Even a dinghy could have told you Friday was a perfect day to be out on the water.

With breezes a steady 15 to 20 knots all day long, organizers of Charleston Race Week, the annual regatta that lures sailors from all across the globe to our local waterways, couldn't have asked for more.

"The wind has been ripping all day," said Race Director Randy Draftz with a bit of a sinister laugh. "It was kind of baptism under fire. We definitely shook their cobwebs out today."

Friday marked the first day of competition of the event open to any and all One-Design boats 20-70 feet in length as well as boats falling into the PHRF (performance handicap racing fleet) category.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, it means racers can enter their boats against other people with the exact same kind of boat or be handicapped depending on what kind of craft they have, thus leveling the playing field.

Draftz said racing was fierce Friday, highlighted by lots of close finishes as well as a few wrecks, something he says is just part of good, competitive sailing. Will Haynie, CEO of the S.C. Maritime Foundation -- the organization that puts on the event that's in its 15th year -- echoed Draftz's feelings, saying: "Day One couldn't have gone better."

Haynie said participants have been raving about the event since the moment they got into town. More than 190 people signed up, some coming from as far away as Canada, Germany and California.

"I think that has to do with the fact that we're handling the growth great but we haven't lost that local feel," Haynie said.

Race Week continues through Sunday, with as many as three to four heats competing each day in Charleston Harbor and several more offshore past the jetties.

Tickets are still available for today ($25) and Sunday ($20). They include access to race headquarters at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina in Mount Pleasant, as well as admission to that evening's party with live music and an open bar.

For more information on Race Week or to order tickets go to www.charlestonraceweek.com