Saturday, May 27, 2017

Storm Trysail Block Island Race Preview

J/44 Vamp sailing Long Island Sound(Larchmont, NY)- A spring classic, this 186nm race from Stamford, CT down Long Island Sound, around Block Island, RI and back to Stamford is an annual rite of passage for many racing yachts.

The Block Island Race was first held in 1946 and is a qualifier for the Northern Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF), and the Gulf Stream Series (IRC). The Block Island Race 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%).

The race is often regarded by the offshore racing community in Long Island Sound as the start of the summer offshore sailing season.  As a result, the race has many sailors who have participated for a few decades, starting as kids and now as adults (owners, crews, skippers)!  For them, it truly is a rite of passage, breathing in all that salt air, getting soaked in salt water by giant chop breaking over the bow in the famous “Race” or “Plum Gut”— it’s all about becoming one with the sea again and feel that salt coursing through your veins and appreciating how small human life is relative to the extraordinary forces of nature.

Answering that siren song to the sea is a very good fleet of offshore teams from across the Northeast.  Sixty-five teams will be on the starting line off Larchmont YC in western Long Island Sound on Friday, March 26th, racing in PHRF, IRC, and Doublehanded divisions; thirteen of them are J/crews (20% of the fleet).

J/120 Alibi sailing Long Island SoundThe remnants of a Low is hovering over the northeast in the Marblehead, MA area, spinning cool temperatures, drizzle, and solid breeze from the WNW at 15-25 kts.  It’s a promising start and the first leg out to Block Island should go fast, in particular for the asymmetric J’s in the fleet.

In the IRC Doublehanded class, Gardner Grant’s famously successful J/120 ALIBI with by vying for class honors.  Doug McKeige’s J/88 JAZZ will be doing the same with a Young American Junior Big Boat Team going for it in the PHRF Doublehanded class!

The eight boat PHRF 3 class has a quartet of J/105s battling with a trio of First 36.7s for class honors.  The J/105 crews re Francis Racioppi’s HOONIGAN, Hobie Ponting’s PRIVATEER-YCC, Frank Conway’s RAPTOR and the famous Young American Junior Big Boat Team sailing their YOUNG AMERICAN-YCC!  As always, the question on everyone’s mind is “can the kids do it again!”  We wish them fair winds and fast sailing!

In the PHRF 4 class, Jim Farrell’s J/35 SAPPHIRE from Black Rock YC will hope to beat out a Tripp 40, a Thomas 35 and a Sou’wester 51!

J/109 sailing fast offshoreThe nine-boat IRC 2 class has a wide range of fast offshore racer-cruisers, including past winner Len Sitar on his mighty J/44 VAMP, Carl Olsson’s champion J/109 MORNING GLORY, and yet another Young American Junior Big Boat Team on the J/120 VAREKAI-VCC!

PHRF 5 class has three J/crews that will particularly like the course layout for the forecasted winds; the two J/111s are John Donovan’s LIBERTAS and Abhijeet Lele’s VARUNA and the J/122 SUMMER GRACE is skippered by Kevin Kelley.

Finally, watch out in PHRF 6 class, one of the offshore flyers from the J/Design team will be fighting tooth & nail with other fast 40 footers, like Class 40s, custom 40, Farr 40 modified and an IMX 45.  Taking them on and sure to give them all fits will be Brian Prinz’s J/125 SPECTRE from Branford YC.   For more STC Block Island Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.