The 2011 Charleston Race Week concluded on Sunday with a huge awards ceremony where we got to see some very happy Ullman customers. Kristin Lane finished in the top spot of the hugely competitive Melges 24 class and Alan Field's 'WTF' claimed third place. The Melges 24 class is preparing for the Worlds in Corpus Christie and many teams took the opportunity to get some practice in the heavy air conditions that should mimic the South Texas town later this year.
Bryan Taylor and his Viper 830 'Rented Mule' brought me along and I was very happy to have the chance to experience some more East coast Sailing. The regatta started Friday in very windy conditions and big seas... Well big if you are on the Viper 830 that has about 1 foot of freeboard! After a brisk 1 hour motor into huge chop and 25kts of breeze we finally made it to the course. The Sport-boat fleet comprised of a Farr 30, Thompson 30 and 750, Allure 30 and our team on the Viper 830. The conditions very much favoured the Farr 30 and their dominance persisted throughout the weekend as they displayed what a good team can achieve on the water. It took us a few races to get our group working on all cylinders and by then we had dug ourselves a pretty big hole to climb out of.
Unfortunately between the second and third race the Thompson 30 found themselves hard aground in a shallow that forced them to retire early for the day. The Thompson 750 also retired from the regatta after the heavy conditions took their tole on the little boat. The third race on Friday saw us hitting speeds of 16+ kts downwind as was surfed past the Melges 30 on our way to a second place finish.
Saturday was canceled due to a storm that rolled in so sailors were left to roam around the town... that is unless you were a Melges 24 sailor that wanted to practice. Alan Block from On The Water Anarchy set up some practice races that yielded some great footage. Check out Block Sailing for the action.
Sunday was the polar opposite of the first two days as the race committee struggled to get off two races in the light shifty breeze. A 3,2 rounded out the regatta for us but it was not enough to recover from the first day's mishaps to get on the podium.
The regatta was a huge success and everyone left on Friday in good sprits already talking about next year. Be sure to log into Ullman Sails TV for regatta videos.