Thursday, April 30, 2015

2015 Criterium Cycling Race - Speed Week

13 years in a row - Woo Hoo!!
Race Starts are always an exciting time
The 13th Annual Pro Cycling bike race that is a part of the CRITS Speed Week rolled through downtown Walterboro on April 29. Heavy morning rains dropped 1.5-inches and threatened the event, but the weather let up in the afternoon and despite a one-hour delay to the start time, all of the races were completed before darkness set in. When the streets were closed off to traffic and lined with barricades at 3 p.m. it was still raining, and that may have had an impact on fan turnout. There just wasn't as many onlookers as in past years due to the dreary weather, leaving plenty of elbow room for the diehard bike racing fans. The number of sponsors keeps growing each year and a fine VIP area is run by committee members like Jeffrey Herndon, and they serve a catered supper from Rizer's Pork and Produce complete with strawberries from Breland Farms. These factors help remind attendees of the rural nature of Colleton County and the blessings of natural resources found locally.

Tight Turn - notice the hay bales rigged for impact
This is a competitive event!
The pro bike racers are traveling all week in order to pursue their passion and they began in Georgia over the weekend, before coming to the Lowcountry to race in N. Charleston on Tuesday and Walterboro on Wednesday. The Walterboro Race seems to have remained the most steady venue for CRITS since they often switch up racing locations in other years, with Walterboro always falling mid-week so that the event can grow. This is good clean fun in the outdoors, and yes a little rain can fall, but  it does the community and the racers good to gather in the name of sport during this annual event. To view the race results click here.

To view past blog entries from the Criterium Cycling Speed Week click 2014 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010, - 2009 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pro Rodeo Returns to Double D Arena

The Pledge of Allegiance starts each night at the rodeo

A traveling rodeo of professional cowboys is coming back to Walterboro on May 1 and 2, bringing family fun and western wear back under the spotlights at the Double D Arena. Cowboys and cowgirls will find their way to Rodeo Road in Walterboro for the two nights of horses, bulls, calfs and the daring contestants that hope to tame them. This is the 26th year that Tommie Derry and family have hosted the pro rodeo, where everyone can watch the drama unfold as cowboys try to qualify for the Rodeo National Finals.
Don't have a cowboy hat??
Then get one at the Rodeo!!
Gates open at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and adult ticket prices are $20 at the gate. Two kids under the age of ten years old are admitted free with one paid adult. Rodeo fans will want to get there early to enjoy all of the atmosphere that goes along with events at the Double D Arena. Country music will be playing, children will be playing on the jump castles and everyone will be eating the special offerings from the food trucks. You will find me in line for the hot and fresh mini doughnuts, followed up by a foot long corn dog! Western wear sales will include cowboy hats, boots, leather belts, bolo ties, chaps, bandanas and so much more. 

But no night at the rodeo gets underway without a salute to the troops of the United States of America and recognition of the blessing of being free. Everyone is told to rise and a cadre of horseback riders come into the arena bearing flags and ride in formation all around the ring before coming to a stop in front of the American flag. The National Anthem helps remind everyone that the rodeo is just as American as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie.

To read this entire article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries about wild horses click here.

To view past blog entries about trail riding click on Georgia -  North Carolina

To view past blog entries for Polo for the Point click on 20142013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2009.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pioneer Boats Expands Workforce to Produce New Line

Henry Sikes in the 197 Islander at the Pioneer warehouse
Henry Sikes is the Vice President for Sales and Marketing at Pioneer Boats and asked me to tour the warehouse with him. Sikes started out as an independent dealer for Pioneer in his home state of North Carolina. After the economic recession that hit boat builders so hard began to fade, Sikes moved to South Carolina in order to be present everyday to oversee the operations at the 122,000-square foot warehouse space in Walterboro, located right beside Interstate 95.
Each boat is built in Walterboro, near to I-95
“We usually rig the 197 Islander with a 150-horsepower 4-stroke motor, and we have multiple motor manufacturer options,” said Sikes. “Our boat model year runs from July 1 through June 30 and for the year 2014 we probably doubled our previous best mark. We build these boats as soon as an order comes through and we have had to expand from 26 employees in January 2014, up to 66 employees in 2015 just to keep up with demand.” Although some of them are working on a new project.
197 Islander cruising along the Lowcountry
Carolina Composites launched a new line of boats called Bulls Bay in 2013 and now in 2015 they are launching the Avenger line of boats. The Avenger boat hull has its origins in South Louisiana, a place where they as many various boat types as they have wading birds. Sikes says they acquired the Avenger brand so that they can build and launch a 26-foot bay boat, with plans to roll out two smaller models after that.

 If I had to guess, I’d say the folks at Pioneer Boats are having fun right now with the growth afforded their small company by customer demand. All of which sounds like a recipe for success when it comes to giving boat buyers a bevy of boating options.

To read this entire magazine feature article click on All At Sea.

To view past blog entries about boat builders click on Hinckley Company - Scout Boats

To view past blog entries about classic wooden boats click on Osprey - Annalee - Aphrodite - Grace

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2015 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town - Furyk Wins in Playoff

No. 1 Tee and NEW Clubhouse at Harbour Town
2015 Masters Champ Jordan Spieth

The RBC Heritage presented by Boeing had another memorable finish on Sunday. The 2014 tourney ended with a chip in birdie to win on the 18th hole, and the 2015 event needed two playoff holes to determine a winner. PGA Tour veteran Jim Furyk is 44 years old and he ended his streak of 100 starts without a win by defeating Kevin Kisner to claim his second Heritage win.
Furyk has won multiple events during his career including the 2003 U.S. Open and the 2010 Heritage title. When he teed off on the back nine on Thursday morning he faced the same stiff odds as the entire field, namely to beat Jordan Spieth who was the freshly minted Masters champion. Spieth became the second youngest player to win at Augusta National after Tiger Woods, and he came to Hilton Head to continue his stellar play. Not to mention that Matt Kuchar was fired up to defend his 2014 Heritage title.
The weather forecast looked ominous for the entire four days of the tourney, but in the end it wasn’t until Sunday when the rain had any affect. The PGA Tour made the decision to start play on Sunday early in the morning, so that they could finish before a weather system would be passing by. Ends up that was a great decision since heavy lightening and pouring rain arrived in the Lowcountry early that afternoon. A taped broadcast of the Sunday golf was aired on CBS, but by then the tartan jacket was already awarded to Furyk

To read my feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries for the RBC Heritage click on 2014 - 2013

To view past blog entries from The Masters click on 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2009
Harbour Town Yacht Basin / Toys

Tom Watson on the 18th Hole

Sportfisher and Brandt Snedeker

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 4/21/2015

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
Sadie Beth sportfishing releases a blue marlin on April 18, 2015
Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West asks if you have seen a GATOR trout yet?! Spring is in full gear and that means large trout in our inshore waters. Trout in the 18 to 22-inch range have been common and catch numbers averaging 10 to 20-fish per trip are the norm. Always keep in mind that the larger trout are the spawning population, and they need to be returned to the water! Live shrimp fished under a popping cork is always a good idea, or for artificials try a Vudu shrimp or a DOA shrimp around shell rakes in 3 to 6-feet of water. The sheepshead are still biting live fiddlers at rock piles and bridge pilings, and redfish have broken out of their cold water schooling pattern. The redfish can be found on structure like docks, so pitch a live minnow or cut bait to entice a strike. For the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Offshore Report: With the first few blue marlin of the season being caught and released there can be no question that the offshore fishing season has fully arrived! Congrats to the Sadie Beth for their blue marlin release on Saturday April 18, and thanks to Capt. Emerson Read too. Scott reports great blackfin tuna catches coming in from the Georgetown Hole and the southwest banks. Boats are leaving the marina extra early to be at the fishing grounds right at dawn to take advantage of a blackfin bite that might not last too long into the morning. Remember to fish the baits way back or under a kite to tame some tuna. Solid reports of wahoo are coming from the ledge down south near the Edisto banks and the Deli area. The majority of dolphin reports are coming off of temperature breaks in 400 to 1200-feet of water, so they are still real deep. To review the dates for the 2015 Governor's Cup Billfish Series click here.

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

2015 Charleston Race Week - Sunday Sailing / Results

Sunday races as viewed from Demetre Park on J.I.
Day Three of the 20th Anniversary of Charleston Race Week saw overcast skies persist over Charleston Harbor. Due to almost losing the entire day on Saturday, the Sunday start time was moved up an hour to 10 a.m. and while the breeze was plenty fresh, the entire weekend lacked any really stiff winds. Of course, that's just a part of racing and that's why every year unfolds differently for those who watch the CRW format over time. Sailing tactics are generally rewarded in the end and the most skilled and gifted sailors are likely to leave home Sunday afternoon with the awards in tow. For more in depth coverage of the 2015 CRW click on results or video.

CRW Press release: The action out on the six race courses that made up this event proved a true challenge for Charleston area sailors as the majority of the nearly 300 entries were from out of town and out of state. And some of the best finishes were posted by teams from out of the country. 

In the 83-boat J/70 class (22-foot boats) Julian Fernandez Neckleman’s crew on board his Flojito y Cooperando from Mexico City dominated the competition with superb driving and excellent tactical calls by Americans Bill Hardesty and Willem Van Waay. Second place in that mega class went to the Oslo, Norway-based team on Norwegian Steam led by Eivind Astrup. The top American boat, which finished third, was Jud Smith and his crew on board Africa out of Marblehead, Mass. 

In the 22-boat Melges 22 Class, which was contesting its 2015 National Championships event here, Alexi Michas and his Midnight Blue crew from Long Island City, NY proved victorious. They not only won this class and their boat’s national championship by seven points over their nearest competitor, they also walked away with the Charleston Race Week Trophy, which is the overall award for the top performing boat in the most competitive one-design class at the regatta.

The Palmetto Cup, which is awarded to the top performing boat among all of the handicap rated entries, which sailed on the offshore courses, was Robin Team’s Teamwork, a J/122 out of North Carolina. 

To view past blog entires from 2015 Charleston Race Week click on Shore SceneSaturday - Friday

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 

Happy sailor from Sunday awards at Chas. Harbor Marina

Vineyard Vines staffers look SHARP at CRW

Palmetto Cup and Gosling's Old Rum!

The fellow on the left just realized that Race Week
doesn't last forever

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015 Charleston Race Week - Shoreside Social Photos

Youthful spirit on display at CRW
Team Sperry is the CRW Title Sponsor
The format for Charleston Race Week includes four days of fellowship and three days of racing. After heavy mist and damp conditions on Thursday night, the weather has been constantly improving for the Friday night and Saturday night shoreside beach parties. This is when sailors can relax after a day of racing, and some folks report coming back a little 'beat up' by a day spent on the water. Good food, and  spirits from Gosling's Rum of Bermuda are always the right equation for recharging. Add live music, sailing videos and sponsors like Sperry and Vineyard Vines on hand, and their is a positive energy to this gathering where sand is beneath your feet and pelicans and seagulls cross overhead.

I have been fortunate to meet many friendly folks over the pat seven year of blog coverage for CRW, and was especially pleased to meet the crew of Dog Party, after photographine their 29-foot J-boat on the offshore course on Friday. This 7-man crew has been sailing together for 20 years, and their hometown is in Canada, above Nova Scotia. They hail from Charlottetown, PEI, Canada - which is home to the Prince Edward Island (PEI) mussels that seafood lovers are so fond of. This team includes the three McKenna brothers who love every inch of their 8.8-meter sailing vessel. after coming up empty in the awards department at their first CRW in 2014, they returned this year to compete again!

The Vineyard Vines Whale Tale Band
The story of sailors returning to Charleston again and again for CRW is one of the reasons that make this 20th anniversary year the largest edition so far. The field is getting bigger, and the event's reputation is growing as well, drawing competitors from as far away as Europe. The famous Southern hospitality of the Holy City is always on display at the shoreside beach parties and that is just one part of the reason that sailors return with families and friends to enjoy Charleston Race Week.

To view past blog entires from 2015 Charleston Race Week click on Saturday - Friday

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 20182017 - 2016 - 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 

Team Dog Party owners and family
Friday Night at Race Week

Saturday night beach party

CRW is a family affair

Team Shaka is all about a Saturday night salute

Touch To Play keeps it Dark 'N' Stormy

Saturday, April 18, 2015

2015 Charleston Race Week - Saturday Slowdown

Offshore Racing on Friday
Original Saturday Race Week Schedule
A stalled weather front has parked a low pressure system off the north coast of South Carolina, leaving Charleston in the doldrums - with little or no wind. Due to these extreme conditions the inshore races for Saturday morning have been postponed for two hours by Race Director Randy Draftz. Everyone is hoping that enough will build in for the afternoon session of races. After covering Charleston Race Week for multiple years, it is rare that racing gets canceled because of too much wind, but too little wind is another matter. Slick calm water and dense fog draped across the City of Charleston are sure signs of windless conditions. Saturday racing should begin by 1 p.m. if the heating of the day allows for a breeze to fill in.

For a full weather forecast of sailing conditions click on Sail Flow.

As the afternoon went on the skies cleared and the wind did pick up allowing for a very late 3 p.m. start for some afternoon racing (click for video). It was a long day of waiting for most sailors and Sunday's forecast looks much more promising, with the CRW Awards scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday Afternoon.

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009
Day One Awards photo from Friday Night

Flat calm conditions on Saturday morning 
 from the ocean course, photo by Capt. Mike Waller

Friday, April 17, 2015

2015 Charleston Race Week - Sailing Begins

Conditions included gloomy weather on the offshore
course Friday but the sail colors displayed nicely
20 Years - Hard to Believe!!
Charleston Race Week is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2015, and none of the earliest competitors could have imagined it growing into one of the world's most celebrated and influential regattas. Title sponosr Sperry is proud to lead the largest keelboat regatta ever in 2015 with 286 sailboats registered, with a swarm of 2500 sailors at the helm. Practice racing gets underway on Thursday, but the main event gets started on Friday morning with three inshore courses and two offshore courses.

Event Director Randy Draftz is very hands on with Charleston Race Week from the Skipper's Meeting on Thursday night all the way through to the Sunday awards. Each night of the CRW is a one of a kind beach party on the grounds of the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina with live music, a food buffet and of course the Dark 'N' Stormy refreshments. Special racing presentations by veteran tacticians accent each night. That's right, when this crowd isn't on the water sailing, they are watching the big screen on the beach about how to race faster!!
Tightly packed group rounding the orange marker

Still Messin' starts a downwind run
Renowned America's Cup veteran racer and TP 52 ace Ed Baird will be on hand as a guest expert to offer post race analysis each day on the Jumbotron at the Regatta Village on the beach. Work by aerial videographer Keith Brash will be playing each evening as well. Commentator Tucker Thompson will be joined on stage by Andrew Campbell of Oracle Team USA to offer a presentation on the 35th America's Cup. "We're really honored to have such talented presenters at 2015 Race Week," said Draftz.

CRW is entering its third year in the Clean Regattas Program, and is 'Going Blue.' Some of the commitments for this year include using electric golf carts to transport competitors from the outlying parking lots to the Regatta Village. Limiting the dependance on plastic water bottles is stressed with lots of drinking water cooler stations where participants are free to fill up a renewable container, like a camelback bottle. Even the use of biodegradable drinking cups is in use, and these measures are likely to increase over time.

For Day One results click here.

To view past blog entries from Charleston Race Week click on 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

2015 Log A Load Shoot at Broxton Bridge Plantation

Lin Houck (center) leads his volunteer team
Neat Logo

The forestry community steps up each year when loggers take an afternoon off to shoot sporting clays and raise funding and awareness for the Children’s Hospital in Savannah. Having a fun event helps to remind loggers that the Lowcountry Log A Load campaign began here in 1988, and that it is now an annual calling. Shotgun blasts replace the sounds of a logging deck for those who gather at Broxton Bridge each spring.
On Wednesday April 8, over 100 supporters gathered to shoot ‘Klays For Kids’ under the direction of organizer Lin Houck. He is quick to relay that he relies on committee members Rhett Sanders, Brian Crosby, Kevin Johnstone and Jonathan Braswell when he needs some extra manpower. Houck works for Collum’s Lumber, Braswell works for Georgia Pacific, and their friend Deidre Holt who works for International Paper was attending just to provide some moral support.
Springing Teal shooting team
The South Carolina Forestry Association (SCFA) is an umbrella organization that looks out for loggers, mills and even private landowners. Guy Sabin from the SCFA came from Columbia to support the Log A Load event. “Everyone in the forestry industry appreciates these loggers for donating their time to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital at Memorial University in Savannah,” said Sabin. “Loggers come from Georgia and S.C. for this event, and we all know that kids from South Carolina go to the hospital in Savannah.”

To read this entire article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

Socializing before the shoot

To view past blog entries from Log A Load click 2014

Sunday, April 12, 2015

2015 Family Circle Cup - Finals / Angelique Kerber Wins

Martina Hingis (foreground) and doubles
partner Sania Mirza of India
The Final matches on Sunday at the Family Circle Cup got underway at 10:30 with a doubles match. After 14 years away from the FCC, the Swiss Miss, Martina Hingis returned to play doubles. She is clicking with her new playing partner Sania Mirza and they won the FCC doubles title over Casey Dellacqua and Darija Jurak. This is their third WTA doubles title in a row - so they are on a roll, and it looks like they might be able to keep it going!

The singles final got underway at 1 p.m. under mostly cloudy skies and a brisk wind that had fans looking for a light jacket for the first time all week. American Madison Keys played well, but ended up losing two sets to one, despite heavy crowd support. German Angelique Kerber is the 2015 FCC Champion and she was the No. 5-seed and defeated defending champ Petkovic in the semifinals.

2015 FCC Champ Angelique Kerber
Once again the Family Circle Cup tournament brought class and culture to Daniel Island and is another attribute to life in the Charleston area. Tourney chair Bob Moran guides the ship each year for the Meredith Corporation and their portfolio of magazine publications, including longtime favorite Family Circle. The FCC facility will host some concerts during the summer months and will be ready in spring of 2016 for the next chapter in ladies pro tennis in the Lowcountry.

To read my feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries from the 2015 FCC click Saturday - Tuesday - Monday.

To view past blog entries from the Family Circle Cup click 2014- 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009.

Madison Keys from Monday's media session

Doubles champs Mirza and Hingis

Saturday, April 11, 2015

2015 Family Circle Cup - Semifinal Saturday

Petkovic played furiously but came up short
Madison Keys plays nimble and wins points
Defending 2014 FCC Champ Andrea Petkovic remained undefeated during her third year appearing at the superb tennis facility on Daniel Island. She has played big from the baseline with strong groundstrokes all week long and the semifinal match against fellow German contrywoman Angelique Kerber was no different. Almost from the start the long rallies and the loud emphasis behind each and every shot were a big part of their match. In the end it was the seventh-seeded Kerber that bested the No. 1-seed Petko in straight sets 6 - 4, 6 - 4. She will play in the FCC Finals against fifth-seeded American Madison Keys.

In the first semifinal match at 1 p.m. on Saturday it was Madison Keys breezing through the first set against unlikely qualifier Lucie Hradeka of the Czeck Republic. Keys has made it look easy during the entire week at the FCC and she hardly broke a sweat today. The match was delayed from 10 until 1 due to light rain, and that proved to be the only thing that could delay her clenching of a spot in the Finals. It took Keys just a few minutes over one hour to dismiss Hradecka in straight sets, before acknowledging the crowd that is now looking at her as the favorite to win the 2015 Family Circle Cup on Sunday.

To view past blog entries from the 2015 Family Circle Cup click Tuesday - Monday.

To view past blog entries from the Family Circle Cup click 2014- 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009.

Hradecka scrambles for a low ball
Kerber of Germany makes it to the Finals