The College of Charleston’s Varsity Sailing Team is ranked No. 2 in the country. That’s not a surprise for a program that is regularly in the top five and boasts some 20 national championships. But some might be surprised to learn that this sailing program has an impact that resonates well beyond the adrenaline-heavy realm of collegiate sailing competition.
For example, the largest sailboat regatta in both South and North America – Sperry Charleston Race Week – takes place in Charleston this week (April 16-19), and the College’s sailing program is heavily involved in much of the activity. More than 30 students from the team will compete on board boats in seven different classes. Coaches from the team will also race. And one of them, Mitch Hall, will be presenting a local knowledge debrief to all 2,500 competitors on the eve of the regatta.
“Our sailing program is privileged to have some super-talented, passionate people who help us extend the impact we have on the Charleston community,” explained sailing director Greg Fisher. “One way we do that is by supporting Sperry Charleston Race Week. We’ll be berthing about 30 of the visiting boats in the basin at our sailing center. And our fleet of J/22s will be out there competing in the regatta. One of our boats, our new adaptive boat, will be raced by the Warrior Sailing Team of disabled veterans. We’re also hosting a youth forum at our sailing center during the regatta, and that will feature a panel with this year’s Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, Stephanie Roble, plus a number of our team members. So, we’re truly enthused to be so involved in this prestigious event.”
Fisher, a multi-time world, North American and national champion in several different sailboat classes, is keen to emphasize that his program’s No. 1 priority is varsity sailing. “That’s our focus, and we’re very fortunate to attract many of the top racers in the country to enroll at the College and compete for our team. The talent level of these kids is truly impressive, and the team seems to grow stronger and stronger each year. For that, the credit here really goes to our coaching staff, led by Ward Cromwell with assistant coaches Mitch Hall, Ned Goss and Education Director Jacob Raymond. They’re truly the best in the country, and I learn from them every time we go out and watch the team practice!”
Under Fisher’s guidance, the sailing program has developed a menu of options for sailors and would-be sailors of all ages, including a Varsity Offshore Sailing Team, youth racing clinics, recreational racing, various levels of instruction, a new adaptive program, and a new Development Team for college students who want to up their game, but aren’t quite proficient enough to make the varsity team.
“Ultimately, it’s our goal to help advance the sport within the Charleston community, and we’re so fortunate that there’s not only strong support for that, but great enthusiasm as well.”