File // Wade Spees // The Post and Courier
Former College of Charleston sailor Ned Goss will take part in the 16th Charleston Race Week, which begins today and runs through Sunday.
About 2,000 sailors are set to take part in the Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race week starting today, some 75 percent of them from outside South Carolina.
"They come from all over," said veteran Lowcountry sailor Ned Goss. "Italy, Bermuda, Canada, California. We've got former world champions, America's Cup guys, some of the best sailors in the world."
And that's one reason Race Week means so much to Charleston sailors.
"It's an opportunity for us to show what we are about," said Goss, a former College of Charleston sailor who runs the Ondeck Charleston Ocean Sailing Academy. "Everyone here feels that Charleston has some of the best sailors also, and that shows in Race Week. Usually, you see quite a few of us in the top spots."
Last year, for example, Lowcountry sailors such as David Dabney, Kenneth King, Don Terwilliger, Will Hanckel and Jackson Benvenutti scored high finishes in their divisions. This year, there are more than 50 owner/ skippers from the Lowcountry entered.
"That speaks strongly of Charleston sailing," Goss said. "Charleston is a great place to sail, with strong breezes and currents. You really have to pay attention to the elements, knowing what the wind will do and what the current will do. To be able to read that is important for local sailors to be able to compete against the top sailors and do well."
The home harbor advantage can work against Lowcountry sailors, though. Sailors like Goss, who race a boat themselves and volunteer to help out with Race Week, find themselves working frantically in the days leading up to Race Week.
"When you go away for a regatta, you just have to worry about your own boat," Goss said. "Here, helping with Race Week and sailing is one of the hardest things. You are wearing a lot of hats at the same time, getting boats ready for racing. We also have a sponsorship, so we're setting up a tent for that and talking to a lot of people.
"I was working last night until about midnight, and then was back at it at 7 this morning, launching boats. But it is a lot of fun."
Goss himself will be sailing with David O'Reilly in the one-design Melges 24 division board the ARDOR/C.R.E.A.M. It's one of the largest fleets in the regatta, with some 55 boats.
"Melges 24 is great because everybody is in the same boat with the same sails," Goss said. "It really makes it about racing and much more of a tactical competition. The boats all have equal speed, so there is no advantage one way or the other."
With 282 boats racing on five courses this year, Charleston Race Week is the largest regatta on the East Coast and the third-largest in the United States. Charleston Race Week is 16 years old, and Goss said in the early years there might be 50 boats on two courses.
"It's pretty impressive what's happened with this event," he said.