Paraphrasing Uncle Ben’s legendary quote from Spiderman, Greg Fisher said the local sailing community has a lot of responsibility that comes with having such an ideal place for competitive racing.
Fisher, the director of sailing at the College of Charleston, believes the local area is rich with sailing enthusiasts.
Not to mention the five, successful regattas each year that place in and around the Holy City.
“Charleston is already one of the best places in the world for sailing, and we have all the tools here to make it even better,” Fisher said. “That starts with getting our kids involved.”
That’s the goal for the Charleston area’s yacht clubs and their racing events, starting with the James Island Yacht Club regatta this weekend.
The Hobcaw regatta is next, followed by the Charleston and Carolina regattas. The local season wraps up with the Rockville regatta in August.
The James Island Yacht Club is hosting its 62nd annual regatta on Saturday and Sunday, but is also in the midst of its summer camp for members and non-members.
And this year’s event includes a youth competition that will feature 20 to 30 kids.
“We want to cater to as many kids as possible, in hopes that they’ll take their interest to the next level,” said Vice Commodore Hap Lempesis.
The regatta starts Saturday with the Junior Course race at 12:30 p.m., followed by Sunday’s 11:55 a.m. start. The club is expecting minimal wind, but bright skies with temperatures in the mid-80s.
Lempesis says anywhere from 120 to 150 boats will be in play. That includes the youth contest, which falls in line with the club’s efforts to pass sailing traditions down to the kids.
“I’d say about 75 percent of our club membership is in their 40s and 50s,” he said. “That generation is putting kids in these camps. That’s what our sport needs.”
As for the club itself, it’s doing just fine. There are about 70 names on the waiting list to get in.
‘Good problem to have’
Other local yacht clubs are experiencing the same thing.
“For the last couple of summers, our calendars have been packed,” said Beth Colley, the sailing director of the Hobcaw Yacht Club in Mount Pleasant. “We have a waiting list for our summer camps.”
While they want to serve every kid who’s wants to sail, Colley said the list shows just how high the interest is in the Lowcountry.
“It’s a good problem to have,” she added.
Just like the JIYC, Hobcaw and the other clubs encourage families to work with the College of Charleston team.
Earlier this month, the Cougars captured their second consecutive Fowle Trophy, the highest honor in the nation. The trophy is awarded to the school with best total score across six sailing disciplines.
The team hosts Tuesday Night Racing each week, which allows the community to race for $10. Carter Cameron, one of the team’s best racers, says they see about 40 participants each week, ranging in age, gender, and experience.
That shows how accessible the sport is in Charleston, the rising senior said. And Cameron, who also teaches sailing during his summers, said ushering a new generation towards the water is one of the best parts.
“I’ve been sailing since I was, and racing since I was 10,” he said. “We all understand that if we want the sport to keep growing, we have to introduce it to our kids and make it as fun as possible.”