Consistent breeze that ranged from light to medium to heavy? Check. Close competition and exciting racing across the broad spectrum of classes? Check. High-quality race committee work? Check. Factor in three days of beautiful, warm, sunny weather and the 2022 Charleston Race Week demonstrated why sailors come back year after year. Dutch held the lead at the end of all three days of racing to win the J/88 fleet, then dedicated the victory to boat owner John Leahey, who had to pull out of the regatta at the last minute. Minus its skipper and helmsman, the Chicago Yacht Club entry had to shuffle the crew. Will Holz took over as driver, while Matt Clark and Charlie Gallagher combined to call tactics. It’s a crew that has been together a long time and did not miss a beat without its leader. “This victory is definitely for John and his father,” Holz said. “John has been cheering and coaching from afar, calling every day to give pointers and advice.” Dutch actually dropped to third – one point behind Exile and Deviation – after finishing seventh in the first race Sunday. “We suddenly found ourselves behind for the first time but knew if we won the last race we would get the tiebreaker,” Holz said. “The team’s performance was phenomenal throughout the regatta, and everyone really came through in that last race.” Holz felt the key to victory was coming off the start line clean in 8 of 10 races, which enabled Dutch to find clear lanes and clear air. “We were very confident in our boat speed, especially upwind,” he said.

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