, the J/22 and J/24 fleets were sent to a different location to race, south of the Cooper River Bridge. With the new location and new factors present in that area, it seemed that the leaders were successful by choosing their own destiny. “Looking beyond our current position, and thinking a step ahead allowed us to make gains in this area of racing,” said North Sails expert, Mike Marshall, who skippered J/24 USA 5208. Mike remarked on a solid showing in the J/24 and J/22 fleets this year, noting great competition and camaraderie in both fleets.

A front moved in slowly on Sunday and turned the big breeze on, which kept competitors on their toes while settling into the new pressure. The J/70s had a hard time starting together in both fleets, resulting in two general recalls which lead to the black flag. “Things got interesting when the second fleet finally got off to a good start, and the first fleet was already sailing downwind against the upwind sailors,” recalled Brian Janney of North Sails in San Diego, who sailed on 3 Ball JT. Brian noted the biggest factors of the final day were consistent, “Keeping your head out of the boat and staying in phase was an important part of maintaining confidence in your decisions. Tacking on each small shift made for big gains, as the fleet leaders dug closer and closer into shore.” With relatively flat water and consistent pressure, sailors reported a flatter sail plan worked well.

Another great race week in the books, with outstanding attendance in the J/70 division!

Melges 24 Team ‘SlingSHOT’ catching the perfect puff © Tim Wilkes
Joel Ronning’s “Catapult” coming around the offset mark-ready to roll downwind © Tim Wilkes