Storm Trysail Club’s 69th Block Island Race

Published on May 27th, 2014

The 69th Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race, which started on the Friday (May 23) of Memorial Day Weekend, attracted–coincidentally enough–69 boats and saw George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) Reichel Pugh 90 Rambler as the first to finish early Saturday morning after some 17 hours and change of racing.

Rambler last year smashed the record for the 186 nautical mile race (from The Cows off Stamford, Conn., down Long Island Sound, around Block Island, R.I. and back to Stamford, finishing just inside the breakwaters) by finishing it in 13 hours, 15 minutes and 55 seconds, but this year’s performance will still be a favorite for David, whose haul of silver represented not only the best elapsed time in IRC Fleet (Governor’s Race West Trophy) but also best corrected time in IRC Fleet (William Tripp Jr. Memorial Trophy) and a class victory (IRC 6).

“Never in our lives have we had the max ebb with us and the same for the flood on the return,” said David, referencing the notoriously difficult currents that are typically encountered at ‘The Race’ and ‘Plum Gut’, two passage choices for exiting and re-entering Long Island Sound. “This actually works, given an expected five or six hours for the trip around Block from the Race/Gut exit to the same gate on the way back. More typically what happens is we have the flood on the nose on the way out and same for the ebb on the way back. Looks like we get it right every 20 years or so, which is about how many Block Island races I have done.”

The polar opposite of David’s veteran race team was Young American, the J/105 that won PHRF 1 and represented American Yacht Club with its junior team aboard. According to the team’s coordinator and solitary adult crew member Peter Becker (Rye, N.Y.), the seven Young American juniors are part of the club’s junior big boat program, which sees 35 kids between the ages of 14 and 17 “spending a huge amount of time on the water learning sailing and seamanship skills.”

“Beating out the Sound, we were underpowered, and there was a funny sea wave,” said Becker, “but they magically called a couple of shifts, got inside some big lifts and were in good company. The biggest problem was the big boats, which were in better wind and better current, while the smaller boats had the current turn on them. Coming back we were in foul current, which was not enjoyable at all.”

Finishing around 4 a.m. on Sunday, the Young American team thought they had done horribly but soon learned they were first in PHRF Class 1 and third overall. The team also won the Harvey Conover Memorial Overall Trophy, “awarded to the boat that has won her class and, in the judgment of the Flag Officers and Race Committee, had the best overall performance.”

Peter Becker’s son, Key Becker, who was one of three designated skippers onboard, summed up the experience by saying, “It was pretty light, but instead of getting frustrated, we held it together, worked as a team, shared our ideas and made it work.”

Competing were six classes for IRC (including one for Doublehanders), four for PHRF and one for One-Design (J/44).

The Block Island Race, hosted by Storm Trysail Club and Stamford Yacht Club, 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). 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%).

Event websiteResults

About the Storm Trysail Club
The Storm Trysail Club, reflecting in its name the sail to which sailors must shorten when facing severe adverse conditions, is one of the world’s most respected sailing clubs, with its membership comprised strictly of skilled blue water and ocean racing sailors. In addition to hosting Block Island Race Week in odd-numbered years, the club holds various prestigious offshore racing events (among them the annual Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race and the Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race); annual junior safety-at-sea seminars; and the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta for college sailors using big boats.

Report by Media Pro International

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