Charleston Race Week has become one of, if not the largest multi-class regattas in the country over the past 6 years, in no small part due to Viper support and participation. It helps that in even-numbered years, the class makes the regatta its Atlantic Coast Championship and returns to find the bottomless Dark & Stormies at the post-race beach tents, the Goslings girls, the dozens of bachelorette parties in downtown Charleston, and even some racing when conditions allow. With experience comes wisdom – Viper sailors have improved their logistics by reserving multiple bays in advance that line the upwind side of the marina to cut down on docking chaos, have improved their ability to make a speedy departure from the crowded boatramp (though more launching options from regatta organizers solved this problem even more), and gamely requested a move to Circle 3 away from the infamous oyster bed at Middle Ground that has claimed many a Viper keel bulb.
The weather in 2014 was pretty nice for the 21-boat Viper fleet — no precipitation, air temperatures in the 70s all week after a brutal winter through much of the northeast and midwest, warm water, decent wind for 1.8 of the 3 days, and no carnage on the docks or ramps. If there was a downside to being on Circle 3 with our friends in the Melges 20 and 24 classes, it’s that the aesethetically pleasing but slower Melges 20s started 5 minutes ahead of the Vipers, resulting in the top half of the Viper fleet sailing through the bottom half of Melges 20 fleet in most races. In Sunday’s lone race, Jason Carroll’s team aboard Argo won the Viper race…and finished 4th in the Melges 20 fleet. Maybe next year we’ll be able to flip that and start before all of the Melges 20 general recalls.
Friday featured the best racing on Day 1, with 4 races in a building SSW breeze. Race 1 was held in a WNW breeze, and despite the pin being heavily favored, teams who got to the right early found a bit less current and slingshot around the fleet, led by Dave Hillmyer’s team from Sarasota aboard Viper 203 Peer Pressure, who led wire to wire. New owner from California Carson Reynolds finished second, chartering Viper 201 before taking title to Viper 187 the former “Born in the USA” later this month. Ted Green, Pete Largess and Nick Johnstone took race two after the breeze clocked more to the left and built to 14-17 kts to see more typical Charleston seabreeze conditions, while Phil Lotz’s Arethusa team won the final two races on the day. Green & Co. led after Day 1 with a very strong 3,1,2,2 line in Ted’s last Viper regatta on # 175, which is off to a new owner at Noroton YC while Ted embarks on a Paralympic campaign in 2.4 meters. Day 2 began with a 2.5 hour shore postponement while teams waited for the southerly to fill. Once it did, the RC managed two more races, with Argo and Arethusa splittings 1s and 2s, and Argo winning the day overall on a tiebreaker. However, with the discard race kicking in, Arethusa moved into the lead, though the points among the top 3 points were extremely tight.
Day 3 saw extremely light air. After a start and an unexplained RC abandonment halfway up the first beat, the fleets drifted for a few hours before the RC managed to get in the final Viper race a few minutes before the 1400 deadline for a warning signal. With the single race, all Lotz needed to do was finish 7th or higher to clinch the victory, which he did with a second place result. Argo’s final race win moved them ahead of Green for the silver, with the boys from Rhode Island finishing a strong third. Several new owners made their debut at Charleston, and we’re thrilled to welcome Reynolds, Warren Costikyan, Lawrence Cutler/Steve Minninger, Steve Taylor and Adam Asch to the class. Results.