Elite Sailors Up the Ante at Charleston Race Week 2024

Charleston, SC, USA - 19 April 2024 - Charlie Ogletree, collegiate All-American, four-time Olympian, and Olympic silver medalist in the Tornado class (2004 Athens, with partner John Lovell), is a first timer at Charleston Race Week, lending his skills aboard the Melges 24 Lucky Dog, owned, and skippered by three-time CRW winner Travis Weisleder. Ogletree joins many other top-level sailors also competing at CRW this year enjoying the camaraderie on water and festivities on shore.

Over the past year Ogletree has been competing on his long-time record-setting ride, the Mod 70 Argo, recently winning Multihull Line Honors in the RORC Caribbean 600. He's also been coaching with American Magic and its Youth and Women's America's Cup teams, and a lot of coaching with Lucky Dog on the M32 (formerly known as the Marstsrom 32).

"Travis and his crew have sailed three events in the M32 and in the last event they got third and won the first race, so they went from last in the first event to third in the third event, so that was a pretty steep curve. The goal is the World Championship in Lake Garda this summer on the M32."

Switching from racing on an aggressive program like Argo to coaching is a big change but equally as satisfying, Ogletree, who resides in Baja, Mexico, notes.

"It's a different mindset and it's actually a lot harder, although a different kind of hard. "When the day is done you still have to go back and prepare all the video debrief etc., it's long hours but it's enjoyable, especially when you see results from the hard work."

He's not sailed on a Melges 24 for a long time, "It's probably been 10 years," he laughed. "I sailed on them for a long time back then but it's kind of like riding a bike and the practice day was fun. I like small boat sailing; I just haven't done it in a long time as I've been on big boats for the past six years. There is a really good fleet at CRW because the Worlds are in San Francisco in August so teams here are starting their Worlds preparation."

While CRW has just never been on the schedule for the types of boats he has been racing on, Ogletree is very familiar with the event and excited to race this week. "I've heard all about it and it seems amazing, Charleston is a great town to be racing this event." Travis Weisleder, a long-time CRW competitor, noted that the Lucky Dog program has been around since his kids came up with the name in 2005.

"We've had a number of boats, but the Melges 24 has been our longest program and we've won the last three or four events here and we're always happy to come back to Charleston and sail here; I went to college here, so this is always a fun place to come back and hang out. My expectations are just to have fun. Last year we had a big family thing which kind of reset our priorities in life and to remember to take every moment in life you can to have fun with things."

Weisleder added, "One of the things we really wanted to have with the M32 program is learning to sail on a multihull and Charlie is our coach for that. I thought it would be a good idea to have him sail with us for an event so he could understand how my brain works in sailing and be able to take that from a coaching side and say, "You're an idiot, do it this way like we talked about!"

Also sailing on Lucky Dog this week is John Bowden (Charleston, SC) who has won National Championships in the Melges 20, Melges 32, Lightning, Melges 24, Coronado 15, and J-80 classes, with a world series win in the Melges 20 under his belt.

KINGSPOKE USA 820 of Bora Gulari with Norman Berge / Nick Ford / Carlos Robles - Charleston Race Week 2024
KINGSPOKE USA 820 of Bora Gulari with Norman Berge / Nick Ford / Carlos Robles - Charleston Race Week 2024

When it comes to fast, Bora Gulari has it going. He competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio in the mixed Nacra 17, is two-time champion of the Moth World Championship, and was US Sailor of the Year in 2009. While he's been busy at home over the past few years as dad to a two-year-old and a one-year-old, as well as acting as GC on a new house he is building for his family, Gulari is psyched to be in one of his favorite places to race. He's been racing the Melges 24 for some twenty years and has competed at Charleston Race Week for almost as many.

"This is one of my favorite things to do, I've kind of lost count of how many years I have come to Charleston to sail around this town between the scows and the 24s, I think maybe 15 years," Gulari said. "It's a wonderful place to sail, the sea breeze is awesome and it's just a great place to be."

He added, "On Kingspoke, our expectations this week are to work on our race craft and get better. We're trying to keep our eyes on the prize which is the Worlds at the end of the summer. The racing here can be tactically quite challenging so we're just trying to put ourselves into position so we can work through it."

Gulari's strengths on the boat?

"I like it when it's windy, and over the decades now we've got a lot of experience sailing the boat in the breeze so that's one of my favorite things to do. It's a sport boat so I don't sweat as much when I'm stressing – smiles – because there is breeze coming over the deck."

Melges 24 Lucky Dog USA858 of Travis Weisleder, with John Bowden / Charlie Ogletree / Chandler Self / Caroline Main - Charleston Race Week 2024

KINGSPOKE USA 820 of Bora Gulari with Norman Berge / Nick Ford / Carlos Robles - Charleston Race Week 2024