Charleston sailors Will Hanckel, Miles Martschink and Walter Prause, representing Carolina Yacht Club, have moved to the championship round of the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup being sailed in Newport, R.I., through this weekend.

The fleet is comprised of 24 yacht club teams from around the country, and there was heavy air for Wednesday's first day of racing thanks to the passing hurricane. The Carolina team won a qualifying regatta held here at Carolina YC earlier this year, an event sailed in J/22s provided by the College of Charleston. The NYYC Invitational Cup has been sailed in J/22s and Sonar class boats, and ironically, the Carolina team has placed higher in Sonars (two second-place finishes), in which they have less experience, than they have in J/22s.

Sailing in the 12-boat Blue Fleet, the Carolina trio placed third overall, 17 points out of second. In first place in their fleet is 2009 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year for America Bora Gulari, sailing for Detroit's Bayview YC. Gulari also won the Melges 24 class in Charleston Race Week 2010.

Scores are wiped clean to start the championship round, so now that they've made the cut, if the Carolina team finishes in the top three in this round, they get to come back to the NYYC Invitational next year and race in Swan 42 class yachts.

"The competition is very close between everyone and we are all mixing it up every race," Hanckel said. "It is like college sailing all over again."

High schools under way

The high school sailing season is just getting under way, and according to Charleston Community Sailing executive director Jessica Koenig, participation has never been stronger. Community Sailing provides all the boats and the facilities for local high school sailing teams to practice and hold regattas.

"In this summer's programs, we had over 250 local students participate. That's more than twice the amount of last year's participation," Koenig said. "We have nine high school teams participating this year, with the possibility of adding three middle school teams as well."

With the surge of participation in youth sailing, Community Sailing is continuing its quest for a permanent home that can adequately provide for the needs of the local public in a city with a growing reputation as one of America's best sailing destinations. "We want to find a place where we can fulfill our mission of providing access to all the public regardless of their means or their physical abilities," Koenig reiterated.

You can follow high school scores at charlestoncommunitysailing.org.

Time to furl sail

It's time again for this column to go on hiatus until next spring, but in the meantime, several significant sailing events warrant our attention and interest. First, Charleston's Brad Van Liew is competing in the Velux 5 Oceans Race. The race stops in Charleston next spring. Follow Brad's progress either on his personal website oceanracing.org or on the official race velux5oceans.com.

Also, Charleston is a national leader in fundraising for the annual Leukemia Cup Regatta, to be held here the weekend of Oct. 2. Support your local sailors as we raise money to fight blood cancers.

And finally, until this column returns, remember the words of Paul Carvel, "(He) who is staring at the sea is already sailing a little."

Reach Will Haynie at willh@thepickledish.com.