Monday, June 4, 2018

J/Crews Dominate STC Block Island Race

J/44 Kenai- Houston, TXJ/44 KENAI Tops IRC, J/105 & J/120 Top PHRF Classes
(Larchmont, NY)- The Memorial Day classic for Long Island Sound sailors, the 186nm Block Island Race, started on Friday afternoon with a parade of spinnakers off the starting line in a fresh 15-20 kts southwest breeze.  Hosted by the Storm Trysail Club, the event drew eighty-five boats, seventeen of them J/Crews (20% of the fleet) from New York, Connecticut, Texas, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

It was a dominating performance for some of the J/teams entered in the race.  First J/Boat to finish was Chris Lewis’ J/44 KENAI at 16:06:30 Saturday afternoon, not only winning IRC 3 Class, but being awarded the Harvey Conover Memorial Overall Trophy for the “Best Overall Performance” by the Storm Trysail Club Flag and Race officers.  Their team led a near sweep of the top five in class.  Following them in third was Jack Gregg’s J/122 TARAHUMARA, fourth was Len Sitar’s J/44 VAMP, and fifth was John Donovan’s J/111 LIBERTAS.

In IRC 4 Class, Dale and Mike McIvor’s J/133 MATADOR finished fifth.  And, in IRC 5 Class, Brian Prinz’s J/125 SPECTRE took fourth.

In PHRF 3 and PHRF 5 classes, Frank Conway’s J/105 RAPTOR and Rick Oricchio’s J/120 ROCKET SCIENCE both won their respective classes and also finished 1-2 overall!  Then, in PHRF 5 Class, Brian Spears’ J/120 MADISON took third and Bill Ingraham’s J/124 TENEBRAE finished fourth.

J/44 winner- KenaiAt the prize-giving, hosted by Storm Trysail Club at Stamford YC, Commodore Len Sitar (J/44 sailor) held a moment of silence in remembrance of America’s fallen heroes who fought for the freedoms Americans now enjoy. Afterwards, Chris Lewis (owner of the J/44 KENAI) explained how they achieved their epic performance:

“This was our earliest finish ever. We are used to creeping in at night with no breeze. Generally, the rich got richer in this race as the fastest boats finished in pressure; especially the TP52 Spookie that finished at 9:05 am. We had 15 miles of very light pressure to the finish line in the late afternoon.

The race started in a fresh southwest breeze blowing 15-20 kts. The broad reach turned into a power reach halfway to The Race at the eastern end of Long Island Sound. We went from the A2 to A3 asymmetric. Some went to their Code Zeros or flying jibs.

We exited at the southern edge of the Races in a strong ebb tide, hitting 12-15 knots under A3 and staysail at 130 TWA and 18-24 TWS.

After a run to the “1-BI” red bell turning mark off the northern end of Block Island in 8-12 knots and sloppy seas, the tough part of the race began. 25 knots from the SW was reported at the Block Island airstrip, so we set a heavy #1 and soon saw cold 20 knot blasts. After a bare-headed change to a #3 and reefed main (still managing 9 kts under main only with 6 crew on the bow), we executed well around the south side of the island with all crew on the rail until we got back into the Sound through Plum Gut. With the J/125 SCEPTRE next to us and the J/133 MATADOR behind, we worked the Long Island shore, passing an XP44 (the Bermuda Race winner) with a light #1 and finally crossing Long Island Sound during midday to the Connecticut shore to pick up any afternoon thermal breeze.

For us, the key to race was the power of a modified J/44 (1.5m fixed sprit) with a 144 sq. meter 1.3oz A3 for the last 20 miles before exiting the Sound. Then, we had excellent crew work to change gears on the backside of Block Island. We were overtaking faster over canvassed boats in 20-25 knots of breeze on the wind. Finally, the 145% light #1 gave us the power needed coming up the Sound that other boats didn’t seem to have- - remember, we do have to move a lot of furniture on our J/44!!”
For more Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.