Block Island Race Week: Positions becoming solidified
Published on June 25th, 2015
New Shoreham, RI (June 25, 2015) – With one day of racing remaining at the Storm Trysail Club’s 50th anniversary Block Island Race Week, several class leaders strengthened their position as two more races were completed on Block Island Sound.
Unlike yesterday, however, the wind was blowing anywhere from the west to the south. One competitor reported an extreme shift of 60 degrees before the start of the second race, but more commonly the shifts were between 20 and 30 degrees. The strength also was lighter, in the 9- to 14-knot range. Some boats even used a Light No. 1 headsail in the second race.
Paul Zabetakis’ (Stuart, FL) Impetuous is one crew that strengthened its position. After moving into the class lead yesterday, Impetuous scored a 3-2 and leads with 18 points. Ken Colburn’s (Boston, MA) Apparition is second with 23 points, followed by John Hele’s (Newport, RI) Daring with 27 points.
Zabetakis added some new crew to his core of regulars before the year began. Now that they’re beginning to gel, Zabetakis has his sights set on the class’ New England Championship (part of race week) and his first class win at Block Island since 1999.
“This is our fifth regatta with the same crew and I’m very happy with how everyone’s performing in their roles,” said Zabetakis. “The boats are very evenly matched. Small adjustments don’t always get you a lot. But we’ve had very good starts this week and accelerated off the line well. Today was tough because the fleet was splitting between the left and right side of the course and we had to decide whom to cover.”
Andrew and Linda Weiss’ (Larchmont, NY) Christopher Dragon (Sydney 43) has led IRC 2 all week, but will have to keep an eye over its shoulder tomorrow for John McNamara’s (Darien, CT) Lir (Swan 45). Lir won both races today and trails by 5 points, but McNamara admits it will be a challenge to overtake the class leader.
“We nailed the starts today, we’ve been very consistent with that all week. Our crew work is gelling and we’re not making many mistakes,” said McNamara. “We’ve had a tough time beating Christopher Dragon so today was sweet, but they’re going to be very hard to beat. They don’t make many mistakes.”
In IRC 1, Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, RI) new Interlodge (Botin HPR 44) finished 2-1 and leapfrogged Gunther Buerman’s (Highland Beach, FL) Hooligan (IRC 52) for the class lead. Interlodge and Hooligan have swapped the lead all week, but Interlodge heads into the final day with a 2-point advantage.
Hooligan won the day’s first race when Interlodge couldn’t live on their competitor’s windward quarter and fell into their dirty air. But Hooligan was OCS in the second race and after re-starting tacked away to the right side of the course, which proved to be the wrong side when a lefty shift came through.
“They went out on port after the OCS, but there was a 30-degree shift to the left,” said Interlodge tactician Andy Horton. “There was also good pressure on the left side of the course all day. Interlodge is designed for winds in the 9- to 10-knot range. It’s just an HPR/IRC weapon; no interior, thin foils and fast upwind/downwind.”
Jeffrey Willis’ (Huntington Bay, NY) Challenge IV ran its winning streak to five in the J/44 class with two additional victories today. After figuring a way to clamp the propeller in line, Willis and crew have had few challenges in the class. Holding a 12-point lead over Don and Rick Rave’s (Huntington Bay, NY) Resolute in the six-boat class, Challenge IV essentially has it wrapped up.
Donald Filippelli’s (Amagansett, NY) Caminos is also in the driver’s seat in the J/109 Class, which is also hosting its North American Championship at race week. After scoring two seconds today, Caminos has strung together five consecutive top-2 finishes and holds a 15-point lead over Bill Sweetser’s (Annapolis, MD) Rush.
In the J/105 Class, which is hosting its East Coast Championship at race week, Damian Emery’s (Shoreham, NY) Eclipse, the reigning race week champion, scored a 1-2 and moved up to second from fourth last night. Paul Beaudin’s (New York, NY) loulou leads with 28 points after finishing 7-1, 6 points ahead of Eclipse.
Another crew with a nearly unassailable lead is John and Tony Esposito’s (Mohegan Lake, NY) Hustler (J/29 MHOB) in PHRF 3. Hustler scored two victories today and leads Ed Tracey’s and Tim Polk’s (Severna Park, Md.) Incommunicado (Omega 36) by 13 points. A class victory by Hustler would be its fifth consecutive at race week.
Kevin McNeil’s (Annapolis, MD) Seabiscuit (Farr 30) is the smallest boat in PHRF 1, but that’s hardly daunting to the crew. Racing against boats as much as 15 feet longer, Seabiscuit leads with the low score of 25 points after posting a 1-6 today. Dax Ansley’s (Annapolis, MD) U.S. Naval Academy crew aboard Ranger (Farr 40) is second with 30 points, still saddled from having to withdraw from Tuesday’s Round the Island Race after missing a mark of the course.
“The Navy boat is the boat to beat,” said McNeil, who sailed his first race week in the early 1970s. “The key to our week was a good race around the island. We were hauling the mail on the back side of the island. It’s hard in the windward/leeward races because we’re racing against boats that are much bigger. There’s not a lot of space on the start line so we have to get off the line cleanly and get out on our own.”
In IRC 4, Ed Freitag’s and Molly Haley’s (Annapolis, MD) DownTime (Summitt 40) finished 1-3 and now has 21 points, good for a 4-point lead over Mike Bruno’s (Armonk, NY) Wings (J/122). James Blakemore’s (Johannesburg, South Africa) Music (Swan 53), the early class leader, has 33 points.
“Today was moving day,” said DownTime tactician Jonathan Bartlett. “We wanted to be leading into tomorrow so we sailed conservatively today. Every day is different so we just have to sail our best tomorrow.”
At the beginning of the day, PHRF 4 leader David Alldian (Jupiter, FL) was worried about the forecast for lighter winds, explaining that his Cymothoe (Sabre 362) is better in stronger winds. “We hit a top speed of 11.7 knots in the Round the Island Race. That’s the fastest the boat has ever gone,” said Alldian. His fears were misplaced, however, as Cymothoe tied for first in the first race and won the second to take a nearly insurmountable 13.5-point lead into tomorrow’s finale.
William Purdy’s (New York, NY) Whirlwind (Beneteau First 36.7) also is sitting pretty in PHRF 2. After finishing 4-1 today, Whirlwind has 18.5 points and a 10-point lead over Tom Sutton’s Leading Edge (J/35).
In the C&C 30 Class, Angus Davis’s (Bristol, RI) Nyabinghi scored two firsts to close within shouting distance of Walt Thirion’s (Annapolis, Md.) Themis. Themis leads by 4 points in the five-boat class.
In the J/88 Class Iris Vogel’s (New Rochelle, NY) Deviation and Rod Johnstone’s (Stonington, CT) Jazz each scored a 1-2, which means Deviation still holds a 1 point lead heading into the final day.
There was little change at the top of the Navigator classes. Ty Anderson’s (Riverside, Conn.) Skye (Farr 395) leads PHRF Doublehanded, Brian and Debra Mulhall’s (Ocean City, NJ) Testing Life (Tartan 46) leads the Cruising Spinnaker class and Christopher Schneider’s (Centerport, NY) 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