CORA – the Tradition Continues in Charleston By Dan Dickison
f you’ve ever raced sailboats in Charleston, South Carolina, chances are you’re well aware of Charleston Ocean Racing Association. CORA—as everyone refers to the organization—has a long history of promoting and managing much of the racing activity that takes place on Charleston Harbor. And that’s been the case since this organization was established back in 1967. (SOUTHWINDS last featured CORA in its January issue, 2007.) Readers mildly familiar with CORA are apt to identify the organization by way of its long-standing series of Wednesday evening beer-can races, which runs from midMay through early September. But CORA has evolved considerably in recent years and the organization has much more going on than just Wednesday evening racing in the summer. “We just had our annual harbor cruise,” says Jeff Doyle, who took over as commodore of CORA in December. “It was a gorgeous evening on the water. About 90 people attended and everyone enjoyed a great time on board the 80-foot Carolina Belle. One of our members owns that vessel,” Doyle explains, “and he donates the use of it once a year, so we take advantage of his generosity and use the occasion as our monthly meeting for May.” According to Doyle, CORA members still manage as many races each year as they have for the past decade or so—roughly 30 events. Yet the organization’s calendar seems more loaded than ever before. That, he says, is due to the fact that CORA’s leaders have chosen to list events hosted and organized by yacht and sailing clubs around Charleston and the surrounding region. “We’re working closely with other area clubs and we put their events on our calendar so that it’s easier for everyone to coordinate their plans,” Doyle says. An example of this interclub coordination is the Quicksilver Cup, which took place in April. In that contest, CORA members raced offshore down to Hilton Head Island. The event was scheduled so that it served as a feeder race for the Windmill Harbor and DDS&A Cups, which the South Carolina Yacht Club ran the following weekend on Calibogue Sound. Doyle says that SCYC reciprocated by offering CORA members free dockage during the week if they wanted to stay and race in the SCYC events. Only a few weeks later, CORA members worked with the Carolina Yacht Club in Charleston to orchestrate a Speed and Smarts seminar given by renowned racer and sailing coach Dave Dellenbaugh. “That event was great,” Doyle says. “We had a solid turnout, which is nice because it’s part of what CORA is doing to offer more benefits to its skipper members (those who own boats as opposed to the non-owning members of CORA). And Dellenbaugh’s presentation on upwind and downwind tactics was really useful. He’s very good at what
July 2019 S O U T H W I N D S
CORA members trade off doing race committee work to support the organization’s events. Courtesy photo.
he does.” Another thing that CORA’s board is doing to keep their members engaged and enthused pertains to the social scene. “We’re trying to improve our after-race events to make it more fun for everyone,” Doyle says. “We’ve added a music venue for some events, and last year, when we raced down to Bohicket Creek—in the Sheriff’s Cup and the Alice Cup—we changed the races so that we actually raced to the Sea Island Yacht Club instead of the local marina. We held a catered dinner at the club and many of the Sea Island members attended as well. I think we had between 150 and 190 people show up for that. And the members of that club have been very gracious. They even arranged for the neighbors along the creek to let the CORA competitors tie up to their docks. Doing that instead of heading to the nearby marina has turned out to be very popular among CORA members.” Doyle adds that most of the new programs that the
Commodore Jeff Doyle (far left) works hard to keep CORA’s members happy and engaged. Priscilla Parker photo. www.southwindsmagazine.com
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