Photo: Meredith Block

Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week awarded

Record-sized fleets, plus a new sponsor and class for April's regatta

Friday January 17th 2014, Author: Dan Dickison, Location: United States

Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week has won US Sailing's One-Design Regatta Award for 2013

According to US Sailing's Inshore Director Lee Parks: "This award recognises excellence in development, promotion and management of the year's outstanding regatta at any level."

“We’re really grateful to receive this award,” said Randy Draftz, the regatta’s Event Director for the past four years. “It validates all of the hard work and preparation that so many individuals put into Charleston Race Week each year. We rely on nearly 300 volunteers to make this thing happen as smoothly as it does, and the credit really goes to these people. Of course, getting this award also says a lot about the quality of the sponsors who support the event, and about the caliber of the competitors. Without the support of both those groups, this regatta wouldn’t have achieved this national recognition.”

The 19th edition of the three day long Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week will kick off on 10 April. The regatta has seen a meteoric rise in recent years and attracted over 280 entries in 2013. Draftz expects to surpass 300 entries this year - as of mid-January, there were already over 160 boats registered.

The growth in recent years has been so steep that the organisers have considered size limits for the inshore one-designs classes this year. The Notice of Race for 2014 stipulates no more than 60 boats will be allowed to compete in each inshore class. However, because there are already over 20 J/70s on the wait list for that class, the organisers are working diligently to determine alternative means of accommodating the largest classes.

Refinements such as that have long been part of the formula that keeps the event relevant and ensures its success. Among the other changes in store for 2014 is the addition of a class for multihulls for the first time ever. Draftz explains: “This event has always had an inclusive, supportive outlook regarding competitors, and the directors have long wanted to invite multihulls, but we’ve been focused on other areas of growth until now. This year, we're opening the regatta up to offshore multihulls, and so far the response looks promising.”

The event also has a new sponsor in Quantum Sail Design Group. According to Quantum President Ed Reynolds: "Charleston Race Week's organisers have done a tremendous job in building a respected event that is now the largest of its kind in the country....Their focus on creating a great customer experience aligns with what Quantum is all about, and we look forward to partnering with the event staff to build on this even more. With our sail loft in Charleston, we will be able to provide a high level of service and support to the race teams as well as professional on-the-water coaching, post-race debriefs, and event coverage utilizing the talents of our Quantum team members."

Quantum’s involvement, says Draftz, will enable the organisers to augment the educational aspects that have come to be associated with the regatta. “We’ll be increasing the number of post-race panel discussions,” he explained, and doing some clinics and coaching sessions. Our theme this year is come to Charleston Race Week and become a better sailor. We’re even planning a team racing exhibition. We want every competitor to have a good time, and to leave feeling like they’ve augmented their skills as well.”

Now that’s an award-winning formula.

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