Monday, August 29, 2016

Gorgeous, Moonlit Ida Lewis Distance Race

J/35 Breakaway sailing Ida Lewis Distance Race (Newport, RI)- The 12th edition of the Ida Lewis Distance Race concluded on Saturday, August 20 after thirty-seven boats completed either a 121 nautical mile course (Doublehanded, PHRF Spinnaker and IRC classes) or a 107 nm course (Cruising Spinnaker) that started and finished off Newport, R.I.

One of the first critical decisions of the race had to be made after the rounding the Buzzards Bay Tower- which way to go around Block Island to get to the government mark just east of Montauk Point.  Most boats all went south on that long leg.  However, the next critical decision was how to then head back to the finish off Newport’s infamous finish line at the mouth of the harbor.  Some boats went south of the island again on the way back to Newport, this worked fine for the early big boats. However, for others who got there later in the evening, a route north around the island would be the faster, better bet.

J/120 sailing Ida Lewis Distance RaceAs one navigator pointed out, the race was going to be decided between 10pm and 4am.  Many boats had planned in advance, to go north of Block Island on the way back, because if the wind went light, the current would be favorable and sweep them north back to Newport.  And, that is exactly what happened!

It was a beautiful race.  The brilliant, full moon added to the remarkable conditions, which included light air at the start, but better-than-expected winds of 10-12 knots over much of the course.  The biggest issue for many boats occurred at the Montauk mark.  A good number of them had to anchor to stop from going backwards in the current.  As one skipper said, “all the boats were stacked up there, and we were there for about three hours and couldn’t tack around it”

In the IRC Spinnaker class, Chris Lewis’ team on the J/44 KENAI from Houston, Texas managed to get around the track well against a slew of custom 45 to 57 footers, including the winning TP52 Spookie!  KENAI finished in fifth place.

The PHRF Spinnaker I class was the largest and most competitive with thirteen boats.  Greg Leonard’s J/120 HERON hopped onto the podium, taking third place.  The other J/120, Bob Manchester’s VAMOOSE placed ninth.

The next largest class was PHRF Spinnaker 2; it was inundated with a fleet of J’s.  Taking third was Paul Grimes’ Youth Challenge crew on his J/35 BREAKAWAY.  Fifth was Bill Kneller’s J/109 VENTO SOLARE, followed by EC Helme’s J/92S SPIRIT in sixth, Brooke Mastrorio’s J/109 URSA in 7th and Dwight McMillan’s J/109 AVIATO in 8th place.  Sailing photo credits- Cate Brown.   For more Ida Lewis Distance Race sailing information