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Sail Scene Mid Atlantic

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Weather warnings end Charleston Race Week

Tornado warnings and bridge closures made the Race Committee’s decision to abandon all racing on April 15, Day 3 of Charleston Race Week, an easy one.

“Around 8 this morning, a handful of skippers begged me to let them race today, assuring me that they could handle the breeze, which was blowing around 25 knots at that time,” said event director Brad Van Liew. “I told them that they could handle it now, but they were not going to be able to handle 11.”

Brad’s high confidence in the forecast proved justified, as the breeze steadily built to a sustained 35 knots, with gusts of over 60 knots recorded in a line squall. After the party tent collapsed on itself, the awards ceremony was moved into one of the resort’s conference rooms while the kitchen staff prepared the traditional Charleston Ocean Racing Association chili buffet.

All Class winners picked up their trophies, along with a VHF from Raymarine and a Gosling’s Dark ‘n Stormy gift pack.

“We’ve got a very happy crew, and I just hope that some of our Gosling’s prize is left by the time we get on the plane. I’m not optimistic,” said Melges 24 winner Simon Strauss.

Key Biscayne sailor Steven Stollman won the Palmetto Cup, a 20-inch-tall sterling silver cup awarded to the overall PHRF champion. The cup had already been around for decades when it was requisitioned as the overall award for the first Charleston Race Week. This is Stollman’s second consecutive overall win at Charleston Race Week, with Primal Scream, a C&C 115 he’s owned for only two years.

J/105 Class winner Brian Keane and Savasana won the Charleston Race Week Cup in recognition of the best performance of any one-design competitor. Keane is also a consecutive two-time winner here, and his Massachusetts crew considers this a high point of their travel schedule.

Happy ending at Annapolis NOOD

Brilliant weather conditions and 10 to 15 steady knots of wind was finally delivered off Annapolis April 29 to wrap up the Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta in style after enduring two days of postponed racing.

Paul Van Ravenswaay of Annapolis, Md., on Millennium Falcon was named the regatta’s overall winner among the 270 boats entered and received a Sunsail charter during the 2007 Sperry Top-Sider NOOD Regatta Championship, in the British Virgin Islands, where he will compete against the overall winners from each stop on the nine-regatta NOOD circuit. Van Ravenswaay finished 2 points over Tony Parker of Annapolis on Bangor Packet to win the 16-boat J/24 class.

With four races in the first two days and only two races left to break the tie in the Etchells class, Rob Hitchcock of Dorchester, Mass., and Raymond Harrington of Bomoseen, Vt., needed every ounce of luck and skill for both races. After Harrington finished sixth in the first race, he fell behind Hitchcock by three points in the 17-boat class. Things went his way in the last race; he finished in second place and Hitchcock slipped back to seventh place to give Harrington the class win. Joseph Bainton of Stamford, Conn., put the pressure on the rest of the top five boats, finishing fourth in the first race, and then winning the last to take third overall.

Last year’s overall champion, Greg Fisher of Annapolis repeated his winning ways and won the 37-boat J/22 class over Pete McChesney of Annapolis by three points.

John Stefancik of Severna Park, Md., won both of the final day’s races and swept the six-boat S2 9.1 class on his Hurricane Kelley. The top two boats in the Cal 25 class continued to duke it out among themselves with Jimmy Praley of Annapolis on Upchuck winning by tiebreaker with Timoth Bloomfield of Sherwood Forest, Md., on White Cap.

Excitement continued in the S2 7.9 class where after the first race, Bob Fleck’s Horizon of Alexandria, Va., led David Flechsig’s Rooster Tail of Port Charlotte, Fla., by one point even though Fleck won the race. Fleck won the last race giving it the class overall win.

As in most of the classes, the top two Melges 24s were tied for the lead going into the final races. In the end, it came down to the final race. Chris Larson of Annapolis, sailing on Panic Attack, finished yards ahead of the competition and was planning to compete in the class’ world championship.

Big Kahuna, the J/30 owned by Larry Christy of Annapolis, placed second in the last two races, to take the class win by two points over Smiles, owned by John McArthur of Stratford, Conn. Local sailor Grealy Putnam’s Better Mousetrap finished in third.

With only one race tallied before Sunday, the J/105 class turned in two races and Peter Schellie’s Freedom of Annapolis did well in the last race, finishing third, and won the 45-boat class over Marty Hublitz’s Veloce from McLean, Va.

In a tremendous comeback, Jim Richardson of Boston and his Barking Mad won both races to move up to second overall in the nine-boat Mumm 30 class. After recovering from a premature start that left him in seventh overall, they excelled in the strong 15-knot wind to win both races and finish second overall, one point behind Black Seal, owned by Kevin Young of Windmere, Ohio.

In the Melges 32 class — racing for its East Coast Championship — Michael Carroll and Martin Kullman’s New Wave of Tampa, Fla., turned in a consistent day with a 2-1 and finished first overall, just three points ahead of Ramrod, owned by Rodrick Jabin of Annapolis. In third place in the 13-boat class was Star, owned by Jeff Ecklund of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The Melges 24, Underdog, owned by Peter Wenzler of Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., was selected as the Sperry Top-Sider Boat of the Day and each crewmember will receive a pair of performance Sperry Top-Sider shoes.