While many regattas around the world are still getting canceled because of coronavirus, Charleston Race Week pressed forward with its 25th anniversary celebration. It came one year late since the 2020 edition was canceled due to the developing pandemic last April. Mass vaccinations combined with a decrease in positive cases throughout most of the United States prompted longtime event director Randy Draftz to forge forward with a Charleston Race Week 2021. Regatta management did so with an abundance of caution, and numerous precautions were put into place to ensure the event was held in a safe and responsible manner. For this year, the focus on April 9-11 was fully on producing top-notch racing, and on that front the regatta was a tremendous success. Classes on Circle 1 (VX One), Circle 3 (J/88, J/105, ORC D) all reached 10 races, while those on Circle 2 (J/70, Melges 24) and Circle 4 (J/22, J/24, PHRF Inshore) finished with nine. “We appreciate all the hospitality down here. The race committee did a fantastic job, and the regatta seemed to work even with COVID. It was refreshing to be able to get out and compete,” said John Leahy, skipper of the J/88 class winner Dutch. Leahey took the lead in the J/88 fleet with a strong day on the water Saturday and then held off Andy Graff and Exile Sunday to earn his most notable victory since joining the Class three years ago. He credited the coaching of Quantum pro Kris Werner and weather support from Matt Gallagher along with near-flawless crew work. “Today (Sunday) was tough. Exile was super-fast and made up some points. We had to get a bullet in the last race, and we got it done,” said Leahey, who finished ninth in Race 9. Leahey placed fifth in the J/88s at Charleston Race Week 2019 and called the jump to first “a huge move.” He felt Dutch had outstanding upwind speed and cited excellent communication among the crew as a key factor. “Once we started figuring out the currents better, I felt like we just had another gear upwind,” he said. “This fleet was so darn competitive with tight clusters at all the mark roundings. Almost all the boats were finishing at the same time.” For complete results, visit https://yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=12954.

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