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Local skipper sets sail in Charleston 2 Bermuda Yacht Race

  • Thursday, May 23, 2013

Live race progress of the Charleston 2 Bermuda Yacht Race can be tracked online at yb.tl/c2b2013. Jamie Walker, of Charleston, owns Azura, which is one of two participants in Friday’s event. It is about an 800-mile journey. COURTESY OF PRISCILLA PARKER

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You've heard of the saying coined by a popular movie: “If you ain't first, you're last.” Well, literally, that's true with the Charleston 2 Bermuda Yacht Race this year.

The race, held every two years, experienced lighter participation than in previous events, so there were only two boats sailing from the Lowcountry to Bermuda in this past Friday's race. Jamie Walker, of Charleston, captains one of those ships called “Azura.”

At press time, the race was not completed with the 777-mile journey expected to take four to five days.

The 777 miles would be if ships took a straight course to Bermuda, so with sailing dealing with shifting winds, tides, currents and a multitude of other variables, the trip could exceed 800 miles.

“Ever since I was a teenager, I have always wanted to sail to Bermuda,” Walker said.

“So, I'm getting it done now. I have a great group of guys.”

There were a total of eight crew on Azura, including Walker who began as skipper when the boats started Friday afternoon in the Charleston Harbor after docking at City Marina.

The trip is almost the land equivalent of traveling from Charleston to New York City.

Walker said the boat, which looks as if it just came from a showroom, was built in 2001. It was kept in Germany with little use until Walker purchased it last December.

The winning crew gets a trophy for its efforts, according to race spokesperson Randy Draftz.

“I think the real prize is being prepared to make a trip like this,” Walker said.

“That's the real prize in any kind of voyage like this.”

He prepared two years specifically for this race, completing an exhaustive list to meet safety requirements. “It's daunting if your mind is not in the game,” he added.

“When you make the mental commitment to go, it's just a matter of going through the checklist. That's what we did, so that's why we can leave the dock here shortly.”

Although, he's participated in shorter races, it's Walker's first race of this length.

He insisted the experience is not all about winning the race.

“But, I can tell ya any time we cross the starting line, we're crossing it to win a race,” he said.

“We're not interested in second place.”

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