Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week 2014 - Day 3 - Multiple Melges 24 Corinthian World Champ and longtime sportboat racer Bruce “Bruiser” Ayres and crew kept their cool in the hot sun to take the Melges 24 class win as well as the overall title
LEADERS HANG ON IN FALTERING BREEZE
Light Air Finale Helps Lake Sailors Stand Out at Sperry Top-Sider® Charleston Race Week
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (April 13, 2014) — It’s said that ‘light air makes the sailor,’ but keeping a boat moving in the barest zephyr is just one of the skills needed to take home a Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week trophy. This year’s exciting regatta featured a little of everything, from planing breeze on Friday afternoon to moderate but consistent winds on Saturday to today’s light airs. Those sailors who took their lead yesterday almost invariably held on for the overall win today.
One exception was Rochester-based skipper and professional sailing coach Mike Ingham, who came into today one point behind legendary Toledo, Ohio small-boat sailor Skip Dieball despite the Ingham winning four of the first six races.
“Skip did a better job of staying conservative, and that almost gave him the win even though we felt like we were quite a bit faster than him,” said Ingham. “With that boatspeed advantage, we probably should have been more conservative, but fortunately it worked out OK.” By “OK”, the longtime J/24 master meant that his crew came out on top in a two-way tie with Dieball, with Ingham’s first place finish in the final race making the difference, and giving Ingham his third Charleston Race Week Championship in four tries. Like many of his Midwestern counterparts, Ingham says he’ll be back to Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week for as long as it goes on. “There is no place quite like Charleston in April, and I’ll see you next year,” said Ingham.
Rob Britts (Davis Island, FL) moved up considerably after an extremely tough final day across the J/70 fleet. Britts went from 5th overall Corinthian (Amateur) trophy. “We’ve been sailing together for ten years, and as most sailors know, that’s one of the keys to sailing well,” said Britts. James Barnash, another Rochester sailor, won the J/70 Class.
The Viper Class continued a long tradition of breaking in new skippers at Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week; Four of the 21 teams featured brand new Viper owners sailing their first regattas IN the Class: Carson Reynolds from Newport Beach, CA placed as high as fourth before shuffling back to 7th, while Phil and Wendy Lotz, sailing with Olympic Finn sailor and US Sailing Team member Luke Lawrence aboard Arethusa, took a second place in their single race of the day, clinching the win over reigning Melges 32 World Champion Jason Carroll on Argo. Carroll’s crew didn’t mind taking second – he’s already won this event before. “Our first trip down gave us a Class win, and we had so much fun that we made our reservations for the next year even before we left Charleston,” said trimmer Chad Corning. “We've done that ever since, and that's what we're doing again today.”
Midwesterners also took the Tartan 10 Midwinters Championship on the offshore course; Leif Sigmond’s crew on Norboy (Chicago, IL) nipped their Great Lakes rivals on Scott Irwin’s Team “Iball” (Toledo, OH) by one point. “It was only fair” said Irwin, because "last year, we beat them by a single point when too much wind cancelled the final day. This year, they did the same to us.” Norboy crew Jeff Olshevki said they were upbeat despite the abandonment for the offshore circle. "The committee was really good about keeping all of us enthused and informed and trying to do the best they could with the conditions. We all think it's a really well run event, and it's great to be here after the winter we've had in Chicago this year."
Denny Manrique’s Minnesota-based crew crushed the competition in PHRF D with an all-bullet performance aboard Island Flyer; it was their third try at Race Week, and a solid progression from fourth in 2012 to second last year to first this year. “It’s really coming together with Denny and the crew, and what a great feeling to finally win this prestigious trophy by such a big margin,” said crew Sean Hendrickson.
Rochester’s Todd and Ryan Howe – longtime racers aboard the ultra-fast 60’ trimaran “Earth Voyager” and multiple Great Lakes record holders – took the inaugural Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week multihull championship. It’s fitting that two of the fastest sailors in Great Lakes history should break new ground in Charleston.
Every year, the organizers of Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week hand out two of the most sought-after awards in American sailing, and this year, the Palmetto Cup (the award for the best overall performance by a boat in the handicap classes) went to “Cool Breeze,” John Cooper’s custom Mills 43 out of Lake Stockton, Missouri. Cooper’s performance stood out in the very tough PHRF A fleet, which put him up against three-time Charleston Race Week winner Robin Team’s J/122 “Teamwork” and the Chesapeake Bay light-air specialists aboard the J/111 “Spaceman Spiff.” Breeze edged out Spiff by just a point, with one point further back to Team.
The Charleston Race Week Trophy, awarded for the best overall one-design performance, was awarded to multiple Melges 24 Corinthian World Champion Bruce Ayres (Newport Beach, CA) aboard Monsoon. “Light air or heavy air, the group that I had with me just dealt with whatever we saw without drama,” said Ayres.
Photo : Meredith Block