Charleston Race Week Day 1

Everything is light for day 1 in Charleston, light wind, light rain. Still enough to complete 4 races on inshore circles 1 & 2, 3 races on circle 3, 3 races on Offshore circle 4 and 2 races on circle 5.

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Friday 17, 2015)—CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Friday 17, 2015)— The scene on the waters off Charleston today couldn’t have been more different from that day in April 1996 when it all began. Only 29 competitors – all of them local – graced the scratch sheet 20 years ago. Friday morning, on the first day of racing for Sperry Charleston Race Week 2015, nearly 300 boats from 11 nations and 20 states set off from Patriot’s Point to claim their place in the event’s history.

While the action and competition was indeed hot, the weather wasn’t – it unseasonably light and chilly conditions with occasional drizzle evened the playing field between the newbies and the old Charleston salts, helping some of the event’s international competitors score big.

Foreign skippers have the top two spots in by far the largest class in the regatta, the 83-boat J/70 Class.  Despite never having even seen Charleston Harbor, Oslo, Norway’s Norwegian Steam sailed a strong 1,6,5 day to own second place in the ultra-competitive class racing on Charleston Harbor. Despite the swift, complex currents flowing through that course, crew Thomas Nilsson said the wind strength was far more important.  “We spent a bit of time in the morning figuring out the current, but for us, it was far more important to end up on the side with more wind pressure and try to get off the line well,” said Nilsson. “It’s definitely a unique place to sail, and a very fun place to be!”

Ahead of Norwegian Steam lies Mexico City’s Flojito Y Cooperando, with Charleston newcomer Julian Fernandes Neckelmann at the helm. Don’t let Neckelmann’s boat name (loosely translated as ‘laid back’) fool you – this Mexican racer has serious driving skills, and his crew includes Bill Hardesty and Willem “Creature” Van Waay – who collectively own about 10 world championship titles. Interestingly, the Norwegians picked up the Mexican’s first-place flag at the awards ceremony on Friday evening and then presented it to them in the hotel lobby the following morning. Now that’s international sportsmanship.

Other international entrants shone equally brightly on Friday’s inshore courses as well. Brazilian native and Miami resident Cesar Neto Gomez’s Portobello showed major speed in the tough Audi Melges 20 Class, which is contesting its national championship here.  Neto Gomez leads by 3 points over longtime Etchells standout Bruce Golison, while Canada’s Paul Currie leads the non-professional subclass. In the Melges 24 Corinthian class, Norway’s Jens Wathne (Party Girl) sits just behind amateur leader Dan McGraw (Blue Steel).

Offshore the story is similar, with international competitors showing plenty of prowess. Torquay, England’s Joe Woods took two bullets to lead Charleston’s first-ever Farr 280 one-design class with his crew aboard Red, while Canada’s Rob Butler and his electric pink Touch2Play team lead the J/88 Class on a tiebreak. And Bermuda’s John Streicker and his crew aboard his NY40 Defiant have the final podium spot for the moment in Pursuit-Spinnaker class.

But an American is providing the best story of the regatta so far. Twelve-year-old Gannon Troutman helmed Pied Piper on Friday to an astonishing 4th place in a J/70 fleet, which is loaded with some of America’s best sailors.  It was no fluke, either – despite sailing for just four years, the pint-sized phenom scored a top-ten finish at Key West Race Week back in January. Calm, cool, and collected, Gannon seems to take the pressure in stride despite the tough conditions. “The current is ripping, the harbor is tricky, but I go out there, try to stay focused, and just do my thing,” he said.  “I think more kids my age should be driving boats like this.  It’s the best experience anyone can have.”

Racing will continue this morning (Saturday, April 18) after a two-hour postponement as a stalled frontal system lingering over the Southeast region has meant uncharacteristic weather conditions.

For more information, please visit You can also follow the event on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Sailing for Disabled Veterans

Published on Sep 30, 2014

This video highlights a collaboration between US Sailing and two sailing centers, BAADs and Piers Parks Sailing Center. The goal of the collaboration was to facilitate Paralympic-sport programming for disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces.

Grant funding for this program was awarded by US Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee, through funding provided by Veterans Affairs.

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KEY WEST to CUBA sailing club KWACS

Uploaded on Feb 12, 2009

CUBA from Key West is only 90 miles. That makes Havana closer to Key West than MIAMI. These intrepid adventurers took to crossing the Florida Straits on HOBIE CATAMARANS! Crazy.

Don’t you think it’s about time for the KWACS (Key West Association of Catamaran Sailors) to do it again?

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Wrecker’s Race 2014 Final

Published on May 3, 2014

The Key West Wrecker’s Cup Race Series has run it’s 32nd year in 2014. A series of 4 monthly races (to the rum) with “basically” no rules provides great fun and entertainment for all. If you don’t have a boat you can charter a seat on one of the classic schooners that run regularly out of Key West’s Historic Seaport and Schooner Wharf Bar. The races run the last Sunday of each month, January thru April. This is a strait out drag race to the reef in the tradition of the early Key West Wreckers. First to the wreck gets first negotiation rights (if they can fend off the rest) to salvage the wreck.

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29th Annual Key West Wereckers Race Series 3-30-2014

Published on Apr 1, 2014

The Wreckers Race Series is an annual Key West event sponsored by the Schooner Wharf Bar. The purpose is to have some “No Protest” fun in an event which re-enacts the Key West wreckers of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. A flat out drag race from Key West Bight to the reef at Sand Key Light would determine who gets first salvage rights of the shipwrecks on the reef. The series is held on the last Sunday of each month from January thru April.

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Salona Yachts

Published on Mar 18, 2014

At Strictly Sail Miami we were able to get a few words from Alex Sastre of Coconut Grove , Florida as he was just kicking of the introduction of Salona Yachts to the United States market. Alex tells us about the exciting new line-up along with design details.

See all the Salona Yachts at

Alex can be reached at 305 504 8714305 504 8714 or

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