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30th edition of Block Island Race Week

Published on June 23rd, 2023

“In 1965, we had 175 boats come to Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week and 30 years later we are still going strong with 177 boats,” noted Race Chair Andrew Weiss of the 2023 edition on June 19-23. “It has been a fantastic week of racing, parties, and fun – so here’s to 30 more.”

The week started off strong with three races completed on both Monday and Tuesday under sunny skies and consistent easterly winds. Wednesday provided perfect conditions for the Regatta Craft Mixers Round the Island race with one of the fastest laps in history.

Thursday became a welcome and well-deserved lay day for the fleet. With 25-knot morning winds and grey skies creating a lay day made for napping followed by a laughter-filled Mount Gay Rum Day party to kick off an evening of food and community camaraderie across the island.

Friday started off slow, a one-hour delay onshore as the Race Committee waited for the northerly breeze to die and the southeasterly gradient to fill in. After sending the fleets out, the wind didn’t want to cooperate for the Guardian Jet Blue Fleet and McMichael White Fleet as it never filled.

However, the GMT Composites Performance Cruising Green Fleet did get a race off as there was a breeze closer to the shore. Sailors and organizers were relieved for those first three days of great racing and to wrap-up the 30th Race Week.


Among the 18 classes, the Teamwork syndicate dominated with their J/122 in the ORC 3 division, walking away with the ORC Trophy overall and Impetuous in ORC 2 with their Swan 42.

“it really isn’t about the results for us when it comes to Block Island Race Week,” said Impetuous owner Paul Zabetakis as he reminisced how they first started coming to Race Week in 1987 and how this week is more about getting together with the crew who has become like family.

“We have been taking notes about currents and trends since those early days,” said Zabetakis, also currently the Commodore of the New York Yacht Club. “We pull them out every time, and we read, argue and laugh about mistakes we made years ago, then try to put it all together.”

Bill Zartler‘s J/105, Deja Voodoo, had seven bullets and one third dominating the 24-boat fleet. He also walked away with the A. Justin Wasley Memorial Trophy for capturing the largest one-design class, the Isbrandtsen Overall Perpetual Trophy for the best Corinthian team, and the most coveted trophy, the Everett B. Morris Perpetual Trophy recognizing the overall Boat of the Week.

The team is gearing up for the North Americans this Fall and he attributes their crew communication and roles onboard to their success. “I have Ryan Glaze calling tactics with his head out of the boat and Gray Rackley focused only on the boat speed through the water,” notes Zartler. “We all talk and keep clear communication open.”

John Greifzu, Jr. and the Growth Spurt crew were crowned the 2023 J/109 North American Champions, as the fleet of 13 used Race Week as their top national event.

“We choose Block Island Race Week as our venue for the championships because of the great race organization and the perfect weather for the J/109,” said Class Representative and Vento Solare, skippered by Bill Kneller.

The J/44s were also back at Block Island Race Week after a multi-year hiatus, with six on the starting line. Chris Lewis and his Kenai crew walked away with the hardware for that class. Lewis also won the Vintage Yacht Trophy for the oldest boat with the best performance.

There are many other ways to win recognition at Block Island Race Week. Earlier in the week at the Storm Trysail Club members party, Ellyn Osmond, was given the Abrams Family Trophy for her dedication to Race Week for as a young sailor then a hard-working volunteer for 21 editions.

The Stark Raving Mad tender crew was recognized for their service and camaraderie with the Emil “Bus” Mosbacher Sportsmanship Trophy. The crew helped the J/29 Dirty Harry after they lost their rudder in the Round the Island Race. They also towed in the GP 42 Settler earlier in the week and rescued a lost VHF radio for a smaller Performance Cruising Boat.

The Governors Perpetual Trophy for the best foreign yacht went to Menace, the IC37 from New Zealand, who also dominated the ORC 1 class. When asked what brought them to Block Island Race Week from the Southern Hemisphere, crew member Matt Mitchell said “for the fun of it. We’ve never been to Block Island so it’s been a fun trip.”

What is old is new again with a rededicated Danforth Trophy— first awarded when Kialoa delayed racing by running aground in the channel. In 2023, this trophy was awarded to the best performance by a yacht with most of the crew living aboard.

Beth Berry, aboard the Tartan 4100 Kyrie in the Performance Cruising class was the first to walk away with this recognition. Berry, from Annapolis, just competed in an all-women’s crew from the Annapolis to Newport Race and will go on from here to compete in the Marblehead to Halifax Race in July.

“My boat is a point-to-point boat and we first came to Block Island Race Week in 2021 because we love the distance race option for us,” said Berry. “I have a great crew, and we have such a good time. It’s great also to have amazing competition.”

The Gem Trophy honoring the young crew award was awarded to Mad Blue helmed by the MudRatz Youth Offshore team on their J/105.

New for 2023, the Storm Trysail Club Women’s Committee dedicated the Elmina Trophy for a top woman skipper or woman-crewed boat. Sponsored by Safe Harbors, this award was bestowed to Kristen Robinson who finished on the podium with her J/105, Velvet Hammer.

The other trophy that everyone vies for is the Island Sailing Club Of Cowes Perpetual Trophy for the overall winner in the Round the Island Race. This year that honor went to John Cooper’s Mills 43 Cool Breeze crew for the fastest corrected time among the ORC boats.

Event informationRace detailsResults

Source: STC

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