Most regattas entertain participants with great action on the water, epic
social affairs on shore, and a few frills here and there. Other regattas do a
lot of the same and raise money for a worthwhile cause as well. But few sailing
events combine all of those traits while also providing substantial educational
offerings at the same time. Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week is one of those
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week kicks off next week on Thursday, April 10,
it will play host to over 280 boats. That’s more than 2,000 sailors –
the majority of them from outside South Carolian. Most of these individuals won’t
be traveling to the Carolina Lowcountry to deepen their competitive knowledge.
The overwhelming majority will be intent on simply enjoying the fruits of racing:
time spent on the water in exciting competition and the chance for some serious
socializing afterward. But those sailors keen on honing their skills and knowledge
of the sport will find some terrific opportunities here.
The regatta’s educational outreach begins straight away on Day 1 when
America’s Cup winner, three-time world match race champ and TP-52 skipper
Ed Baird will combine his expertise with local knowledge provided by College of
Charleston Sailing Coach Mitch Hall. This duo will give a pre-race presentation
on Charleston’s tricky tidal currents, and they’ll augment the discussion
with observations gleaned from that day’s practice races. Ultimately, Baird
and Cromwell will offer a recipe for success over the ensuing days given the forecast
As the regatta wears on, Baird will take his analytical talents to the stage
two more times to offer post-racing discussions based on his powerboat travels
across the various race courses. Baird’s daily debriefs on Friday and Saturday
are being provided courtesy of Quantum Sail Design Group, the regatta’s
latest corporate sponsor.
On the heels of Baird’s Saturday debrief, regatta participants will
be treated to a team racing exhibition staged right off the beach by members of
the 2012 national team racing championship squad from the College of Charleston.
Just to liven up the atmosphere, anyone who wants is welcome to form a six-person
team and join in (and current College of Charleston team members will be on hand
to crew if needed). Live commentary will be provided by Brooks Clark and Cole
Allsopp, both members of that winning group.
A different form of education will be on tap during Saturday’s racing:
Charleston Race Week has partnered with U.S. Sailing to host one of that organization’s
STEM Educator Courses, which is a part of U.S. Sailing’s REACH program.
In this, local teachers and leaders from area non-profits who work with at risk
middle school students have been invited for a full-day of professional development
focused on integrating science, technology, engineering and mathematics education
into sailing. The educators will be joined by a group of local middle school students
who will have the opportunity to witness some of the racing.
“This is a new direction for us,” explained CRW Event Director
Randy Draftz, “but it’s completely in keeping with the regatta’s
overall mission. Charleston Ocean Racing Association – the local organization
that founded this regatta and continues to manage it – is committed to promoting
the sport, and what better way to achieve that than setting the stage for teachers
to offer STEM curriculum through sailing? This program will be exposing an entirely
new demographic to the sport.”
In addition, Draftz and his fellow organizers have arranged for several of
the event’s sponsors to engage regatta participants with educational offerings.
For example, representatives from B&G, the marine electronics firm, will be
demonstrating the company’s new SailSteer feature on its navigation systems.
And a technician from electric outboard manufacturer Torqueedo will be on hand
to offer software upgrades to owners of Torqueedo engines and help them understand
how to maximize the performance of their products.
education to the mix of what we provide to competitors is just another way that
this event delivers,” offered Draftz. “At the end of the day, it’s
really about what we can do for the sailors to make this the best experience possible.
We’re hoping that when the event ends this year, ever sailor can head home
knowing that he or she has not only enjoyed a great regatta, but they’ve
learned something valuable as well.”
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week runs from April 10 through April 13
this year and is open to all sailboats 20 to 80 feet in length. (The offshore
classes accept boats from 24 to 80 feet, but only those capable of sailing offshore.)
The event is owned and managed by Charleston Ocean Racing Association, and is
supported by Sperry Top-Sider, the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, Vineyard
Vines, Gosling’s Rum, and Quantum Sail Design Group. Additional sponsors
include the Town of Mt. Pleasant, Gill, Coral Reef Sailing Apparel, and Torqueedo
Outboards, along with Roper St. Francis Healthcare, Newport Shipyard, West Marine,
B&G/Simrad, Dimension Polyant, Bainbridge, with additional support from Francisco
Davila’s Signature Coffee, Charleston Community Sailing, Farr One Design
280, Pierside Boatworks, Other Brother Entertainment, Boating Basement, Stage
Presence Event Rentals, College of Charleston Sailing Association, SailFlow, Azalea
Moving and Storage, Charleston Yacht Club, Carolina Yacht Club, James Island Yacht
Club, Hobcaw Yacht Club and Zip2Water.com.
To follow the event online, please visit www.charlestonraceweek.com,
or stay up to date with the latest information on Facebook,