Sailing 101 at Charleston Race Week

A beginner's guide to Charleston Race Week and the sailing community.

Julia Shoop
June 14, 2018
in Sail

Sailing is easy. Sailing is peaceful. Sailing is slow. These were some of the misconceptions I had going into my first time aboard a racing sail boat at Charleston Race Week… but boy was I wrong.

As the title sponsor for Charleston Race Week, team Sperry headed down to Charleston Harbor for a weekend full of sailing and (naturally) dark ‘n’ stormies. While there, I had the pleasure of spending one afternoon with the College of Charleston sailing team, where they welcomed me aboard the Cougar, a Melges 30 (that’s a type of sailboat, for you other 101-ers out there).

Team members adjust the sail to catch the direction of the wind.

From a jib to a jibe (“Are those dance moves?” I thought to myself), the sport was equally graceful as it was chaotic. In the fluid dance of sailing, you must be willing to take control while simultaneously surrendering to the wind and the water. It’s part science. Part art. Both elements working together as teams race to the finish line.

Todd Fanning, looking out over Charleston Harbor.

I had the pleasure of chatting with skipper, Jordan Wiggins, while at the event. When he isn’t leading his friends to victory, you can find him studying, or playing one of many instruments. His favorite part of the sport? For Jordan, it’s all about the team – what he described as, “Working together to make the boat do impressive things.”

The whole crew was overwhelmingly welcoming, even letting me steer the boat on our way back to the dock. One thing I learned from my first regatta is that the sailing community is one of open arms. Their passion for the sport, and their desire to share the experience, was inspiring.

Trying my best to steer us in the right direction.

But of course, no major sailing event ends without a few high-fives. How do they celebrate a big win? As Jordan describes, “The skipper gets thrown in the water, and there are hugs all around.” In other words, it’s not just about being playful and fun. It’s all about the sailing community.

When I departed from Charleston, I expected a slight sunburn. In reality, I left with new friends and a fresh perspective on the world of competitive sailing. Sign me up!

Julia Shoop

Digital native. Social guru. Shoe hoarder. When she isn't creating content or schmoozing with influencers, you can find her in boat pose (see what I did there...) at the yoga studio. Follow her Sperry adventures on Instagram.

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