Charleston, SC – On the strength of a perfect scorecard earned in today’s three races, Steve and Heidi Benjamin’s Carkeek HPR 40 Spookie takes the early lead in the HPR class at the 2014 Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week. This puts the team three points ahead of current runner-up Decision, a near sistership to Spookie, owned and raced by Stephen Murray, Jr. Also racing in this class this week are two teams making their HPR class debut: Bill McKinley’s Carkeek HPR 40 Denali^2 and Jim Grundy’s brand-new Carkeek HPR 47 GrunDOOM.
“The team sailed very well, and I think the fact our crew has done a lot of sailing together has shown well today,” said Benjamin. “But its not going to get any easier as others start learning and improving for the rest of the event. This is the first-ever HPR class regatta where all entries are current generation designs, so it’s been great to test ourselves and have the battles we’re having out there on the race course.”
Race conditions on the offshore course area east of Charleston Harbor started as a light southerly, which gradually built and shifted to the southwest, with race manager Wayne Bretsch and his team adjusting the course gradually to suit the conditions. The first two races of the day were run on conventional three-lap windward-leeward courses, while the third and last race used a clever innovation that helped get boats back to the harbor fast and also showcase their speed and power to the rest of the classes racing in the harbor: a distance race to a finish set on the corner dock of the marina venue. After racing two laps around the buoys, the fleet raced up the Charleston Harbor channel, alternating between jibs and Code 0’s as they sped in with the tide at speeds close to the wind speed of 12 knots.
“This was really fun, and we hope to use this more in our inshore course formats,” said Murray, who having raced Decision in its first year 800 miles to Jamaica and then 650 miles to Bermuda, knows just a little about offshore racing. “This is a way we can test other skills and at the same time get back to the harbor fast.”
After racing a Class meeting was held to discuss topics related to continued technical development of the HPR rule, preferences for course formats and cost-control measures, the expansion of local and regional events using HPR in the US and potentially beyond, a poll of interest in calendar events for the remainder of 2014 and 2015, and an overview of new and existing designs which are joining the HPR fleet.
HPR class competition resumes tomorrow through Sunday, and even though lighter air is in the forecast for tomorrow, these lightweight HPR designs will remain ready to race.
For more information, results, photos and videos, go to www.charlestonraceweek.com.