Charleston Race Week 2019 Sailing Recap

We had a great time in Charleston Sailing at Race Week this year … AS ALWAYS!

This year was a big change for us; we moved up to the pursuit spinnaker class after several years racing in the pursuit non-spinnaker class. Since there were four times as many boats in the spinnaker class the competition was incredible. CRW is one of the weeks I look forward to each year. The level of effort put in by the organizers, the race officials and the hundreds of volunteers is off the chart and it shows. This year was not our best race week, I hope we don’t have another year like this any time soon. Let me tell you about Charleston Race Week 2019 for team Peregrine

Sailing Day 1

The first day we had good wind; our start was not great but we were across the line within a minute of our start so not a disaster. We sailed very competitively to about the midpoint of the jetty and then seemed to lose our edge and some time against our competition which we weren’t able to recover. After the 13-14 gate we were able to sail a direct course with our symmetrical spinnaker. The asymmetric boats were forced to tack down to the mark, generating more boat speed but sailing a longer distance. For the boats nearest us it seemed to work in our favor. We were a little slow getting the spinnaker gear out of the way for the upwind leg which hurt us. We sailed most of our legs smoothly and with good boat speed.

Sailing Day 2

This was the light air day, so light that that it was very difficult to maintain steerage approaching the line. The RC choose course 1 which was the shortest of the courses to ensure that boats would get finished at a reasonable hour. As a result, boats were bunched at the line. We were third in a line of boats approaching the mark in sequence to make our starts pretty close to on time. Unfortunately, we were on a port tack and another boat with a slightly later start came in on starboard tack and rained on our parade. The first two boats were smaller and were able to tack away, Peregrine weighs in at almost 30,000 lbs so in the light air our only option was to fall off. The starboard tack boat was moving slowly as well and we ended up drifting into their stern rail which would have resulted in a legitimate protest if it had been filed.

After circling around we were able to make our start about two minutes late and continued on the with the race. Fighting an incoming tide in the light wind was a challenge and the fleet started to bunch up just past Fort Sumter outside the side of the channel. At this point we along with a number of boats decided to drop anchor to wait for the wind to pick up or the tide to slack. Shortly after 12:30 the race committee abandoned the race and everyone motored back to the dock and the evening’s festivities.

The remnants of our asymmetrical spinnaker.

The Conclusion

The final day was one of those days that we should have stayed at the dock and enjoyed the weather. We were a little early to the line and were luffing to kill speed but drifted toward the port (pin) end of the line. As a result, we weren’t able to make the mark. We hit the tetrahedron, fouled it’s anchor line on our prop and dragged downwind. We dropped our anchor and our sails and put one of the crew in the water to free the fouled mark. After much struggle we were able to free ourselves. We hoisted sail and began to sail off of our anchor only to run aground, we were able to free ourselves from the soft grounding and then began to sail the course (about 40 minutes after our start time).

We checked in with the RC to verify that we had in fact started by crossing the line even though we hit the mark. The sail out of the channel went smoothly and we were able to get some great pictures of the incoming fleet. Once we rounded the mark and started our return we hoisted our asymetrical spinnaker for the broad reach in and were enjoying a fantastic ride. Just as we entered the jetty’s we blew out the spinnaker. I didn’t want to risk another sail for what was going to be an inevitable last place finish, so we sailed in under white sails alone.

Commentary

After going back and looking at the start sequence and thinking about what we’d seen in past years, it seems like the Pursuit Class at CRW has become a victim of its own success. The pursuit class was developed to encourage cruisers to participate without the stress of a normal race start. The our first few years of racing, the pursuit start worked great; you had the line to yourself. This year the line was a zoo! There were three fleets using the line with 53 boats (15 hybrid pursuit, 17 spin A, 14 spin B, 7 non-spin ) across all the classes. With that many boats trying to stay close because of the incoming tide and light winds, the starting area was very crowded. I’ve heard other captains mention this as well.

For illustration, say that boats will be in a box bounded by the starting line plus 3 boat lengths and about 10 boat lengths deep for the 3 minutes before their start and up to 2 minutes after their start. For Peregrine sailing course 1 there were up to 7 boats in the box at once. Estimating an average boat length of 38′. A rule of thumb for line length is 1.25 (Race Management Handbook p. 215) times the length of the boats starting, so in our case a 332′ line. I didn’t measure it but it seemed like the line was under 300′ so rather tight at that point in the sequence. The shallow water off the port side of the line meant that boats couldn’t maneuver that side of the course. The RC/PRO did work hard to keep the line clear of non-starting boats and I really appreciate their efforts.

Suggestions

In the interest of making every year better, perhaps next year we could find a starting location that offers good depth on both sides of the line and allows us to stretch the line out to accommodate the bulges in the starting sequences. One option would be either back into the harbor about 0.4 nm near the Range “C” line. Another would be out into the channel in the area South of G21 near dynamite hole. Thanks again to all the volunteers and organizers that make this fantastic event possible! I’m looking forward to an amazing Charleston Race Week next year.

Sailing in Charleston is always a lot of fun, the weather is frequently excellent and there are a lot of things to see around the harbor. Peregrine is available to charter for your next adventure, visit our website to reserve your date!

The Epicenter of Sailing – Charleston

Every April the focus of sailing in North America shifts to Charleston. Hundreds of boats and thousands of sailors descend on the Holy City to participate in the largest keel boat regatta in North America. Welcome to Charleston Race Week!

Sailors at all different levels from world class one-design racers to local weekend sailors come together to test themselves. The variable spring winds and the challenging currents of Charleston harbor make for an exciting event.

Crew at award ceremony 2nd place sailing in pursuit non-spinnaker class, Charleston Race Week 2017
At the 2017 award ceremony – 2nd Place!

The Charleston Ocean Racing Association founded CRW as a regional event in 1996. The purpose is to promote sailing and sailing opportunities in the Charleston area. From a few local boats it has grown to 250-300 boats from all over the world. For a more detailed history of the event, take a look at the Charleston Race Week history page.

We’ve been sailing in race week for several years now and are still relative new-comers. We’ve had a good track record in the non-spinnaker pursuit class (a 1st and a 2nd in four years of racing). This year we’ve decided to step up to the spinnaker class and are looking forward to some exciting racing. As of this writing, there are 23 boats in the class including a Dragon, a Class 40 racing boat. This will definitely push us to up our game!

Watching CRW sailing

One of the great things about CRW is that many of the event venues are visible from shore. As a result, you can see some of the excitement without setting foot in a boat.
Some of the best options are:

  • White Point Gardens
  • Charleston Maritime Center – South Carolina Aquarium
  • Demetre Park on James Island

In addition to your shore-side viewing opportunities, there are a number of tour boats that provide a great on the water view. If you charter, please don’t ask your captain to sail along with the race boats. We were shadowed by a charter catamaran during a race a few years ago and that was very frustrating.

Joining in the fun

After each day’s sailing there are epic parties at the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina. Tickets are available at the door so no advance planning is required. If you stop in make sure and say “Hi”, we’ll be wearing the Peregrine team shirts.

For a spirited sail around Charleston Harbor, or a more relaxing tour please consider booking a private yacht charter with us; after we’re done racing. If you don’t have a boat and have your heart set on bringing your team to CRW, lets talk about 2020.

The special occasion season!

We’d love to help you plan an escape for your special occasion! If you live in the Northern half of the country, you most likely still have a fair bit of cold weather left. On the other hand, after a cold December (for Charleston) the weather in Charleston has been decidedly pleasant. As a result, people are thinking about sailing and our charter calendar is starting to fill up. Charleston is one of the top wedding destinations in the country and also a great place for a bachelor or bachelorette party. We’ve had the pleasure of hosting a number of these events aboard Peregrine and treasure making them even more memorable.

young couple on a sailboat
A happy couple enjoying Charleston from the water

Whether your looking for a romantic trip for two along the Charleston waterfront at sunset or bringing the party with you, we have a number of great itineraries.

Some past bachelorette parties have included enjoying the sun after a swim just off of the beach and or just lounging on the deck for a relaxing sail. We’ve also teamed with other boats for a bachelor party regatta for a really exciting outing.

If there’s a wedding in your future or if you want to make an anniversary extra special, please call on us for a personalized charter experience. We look forward to adding the special to your special occasion.

Captain Tim Vienneau has been messing about with boats since his first sailboat at age 11. He’s been introducing people to sailing for years and takes every opportunity to share his adopted hometown of Charleston.

The Sailing Safety Race

I was discussing sailing safety the other day with several other racing sailors and came up with the idea of a Sailors Safety Race. The intent is to provide crews an opportunity to make time to practice critical safety drills and, because we’re more than a little competitive, to have some fun. I’ve based these scenarios on the training requirements outlined in the World Sailing Special Regulations as well as notes from other safety classes race preparations that I’ve been involved with.

DISCLAIMER: The the skills described here, particularly putting a person in the water, are inherently risky. The club along with the skipper of each vessel will need to develop risk mitigation strategies such as employing a safety boat, etc. to conduct the event with an acceptable level of risk. You are using these ideas at your own risk!

Start / Leg 1

Sailboats racing in Charleston Harbor.

Man Overboard start (from an area behind a very long starting line) – At the horn the MOB goes into the water, from a boat with all sails up and underway on a broad reach after the MOB is recovered and in the boat sail to the first mark. As an alternate boats may recover a dummy/float with a 3-5 minute penalty. The reason for the penalty is that bringing a person back aboard is not a trivial task.

Leg 2

Tiller Failure/Alternate steering – sailed without use of the boats normal helm (tiller or wheel lashed to centered), helm is restored when four boat lengths from the mark (it may also be unlashed for safety purposes to avoid collisions etc. at a 1:1 time penalty, for example 30 seconds unlashed incurs a 30 second add to course time.

Leg 3

Fire drill – each crew member under the owners/captains supervision locates each portable fire extinguisher on the vessel. This is also a great opportunity to agitate your dry chemical fire extinguishers. After the last crew member has finished place an orange cushion on the deck above the galley or (other fuel source) representing a fire, position the boat with the fire downwind and come to a full stop, douse the fire with a bucket of water and then continue around the mark.

Leg 4

Finish Abandon ship preparation – each crew member under the owners/captains supervision will open and then close (or close and re-open) each sea-cock on the vessel the last crew-member will locate the ships ditch bag, at the finish one crew-member could disembark and present the ditch bag, take a photo of the open bag and send, etc. to the race committee. Time bonuses will be awarded for completeness of the ditch bag.

What additional skills would you add to the event? Which of these are you comfortable that your crew could execute without your help?

Sailing safety is a primary consideration whenever we go out, the Peregrine racing program’s stated priorities are “Be safe, have fun, win!” We carry those same values to our charter experience and we’d love to have you come join us!

Adventurer’s Pizza

The other day I dug out a pizza recipe that was originally developed for camping; but is also well suited to preparation aboard or in any environment where time and refrigeration are a minimum. Hence the new name and slightly modified recipe.

We set the following goals for our recipe:

  1. Needed to be quick to fix so no yeast.
  2. Minimal number of liquid ingredients.
  3. Ingredients that didn’t need refrigeration.
  4. Simple enough to put together in camp with minimal work space.

By the end of the weekend we’d worked out a pretty decent pizza that cooked up in…

  • a hot Dutch oven for 5-10 minutes.
  • a conventional oven for 15-17 minutes at 425.
  • an MSR aluminum pot on a white gas camp stove medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  • the boat oven at 325 for about 25 minutes.

More toppings will increase the cooking time.

Incidentally, I’ve also used the crust recipe to make a very tasty personal size loaf of bread.

Camp Pizza Crust (makes one 9″ pizza):

Mix the following dry ingredients in a zip-lock bag:

  • 1 c. All purpose flour (If you use wheat flour you will need more liquid).
  • 1/2 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp salt

When ready to prepare add the following liquid ingredients and mix/knead:

  • 1/3-1/2 c. of warm Water
  • 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil

Pour about 1 tsp. of Olive Oil on the sheet, pan or pot and spread around the bottom to keep the dough from sticking.

Spread the dough in the bottom of the pot making a slightly thicker crust around the edges.

Camp Pizza Sauce (enough for two or three 9″ pizzas):

  • 6 oz. can Tomato Paste
  • 3 oz. (half can) Water
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Spread the sauce on the the pizza crust.

Add toppings of your choice (these are mine):

  • 1/2-1 c. Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/2 c. Sliced Green Pepper
  • 1/2 c. Sliced Red Pepper
  • 1/2 c. Diced Pineapple
  • 1/2 c. Cooked Italian Sausage

To further reduce refrigeration needs, you can change from sausage to a hard salami, change to one of the many un-refrigerated cheese options and keep your fruit or vegetable toppings uncut until you are ready to use them; or use dried fruits.

Give it a try and let us know how it turned out for you, and what your favorite toppings are.

You can also book a charter and make arrangements to enjoy Adventurer’s Pizza aboard Peregrine on your next adventure!

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Captain Tim has been sailing since he was 11 and enjoys sharing his love of the ocean. He’s also been active in Scouting where he first developed the Camp Pizza.

Splicing high performance lines

Over the winter there are fewer pleasant sailing days; although, I’ve been out for about a half dozen beautiful days Of sailing since Christmas (including one day when half the crew was in shorts). As a result I have some time to catch up on projects. We picked up some new Samson Ropes LiteSpeed, which has a Dyneema core and MFP cover, to use for light air spinnaker sheets.

The specification sheet calls for a class II double braid splice; which I completely failed to accomplish. In my defense the cover is very tightly woven and the splice jammed when I was attempting to bury it.

After that disappointment, I decided to switch to a Simple Double Braid Dyneema eye splice, which leaves an uncovered eye.

This splice uses a D-Splicer, which for the size rope I was using, I was able to fabricate out of an old coat hanger; the key was to go over the whole thing with 320 grit sandpaper to keep it from snagging on the Dyneema fibers. This went much more smoothly and both splices ended up looking nice and strong. This is also a relatively quick splice, so it will probably become my go to splice for core dependent lines.

We’re now one step closer to being ready for the Spring racing season.

Captain Tim Vienneau has been messing about with boats since his first sailboat at age 11. He is a regular in the Charleston Sailboat racing scene and takes every opportunity to introduce people to the sport and share his adopted hometown of Charleston!