One of the hallmarks of Sperry Charleston Race Week is the caliber of the event’s race management. The Principal Race Officers and their teams who run each of the event’s six race courses are among the most experienced in the sport. But it’s not just their experience that distinguishes this regatta, it’s the fact that maintaining a competitor-centric outlook is their No. 1 priority.
John Abel is an International Race Officer and a Canadian National Race Officer.In almost three decades of service to the sport he has officiated all across Canada, the US and Australia at National, Continental and World Championship events. He is a Canadian Advanced Race Management seminar instructor and is a member of the Canadian Race Management sub-committee. He is also the Championship Coordinator for the International Melges 24 Class.
"It is a real pleasure for me to be appointed as PRO for the 2019 Sperry Charleston Race Week. Having helped out in various roles in the past couple of years, I know what a great race management team we have. Race Week is an exceptionally well run event that embodies the three key elements of Safety, Fairness, and above all else FUN!"
Here’s a brief profile of each of the event’s Principal Race Officers, circle-by-circle:
Tommy Harken, the PRO on Circle 1, grew up sailing in Charleston and has raced all around the Southeast. In high school, he competed in Y-Flyers and followed that with four years on The Citadel’s varsity sailing team. After that, he competed successfully aboard a series of J/35s and a Mumm 30 for almost two decades. Later, he became a force in the MC Scow, helping to establish a local fleet that thrived for the better part of 10 years.
If you race in the Midwest, there’s a good chance that you already know John Strassman, the PRO on Circle 2 (J/70 Class). Based in Milwaukee, Strassman grew up there spending his formative years as a racing sailor. He’s the past chair of US Sailing’s Race Management Committee, a US Sailing National Race Officer, World Sailing International Race Officer and an active racing sailor who crams in as much competition as he can, usually as navigator or tactician aboard a couple of nice big boat programs on Lake Michigan.
Hal Smith is a name you’ve probably heard at various events around the sport. He’s been coming to Charleston to sail since 1974 and has volunteered at Sperry Charleston Race Week for at least 13 years. This year, Smith will once again serve as the PRO on Circle 3. It’s just one of many regattas that he’s managed all around the Southeast.
Taran Teague, the PRO on Circle 5 (our only offshore race course), is a big fan of Race Week. She competed here for several years and then five years ago decided to help out with the race committee work. This year will be her second stint as the PRO on the regatta’s offshore racecourse.
Meet Ray Redniss. If you’ve raced in Western Long Island Sound or at Block Island Race Week in the past 25 years or so, you’ve heard Ray Redniss on the VHF.
A Stamford YC member for 31 years, he’s served as Race Committee Chairman, Fleet Captain, and on the Board of Directors, Executive Committee and Nominating Committee. He continues to serve as PRO for the Vineyard and Stamford Denmark Friendship Races.