Fisher shines in Race Week finale

Open ocean swells rising over seven feet kept things interesting Sunday for Circles 4 and 5 during the Race Week finale.

The heavy weather forecast failed to materialize Sunday, and unsettled conditions meant different challenges throughout the three race areas of Charleston Race Week.

Within a 10-mile radius, both the offshore and inshore racing classes sailed between none and three races for the final day of the country’s largest keelboat regatta.

Greg Fisher took the 15-boat J/22 class by nine points, earning the College of Charleston’s sailing director the Perpetual Trophy for top one-design performance. A huge cheer went out from the crowd for the adopted Charlestonian, who sailed with wife Jo-Ann, College of Charleston freshman and varsity sailor Allie Blumenthal and longtime crew Jeff Eiber.

The local favorites aboard the J/120 Emocean were overjoyed at their victory in PHRF C.

“We put the band back together and everything just fell into place,” said helmsman Will Hanckel. “Eight of the original 11 Emocean crew were with us this week, and their skill and our communication level aboard made things almost easy.”

Mount Pleasant sailor Joseph Hanna took the overall award for the Cruising Division, which raced a single, 26-mile course each day rather than the short courses raced by the rest of the fleets. “We loved the challenge and the pursuit starts, and I am convinced that there are dozens and dozens of cruising skippers that would love to sail next year’s event on this course,” said Hanna. “In fact, I just told (Race Week chairman) Randy (Draftz) a few minutes ago that when word gets out, this will become the fastest-growing fleet at the event. Bring ‘em on!”

“These were some of the most challenging conditions we’ve seen ever at Race Week in Charleston,” said Draftz.

One of the most competitive fleets in town, with America’s Cup sailors and world champions on many of the boats, was the Melges 20 fleet, and that competitiveness was on display in morning for Race 9 of the series. Detroit racer Marc Hollerback scored the victory, while overnight leader Russ Lucas and his crew of Harry and Hans Melges on board Shimmer had one of their worst results of the event, an eighth place. Second place Layline Race Team finished just ahead of Lucas, while 2011 winner Michael Kiss got second place.

Another huge rivalry came down to the wire in the J/24 class, where Travis Odenback led Mike Ingham until the final race.

The regatta’s other perpetual award, The Palmetto Cup, which is given to the top performing boat in the PHRF classes, was awarded to Bob Moran and his crew on board the J/111 Ragin’ out of Herndon, Va.