Block Island Race Week: Regatta Mid-Point
Published on June 24th, 2015
New Shoreham, RI (June 24, 2015) – A return to normal conditions allowed the Storm Trysail Club to run three more races today at its 50th anniversary Block Island Race Week. The regatta is at its mid-point and seven races have been completed in three days. The race committee hopes to run 10 to 12 races for the series.
After yesterday’s rowdy 20- to 30-knot winds for the Round the Island Race, a westerly wind between 10 and 17 knots returned with brilliant skies, calmer seas and oscillations of 15 to 20 degrees. They are the conditions for which Block Island Race Week is renowned.
“This week is epic,” said Paul Beaudin, owner of the J/105 loulou. “Fantastic weather, no fog or rain, perfect sailing conditions…it’s perfect. This week is as much about bonding with our families as well as our competitors.”
Today’s racing saw hierarchies overturned in some classes, notably the J/109, which is hosting its North American Championship, and the J/105, which is hosting its East Coast Championship. Also, the three boats that had perfect scorelines after yesterday, Christopher Dragon, Themis and Deviation, no longer have perfect scorelines.
“We ran out of bullets today,” said Iris Vogel, owner of the J/88 Deviation. “We had our heads in the boat a little too much and the current was a challenge for us. Others are mixing it up now but that’s good. It’s very close racing.”
Deviation posted a 3-1-3 and still leads the class but only by 1 point over Rod Johnstone’s Jazz.
“They’re a little faster than us upwind, but we feel we have a slight edge downwind,” said Vogel. “It’s good that the others are mixing it up. It wouldn’t be any fun if we won all the races.”
One of the top boats on the day was Donald Filippelli’s J/109 Caminos, which posted a 2-1-1 to leapfrog from second into first with the North American Championship hanging in the balance. The 25-boat fleet (the largest at race week) includes Rick Lyall’s Storm and Jim Vos’s Skoot, winners of the past three North Americans. But it’s Caminos firmly in the driver’s seat, holding a 15-point lead over Bill Sweetser’s Rush.
“We were able to stay out of trouble today,” said Ryan Dempsey, the helmsman and son-in-law of owner Filippelli. “We were almost burned at the pin end in the first race. The wind had shifted left and there was a big bunch up. But we were able to get through and tack away.”
“Caminos was really fast today,” said Dan Cameron, the mainsail trimmer on third-placed Skoot. “Ryan just punches it off the line and they had good speed on the course.”
In the J/105 Class, Paul Beaudin’s loulou posted a 1-5-1 to also leapfrog from second into first. Loulou now has the low score of 20 points and leads last night’s leader James McDonald’s Distant Passion by 3 points. Bruce Stone’s Arbitrage is third with 29 points while two-time reigning champion Damian Emery’s Eclipse is fourth with 31 points.
For Beaudin, today was about getting his new crewmembers in sync and improving his starts. “We had great speed all day. In fact, we’ve had great speed all week,” said Beaudin. “We have a couple of new people on the boat and after a couple of days we’re working very well together. I’ve been over early quite a bit this week but today we got relatively clean starts. That, combined with really good boatspeed has helped drastically.”
In PHRF 2, William Purdy’s Whirlwind (Beneteau First 36.7) bookended two firsts around a tie for fourth and leads with 13.5 points, 10 points ahead of Tom Sutton’s Leading Edge (J/35). Brad Porter’s XLR8 (Evelyn 32-2) is third with 27 points.
Purdy has done every Block Island Race Week since 2005 when he finished last in each race and totaled 45 points. “We were even the last boat in the fleet across the finish line in the Round The Island Race,” said Purdy.
Ten years later, however, he’s dominating his class, having won four of the seven races.
“We’ve had the same core crew for 10 years now,” Purdy said. “We also have our sailmaker in from Florida and our tactician in from San Diego. I just drive and let everyone else make the decisions. I prefer doing the windward/leeward courses because our boat is in class trim, and when we race PHRF we don’t have the asymmetric spinnakers. The Round The Island Race typically scares me, so we were very happy to get a second yesterday,” Purdy said.
In the J/44 Class, Jeff Willis’ Challenge IV put forth the best scoreline of the day, rattling off a 1-1-1 to take a commanding 9-point lead over Don and Rick Rave’s Resolute, which has 20 points.
“We’ve been having troubles keeping the propeller centered. So I bought a huge clamp and put it on the shaft and that kept the prop lined up,” said Willis. “But the real key today was our starts. We nailed all three starts at the pin end. The pin was hard to get on Monday because boats were coming in on port and tacking to leeward. But today we got the pin and worked the left side of the beats. And we got the laylines right, that was also critical.”
David Alldian’s Cymothoe (Sabre 362) also posted a 1-1-1 to take a comfortable lead in PHRF 4. Cymothoe leads Bill Loweth’s and David Strang’s Brer Rabbit III by 6 points with Chris Fesenmeyer’s Air Express (San Juan 30) holding third with 23 points.
In IRC 1, Gunther Buerman’s 52-footer Hooligan and Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s new 44-footer Interlodge continued trading punches, but it was the larger boat that got the better of the newer one at the end of the day. Hooligan posted a 4-1-1 and has 12 points, 1 point ahead of Interlodge, which posted a 1-4-2. Steve and Heidi Benjamin’s Spookie (Carkeek HP 40) is third with 22 points.
In IRC 2, Andrew and Linda Weiss’s Christopher Dragon posted a 2-2-1 and has 9 points overall. John McNamara’s Lir (Swan 45) is second with 16 points after finishing 4-1-2 on the day.
In the Swan 42 Class, Paul Zabetakis’ Impetuous also leapfrogged last night’s leader, Ken Colburn’s Apparition. Impetuous scored 1-2-1 today and has 13 points. Daring owner John Hele returned after missing the first two days and scored a 3-1-3 to move into second place with 17 points. Colburn’s Apparition dropped to third with 18 points after finishing 2-4-4 today.
Mike Bruno’s Wings (J/122) also leapfrogged last night’s leader in IRC 4. Wings finished 2-1-2 and has 16 points, 1 point ahead of Ed Freitag’s and Molly Haley’s DownTime (Summitt 40). James Blakemore’s Music (Swan 53) dropped to third with 21 points after finishing 1-5-7.
Kevin McNeil’s Seabiscuit (Farr 30) leads PHRF 1 with 18.5 points. Bennet Greenwald’s Perseverance (J/111) is second with 22 points and Dax Ansley of the U.S. Naval Academy is third with 26 points aboard Ranger (Farr 40). The Navy sailors could be dominating the class but had to retire from yesterday’s race after missing a turning mark, which added 18 points to their total.
In the C&C 30 Class, Walt Thirion’s string of firsts with Themis also came to an end when they finished fourth in the day’s first race. The crew got on the back foot when they were OCS, but rebounded to win the next two races. Themis has 10 points and leads Angus Davis’s Nyabinghi by 6 points.
John and Tony Esposito’s Hustler (J/29 MHOB) has won its class for four consecutive race weeks and is well on its way to a fifth after posting a 1-2-2. Hustler has 10 points and holds a 9-point lead over Ed Tracey’s and Tim Polk’s Incommunicado (Omega 36).
In the Navigator classes, Ty Anderson’s Skye (Farr 395) leads PHRF Doublehanded, Brian and Debra Mulhall’s Testing Life (Tartan 46) leads the Cruising Spinnaker class and Christopher Schneider’s Rascal (Ericson 39) leads the Cruising Non-Spinnaker Class.
The Block Island Race Week app is available for both iOS and Android operating systems. It is the primary communication vehicle for race week, which is committed to being a paperless regatta as part of the sustainability program.
About Block Island Race Week
Founded in 1965, the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week is one of the oldest race weeks in the U.S. The regatta is held in odd-numbered years on idyllic Block Island, about 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. Measuring less than 10 square miles in area, Block Island has been named one of “The Last Great Places” by the Nature Conservancy.
Report by Storm Trysail Club