Taking the Rhode Island Offshore Challenge

Published on April 21st, 2016

Talk about stretching one’s sailing legs. Last year, Tristan Mouligne of Boston was about to compete in his sixth Ida Lewis Distance Race, a New England classic that is hosted by Newport’s Ida Lewis Yacht Club and scheduled for its 12th edition this year on Friday, August 19.

But then he learned of a new challenge whereby he could win an overall trophy if he and his team could turn in the best combined score for competing in both the Ida Lewis race and the Sid Clark Offshore Race, which dates back to 1904 and is hosted by Bristol Yacht Club. In 2016 the overnighter begins July 8.

Turns out, Mouligne had both the stride and stamina to make history. His Quest 30 Samba won class at both events and overall at Sid Clark to become the first-time winner of the Rhode Island Offshore Challenge Trophy, presented jointly by both clubs.


Tristan Mouligne (center) with crew John Jay Mouligne (left), holding the Rhode Island Offshore Trophy, and Ted Winston, holding the 2015 Ida Lewis Distance Race Class A trophy. (Photo courtesy Tristan Mouligne)

“The Ida Lewis is a fantastic race on its own,” said Mouligne, who keeps Samba in Newport and sails with a core group of three that grew up sailing in Newport and includes his brother John Jay and friends Ted Winston and Nat Spencer, “but the Rhode Island Offshore Trophy (which will be up for grabs again this year) was a new one for us to go for.”

Mouligne remembered starting in Bristol for the Sid Clark race and “fighting all the way out of the Bay under spinnaker” to the waters around Block Island, then “finishing under the Newport Bridge, all lit up, around two or three in the morning.”

The Ida Lewis Race – a bit longer than the Sid Clark and between 104 and 177 nm – created its own famous tactical challenges for Samba as it worked its way from Newport Harbor past Castle Hill to Brenton Reef, Buzzards Bay Tower, Montauk Point and back to Buzzards Tower before finishing in Newport. And again, the team enjoyed an “iconic finish,” off historic Ida Lewis Yacht Club, where all finishers were greeted on the water with a bottle of champagne, no matter what time it was.


Historic Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport, R.I. hosts the Ida Lewis Distance Race each August. (Photo Credit: Meghan Sepe)

“The Ida Lewis Distance Race is the most competitive, well attended overnight race of the summer,” said Mouligne, “and Ida Lewis Yacht Club does a wonderful job running it. It’s fun to have the sponsorship, the trackers, the champagne finish, but the competition, for sure, is the most attractive part. Last year, there were 25 teams sailing in PHRF and we knew we would have to sail well to compete with the bigger boats. We had a somewhat mediocre beat to Montauk but had a great run back to Buzzards Tower with a well-timed gybe that brought us back in touch with the leaders.”

This year, Samba has its sights set on winning overall at Ida Lewis, which it has done in the past but could not pull off last year against Brian Cunha’s Ker 55 Irie.

“For PHRF, we are on very different sides of the rating,” noted Mouligne. “It matters when the wind dies and if and when it picks up again, and sometimes that’s sailing. We had a tough and painfully slow mark rounding in very light winds and adverse current near Montauk. But if we get consistent conditions throughout the race, we would expect to do well.”

The Ida Lewis Distance Race also is a qualifier for the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF) and the Northern and Double-Handed Ocean Racing Trophies (IRC).

Young crew are recognized with the Ida Lewis Yacht Club Youth and Collegiate Challenges which invite the next generation of sailors to try distance racing on for size. To qualify for the Youth Challenge, more than 40% of the crew must have reached their 14th birthday but not turn 20 prior to August 15, 2016. For the Collegiate Challenge, more than 40% of the crew must not have reached the age of 26 by August 15, 2016.

Details: Ida Lewis Distance RaceSid Clark Offshore Race

Source: Media Pro Int.

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