Race Week sailing gets under way

Whether racing inshore or offshore, the conditions and fronts that roll through the Lowcountry this time of year are bound to challenge even the best skippers and tacticians.

Meredith Block

Charleston Race Week gets under way today with top-flight competitors across a record-setting field of sailboat entries.

Nearly 1,500 sailors rigged lines, tuned masts, and set sails on the edge of Charleston Harbor on Thursday as they prepared for today's 10 a.m. offshore and 11 a.m. inshore start. Teams ventured out in winds of over 25 knots to practice maneuvers and tune up against other teams.

Mark Ivey, a 2005 Team Race world champion, was set to sail in the 30-boat Melges 24 fleet on Charleston local Guy Mossman's Battle Rhythm.

Melges 32 world champion skipper Pieter Taselaar will be making his Charleston debut this year in his chartered Viper 640 Bliksem, and with 29 other boats, the class ties the Melges 24 as the largest on hand for Race Week.

The US J/80 class is another that has turned out in strong numbers this year. Many of the nearly 200 boats in town are return visitors. During Race Week, sailors will race in 15 different one-design and handicap classes on four different race courses: two inside the harbor, and two outside.

Today's Schedule—8 a.m.:

Harbor start for offshore courses.

10 a.m.:

Offshore (circles 3 and 4) first warning signal.

11 a.m.:

Inshore (circles 1 and 2) first warning signal.