Saturday, May 21, 2016

STC Block Island Race Preview

J/44 sailing offshore“Distance Racing is What We Love to Do”
(Larchmont, NY)– Most racing sailors are familiar with the Storm Trysail Club’s (STC) penchant for running world-class races across the country, and it’s safe to say New England sailors particularly prize the organization’s Block Island Race, which starts on Friday, May 27 at 1400. In its 71st year, this 186nm race for IRC and PHRF boats starts at The Cows off Stamford Harbor (Conn.), runs down Long Island Sound, around Block Island (R.I.) and back to Stamford. (A Plum Island Course of 125 nautical miles is a shorter option for PHRF, and doublehanded classes are hosted on both courses.)

“Offshore distance racing is what the Storm Trysail Club is all about; it's what we love to do,” said STC Vice Commodore Lenny Sitar (Holmdel, NJ), who will skipper his J/44 VAMP with a mostly New Jersey crew and several STC members aboard, including STC Rear Commodore and Vamp Watch Captain AJ Evans (Atlantic Highlands, NJ).” It's one of the club's most iconic races primarily because of the sailors' interest and repeat entries every May. We've never won it overall, but we've had a few class wins, some decent overall places, and quite often, a good time.”

According to Evans, who will serve as one of VAMP’S watch captains, the Block Island Race course poses unique challenges. “Its complexity with different ‘lanes’ in and out of Long Island Sound (Connecticut shore, middle, or Long Island shore), and then out and back through either the Race, Gut, or Sluiceway provide numerous opportunities for positions to change,” he said. “It's a race course of opportunities, even when you're behind, right up to the end.  We've seen leads change in the last moments of the race near The Cows.  It's not just a parade.”  Joining VAMP in IRC 3 is another J/44, Norm Schulman’s CHARLIE V.

Ray Redniss, PRO for the event over the past 17 years, also noted that the Block Island Race “is just long enough not to be a sprint, and not too long that it kills the whole Memorial Day three-day weekend.” Most of the fleet –currently 74 strong – finishes overnight on Saturday, and with the awards scheduled for Sunday afternoon, the sailors still have Monday to spend with family.

J/120 sailing Block Island raceFrom the Doublehanded group, Gary Grant (Westport, Conn.) will be back for his 13th Block Island Race on the J/120 ALIBI.  His team has won the doublehanded division twice (2006, 2013) and in both years also won the Harvey Conover Memorial Trophy for Best Overall Performance.  “The Doublehanded fleet is very strong this year,” said Grant.  “Perennial top competitors are Lora Ann and Mireille, who have both sailed this race and won more times than any other boats in the fleet.  Three new boats to the division (Helios, Inigo Montoya and Oakcliff) are of newer and more cutting-edge design and threaten to upset the old order.  It will be interesting to see how the old guys in the old boats do against the speedy newcomers.”  Joining Grant in the IRC DH group will be Chris Hall’s J/122 WILEY SILVER FOX from Darien, CT.

In other classes are a number of hot teams with proven performances in offshore events like the Block Island Race.  In PHRF 3 Class is the J/105 RAPTOR sailed by Frank Conway from Hudson Cove YC.  In the IRC 4 class, we find Brian Prinz’s J/125 SPECTRE up against their stablemates on the J/133 MATADOR sailed by Dale & Mike McIvor from Pequot YC.

Sailing the Plum Island Race in PHRF-PI class is the Larchmont YC Junior Offshore Team on the J/105 PRIVATEER.

The Block Island Race was first held in 1946 and is a qualifier for the North Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF), and the Gulf Stream Series (IRC). It is also a qualifier for the Caper, Sagola, and Windigo trophies awarded by the YRA of Long Island Sound and the ‘Tuna” Trophy for the best combined IRC scores in the Edlu (40%) and the Block Island Race (60%). Last year's Tuna Trophy was won by Christopher Dragon with first place finishes in both events.  Sailing photo credits- Rick Bannerot.   For more Storm Trysail Block Island Race sailing information