Line honours for Rosebud/Team DYT

Fort Lauderdale to Charleston Race is reborn

Tuesday April 14th 2009, Author: Dana Paxton, Location: United Kingdom
In a fitting re-birth of the venerable Fort Lauderdale to Charleston Race, Roger Sturgeon’s STP65 Rosebud/Team DYT crossed the finish line just before 10 p.m. on April 10, to break the 35-year-old race record set in 1974 by Ralph Ryder's C&C 66 Phantom and set a new standard for the modern running of this event.

Eleven boats started the 408-nautical mile offshore race at 2:00pm on April 8, just outside of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale and finished outside of Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Although Rosebud/Team DYT clocked in at 1 day 7 hours 52 minutes 49 seconds, on corrected time under IRC rules she finished second overall by less than nine seconds to Teamwork, the J/122 owned by Robin Team from Lexington, N.C.

“We left a lot of room for other boats to break the (new) record,” said Roger Sturgeon of his boat’s 90-minute improvement on the 1974 record. “This should be great encouragement for others to do this race and go for the record. The Gulf Stream is so important; when there was zero wind we were still going three knots with the current. Learning Gulf Stream tactics is ongoing, but it plays a huge role. For example, do you go into Charleston early? You do all your routing ahead of time, but you pick timing for wind changes and if early or late, then you need to make small adjustments.”

Winner of the PHRF division title was John Evans’ (Fort Lauderdale) Little Harbor 54 Jasmine, whose crew included navigator Chris Woolsey, son of Dr. Dean Woolsey, winner of the inaugural 1968 race on his Columbia 40 Circe. Jim Edwards (Satellite Beach, Fla.), who raced on the Beneteau First 40.7 Santarella in the PHRF fleet, also sailed with Dr Woolsey in 1968.

“It was a great race,” said Robin Team, who keeps his boat in Beaufort, N.C. “Everybody on our crew is thankful the Storm Trysail Club, the Lauderdale Yacht Club and the Carolina Yacht Club teamed up to resurrect a great race. We signed up to do it last year – and it was in conflict with Charleston Race Week – so moving it up and letting everyone do the southern Florida racing and then use this as a delivery for Charleston, made a lot more sense. We hope the race continues.” Teamwork crew included Adam Team, John Sullivan, Nicole Weaver, Tony Rankin, Jane Cox, Mark Jeffries and Kevin Ryman.

“The key to this race for Teamwork has to be the leadership of Kevin Ryman,” continued Team. “We’ve raced together for five years and in addition to being a great friend, he’s a great tactician. He did a masterful job of calling tactics. We exited the Gulf Stream at the just the right time.” Team added that the Gulf Stream played an important role in the race. “Absolutely, going north, you have to pick a time to come out (of the Gulf Stream) and the more you wait the more easterly it meanders. If you wait too long you find yourself in a counter current. Kevin called the right tactics for it and he picked our sail selection.”

Roger Sturgeon echoed Team’s sentiments of waiting until this year to run the race. “What’s even better is that Vanquish showed up,” said Sturgeon of the STP65 now owned and raced by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (King Point, N.Y.). “We leap-frogged past each other in the beginning of the race. There was light air and both boats pushed each other. It was a lot more fun with the competition. They’re a new player without that much time on the water as a team, although it’s good for their program to race against a similar boat. Don’t get me wrong, they showed us a few tricks! Their tactics, at times, were better than ours at times. The boats have some differences, but once we got ahead it was easier to stay ahead.”

Of the 408 miles raced, Sturgeon picked out his most memorable moment. “The waves on the final day,” he said. “Because the previous day’s wind and other factors, the Gulf Stream, etc. were always from the wrong direction. It was only when we got north of Savannah that the wind and weather picked up and made for a beautiful sunset. It was one of those more memorable moments! Half an hour later the sun went down and the moon went up with a beautiful orange color in the east. Then the spinnaker blew out for no good reason while we were all admiring the moon! That cost us a few minutes. Luckily the wind picked up a lot and we could do 12-14/15 and made it comfortable to finish the course.” Crew for Rosebud/Team DYT included Justin Clougher, Jack Halterman, John Hayes, Mikey Howard, Mikey Joubert, Keats Keeley, Kevin Miller, Malcolm Park, Jimmy Slaughter, Matt Smith, Phil Trinter, David Tank, Matt Wachowicz and Isobel Sturgeon.

“For medium-sized boats wanting to go to Charleston Race Week, it’s a good feeder into that,” continued Sturgeon, who counts among his victories the 2009 editions of Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race and the Montego Bay Race and the 2007 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. “The race offers a lot of challenges, yet for offshore racing it’s relatively safe. You have harbors to your left. As an early offshore experience it’s one that can lead to longer offshore distances.”

First-time participant John Evans credited his team for making the race so enjoyable on his Jasmine. “It was fantastic and exhilarating,” said Evans. “We prepared quite well ahead of time, and we experienced everything from the doldrums and zero knots up to 25 knots plus winds. At one point we hit 14.5 on the knot meter, which is as fast as you can go in a Little Harbor 54!”

For Jasmine’s navigator Chris Woolsey, winning the PHRF division was extra special as his father Dean Woolsey won the inaugural race in 1968. “He did a fantastic job,” said Evans. “There were some tough calls to make such as when to exit the Gulf Stream, where to be so we can pick the right sails and what to expect. He did a great job. I learned a lot from him and from the crew. I want to emphasize the crew that we had, the team work and the way they pulled together and communicated through sail changes and jibes was terrific. I thank them.”

Although the race was followed closely online through commentary, posted at regular intervals, each of the competing boats was equipped with IonEarth GPS tracking units. Positions were reported every 15 minutes with equipment that recently was used to track the Alaskan Iditarod Race. Boat tracking and regular website reports are just two of the recent developments that appealed to participants and fans. “We had so much positive input from competitors,” said Buck Gillette, race chairman. “Everyone enjoyed the course and the pre- and post-racing social activities. I am pleased to announce that the 2010 Fort Lauderdale to Charleston Race will definitely take place. We hope all of the 2009 entries return and the word spreads about what a great race this is.”

The 2009 Fort Lauderdale to Charleston Race is organized by SORC and sponsored by the Storm Trysail Club, starting host Lauderdale Yacht Club and finishing host Carolina Yacht Club. It is an official leg of the 2009 US-IRC Gulf Stream Series where IRC boats earn points for placement in an overall chase to be the series champion.

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