The final horn goes off, and hundreds of flying objects seem to lift off the water in a sprint for Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. No, it’s not science fiction; it’s Tim Fitzgerald’s vision come to life. Four years ago, Tim moved to Charleston, SC from Kansas, left his snow shovel behind in search of a stronger connection to the sport of sailing. Fitzgerald has an impressive resume under his belt, he has made a name for himself sailing keelboats, as well as in the Thistle, Lightning, Laser and Sunfish classes, to name a few. Tim stood on the end of a dock looking out towards the Cooper River bridge and made a bet with a few friends that he couldn't make it to the bridge in 15 minutes. With this handshake, the concept for the Fort to Battery are was born.
As the current owner of a Hobie 20, and an avid kiteboarder and foilboarder, Tim believed that an adrenaline-fueled drag race in catamarans and other “flying” water-craft could bring the crowd. The Fort to Battery married the excitement of competitive sailing to the large tourism trade in Charleston. Each year competitors from all over the country pack their cars full of kites, boards, and gear and load their boats on trailers and set out for Charleston, with one mission in mind: to go fast.
While four miles in only five minutes, 52 seconds may seem like something only achievable by airplane... Foilboarder Zack Marks proved otherwise in 2016, setting the course record. Boats with top speeds under 20 mph need not apply, the race is a sight to behold, competitors, ages ranging from youth to 70+, scream downwind, dodging in and out of catamarans and avoiding each other, hundreds of spectators line the battery and parks shoreline of James Island, while helicopters hover overhead in attempt to capture the whole thing. It’s unlike anything the sailing world has seen, chaos and action. 2009 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, Bora Gulari, took the gold at the first race, saying ”I love events like this that are a bit different from our regular racing and have an element of chance and huge amount of fun to them.”
Fitzgerald hopes that the Fort to Battery will inspire more people, especially kids, to pick up the sport of sailing, and realize that the potential for racing goes far beyond a few laps around the race course. Fort to Battery 2017 will take place on April 29th, at approximately two p.m.. The race can be watched from Sunrise Park on James Island and seen from The Battery in downtownCharleston. The race will be live streamed at sailinganarchy.com.