SPERRY CHARLESTON RACE WEEK, or Race Week, as the locals like to call it, will celebrate its 25th edition April 23–26, 2020. Competitors—including America’s Cup winners, Olympians, world champions, professionals, as well as cruisers and novices—from across the country and around the globe make an annual pilgrimage to Charleston to compete.
The regatta was established in 1996 by members of the Charleston Ocean Racing Association (CORA), a nonprofit organization that owns and manages Sperry Charleston Race Week. CORA was formed in 1967 and has been conducting races year-round in Charleston’s historic harbor and offshore waters since then. This year, 300 boats are expected to line up at the shores of Charleston Harbor.
In past editions, new classes (RS 21s and M32 multihulls in 2019), new formats (pursuit and hybrid-pursuit courses in recent years) and novel entertainment aspects, including a late afternoon pro-am competition, have been introduced. This year, longtime event director Randy Draftz and his volunteer corps have a few additional twists in store. For starters, the event will serve double duty as the ORC North American Trophy regatta, as well as a pre-Worlds tune-up for the Melges 24 Class—the 2020 M24 Worlds takes place in Charleston two weeks later.
“Each year in the off-season, our steering committee tweaks the programming so that we offer additional value for our participants,” says Draftz. “I think regulars at Race Week expect that because we’ve done it for over 20 years. A lot of the people who compete here know that we make every decision with
the competitors’ interests in mind. That outlook is essentially embedded in the DNA of this regatta.”
The four-day event will feature a waterfront Race Village, an outdoor beach area and terrace for sponsor exhibits, regatta parties, a live music stage and jumbotrons, as well as special events. The 4th annual Pro-Am Race, which has become a highlight of the event, will feature some of the most accomplished sailors in the sport.
You don’t have to be on the water to take in the action. There are several vantage points around Charleston Harbor that afford good views of the racing, including White Point Gardens on the Charleston Peninsula, Demetre Park on James Island and the Charleston Maritime Center. You can follow the action at charlestonraceweek.com.