Skip to main content

Good Vibrations in Charleston

The wind gods giveth, and the wind gods taketh away—pity those poor sailors and regatta organizers whom they choose not to favor with a good breeze. Fortunately, both the organizers of this year’s Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week and SAIL magazine’s Best Around the Buoys (BAB) crew, racing aboard the Beneteau Oceanis 37 BeneRound, received just enough of what they needed to count the three-day event a success.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

The wind gods giveth, and the wind gods taketh away—pity those poor sailors and regatta organizers whom they choose not to favor with a good breeze.

Fortunately, both the organizers of this year’s Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week and SAIL magazine’s Best Around the Buoys (BAB) crew, racing aboard the Beneteau Oceanis 37 BeneRound, received just enough of what they needed to count the three-day event a success. 

Even if they hadn’t, you can’t help but wonder if things would have been OK anyway. Every regatta has its own unique personality, and thanks to the enthusiastic support of the local sailing community and a great venue at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marine—not to mention plenty to drink, thanks to sponsor Goslings Rum—Charleston Race Week (CRW) has a vibe that’s hard to beat. 

As recently as 2009, the regatta hosted just over 170 boats, but this year there were more than 250 boats crewed by around 2,000 sailors, making it the fastest-growing event in the country. The event is also evolving in terms of the types of boats taking part. Although traditionally a mecca for sport boats, like the Viper 640, J/80 and various Melges classes, this year’s CRW played host to the likes of the mini-maxi Shockwave, the ultra-hot McConaghy 38 Carbonado and a handful of brand-new Farr 400s. There was also a new cruising division, which sailed a pursuit race from just off the marina out to the offshore jetties and back. (See “It’s a Great Way to Start” on page 21 for more on this type of racing.) 

SAIL’s BAB crew, which hails from St. Petersburg, Florida, where they sail the Tripp 38, Warrior, competed in the nine-boat PHRF G class. Skipper Grant Dumas and crew Joe Frohock, Danette Szakaly, John Jennings, Phil Smithies and Bobby Nobles beat out about 50 other crews to win a free berth in Charleston based on their outstanding PHRF record back home (other perks included all-new canvas for BeneRound from North Sails, a go-fast bottom from Pettit Paints, B&G hardware, full Gill race gear, commissioning help from OnDeck Sailing and a copy of the Racing Rules of Sailing from US Sailing) but they needed all their skills to prevail in Charleston. 

Day 1 of the three-day series saw sunny skies and building breezes that topped out in the mid-teens. BeneRound reveled in the conditions, and notched three firsts. 

Day 2, though, was a whole different story, with light winds from start to finish. According to Dumas, BeneRound was especially hampered by the fact that the only jib they had was a fairly small one, limiting their boatspeed. “Some of the other boats had much larger overlapping headsails, which made things tough,” Dumas said. 

Motoring out to the course on the third and final day of racing, the BeneRound crew encountered a nasty swell coming in from offshore and almost no wind—“dreadful” conditions, according to Dumas. Sure enough, Kenneth King’s Charleston-based Sabre 38 Quintette, which had been nipping at BeneRound’s heels from the beginning, won the first race of the day, while BeneRound finished third. 

In the final race of the series, BeneRound and Quintette sailed neck and neck as Dumas and company did their best to stay close. Team Warrior’s thinking was that if they could ensure no other boats finished in between them, BeneRound would still prevail on points.

On the final beat to the finish, though, Quintette tacked offshore despite the fact that, according to Dumas, boats had been making “huge gains” inshore all day. Hoping for more pressure, BeneRound took a chance and tacked for shore, where the crew found the wind they needed for another win. Meanwhile, Quintette sailed into a hole and finished seventh, although the team still held onto a well-deserved second-place finish overall. 

Elsewhere, race organizers also found just enough presssure to get in the requisite number of races and ensure everybody went home well satisied. For both Team Warrior and Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week as a whole, the wind gods had provided just enough breeze to make the week a winner



Cruising: Safety Lessons Learned

It’s not often that sailors get a chance to put their rescue and MOB training to the test, rarer still that they do as quickly as newbie California sailor Khosrow “Koz” Khosravani did recently. If and when an emergency situation ever arises, though, it pays to be prepared. This more


At the Helm: Sailplans

The first thing you notice when you look at the sailplan for the Farr 65, Falken, which Mia and I recently added to the fleet here at 59-North, is the sheer number of headsails. Falken was built in 1999 as a racing boat to go around the world, and the crew would have carried the more


Racing Class Reunion

Where does an old VO70 go to retire? Right back to the racing circuit, apparently. This spring saw a remarkable contingent of Volvo Ocean Race one designs back on the water and duking it out on the Caribbean circuit. While it’s no surprise that some of the VO65 teams intending more


Charter: Sweden

With 2,000 miles of coastline, 270,000 islands and seemingly countless bays and inlets, Sweden is truly a sailor’s paradise. One of the top sailing destinations here is the archipelago just outside the country’s second largest city Gothenburg (locally known as Göteborg), on the more


Crowdsourcing Age-of-Sail Weather Data

Although big, multi-million-dollar projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the human genome project with their legions of PHD’s tend to grab headlines, there’s still a part of play for the “citizen scientists” of the world. Amateur birders have long contributed to an more


Ultims to Race Solo Around the World

For years now, maxi-trimarans, both solo-sailed and fully crewed, have been racing the clock on their own around the world in an effort to set ever faster records for the world’s fastest circumnavigation under sail. Back in 2000-01 there was also a no-holds-barred more


Juneteenth on the Water

Discovering Amistad and Mystic Seaport Museum have partnered to organize their third annual Juneteenth festival, featuring concerts, speakers and a reflection on the lasting legacy of racial injustice in America. Declared a National Holiday in 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the end more


New Multihulls for 2022

Lagoon 51 In keeping with many of the more recently launched models created by French multihull builder Lagoon, the Lagoon 51 is all about comfort, “en plein air,” in particular, as the French might say. Topside, a whopping 80 percent of the boat’s flybridge is given over to more