The wind didn’t know what to do this morning, and there wasn’t much to push it, so the Race Committee postponed ashore until 12:30 at the Storm Trysail Club’s (STC) Block Island Race Week XXIV presented by Rolex. It was the first of five racing days, so the 1200 or more sailors on 134 boats were anxious to get started. In the end, 14 classes on three racing circles completed one race each in a late afternoon southwesterly that ranged from 9-14 knots.
Despite the slow start, the J/44s got off to a rousing regatta beginning, with Jeff Willis’s (Huntington, N.Y.) Challenge IV, the defending champion from 2009, winning today’s race. “We got a jump at the start at the committee boat end and were full speed,” said Challenge IV’s tactician David Willis (Huntington). “We were able to cover, extend our lead and find a nice controlling position, but there’s no doubt that in this class anyone can come back at you at any time.”
His sentiments were echoed by Tom Hering, a crew member aboard Resolute, owned by Don and Rick Rave (also Huntington), which finished fourth today. “All the boats here race against each other every week on Long Island Sound; on any given day any boat can win.” Hering explained the advantage of the class owning the sails rather than each owner investing separately in new suits of sails at will. “The class keeps track of the hours on the sails, and we rotate them among the boats, so it evens the playing field.”
In the PHRF Farr OD class, the Farr 40 Tsunami, owned by Preben Ostberg/Todd Olds/Bud Daily (Rockville, Md.) won, but nipping at its heels tomorrow will be Jim Richardson (Boston, Mass.), who finished second today aboard his Farr 30 Barking Mad. Andy Green, the starting helmsman from Great Britain’s 2003 America’s Cup campaign is calling tactics and trimming main aboard Barking Mad and is experiencing Block Island and sailing with Richardson both for the first time. “It’s all proper New England clam chowder, white-washed clapboard houses...I love it here,” said Green with a huge smile. “And Jim has won so much (also with his Farr 40 of the same name) and runs an amazing program, so it’s an honor to be a part of it.”
With Race Week serving as the 2011 IRC East Coast Championship, four classes are hosting a total of 39 IRC boats in contention for the title (to be determined by the best corrected speed among the winners of these classes). Of note in the IRC 1 class packed with IRC 52s is today’s winner Vesper (formerly Quantum Racing), an ex-Audi MedCup boat owned by Jim Swartz (Park City, Utah), who has made his name with a string of successful race boats sporting names with James Bond themes. Newer to the game, but a threat all the same with his commitment to success is Peter Cunningham (George Town, Grand Cayman) with another newly acquired MedCup boat PowerPlay (formerly Synergy), which finished third to Flying Jenny 7’s (David and Sandra Askew, Annapolis, Md.) second today.
“Today was a great opener for the class,” said Tony Rey (Middletown, R.I.), PowerPlay’s crew manager and member of its afterguard. “It illustrated to all of us how great the racing will be boat-for-boat here. Nobody is fast enough to let the boat get them out of trouble; we couldn’t be more excited about this.”
Three J/122s are competing for their 2011 National class title as well as for class victory over 13 total boats competing in IRC 3 class. If the rest of the week goes as well for the J/122 Plum Crazy II, which won today, the boat’s owner Andrew Skibo (Ocean City, N.J.) may just accomplish both goals.
Fifteen J/109s are competing for their East Coast Championship, and Jim Vos’s (New Canaan, Conn.) Scoot is the early leader there, while in J/105s, with 13 boats, Damian Emery’s (Shoreham, N.Y.) Eclipse leads.
Others at the top of the scoreboard: in Swan 42s, Chris Culver’s (New York, N.Y.) Blazer; in PHRF Cruising Non-spinnaker, Alan Krulisch’s (Arlington, Va.) Crackerjack; In IRC 2, Lawrence Dickie’s (Greenwich, Conn.) Ptarmigan; in IRC 4, Tom Rich’s (Middletown, R.I.) Settler; in PHRF 1, 2, 3, 4, Tom Lee’s (Essex, Conn.) Jammy Beggar, Brad Porter’s (Westbrook, Conn.) XLR8, John & Tony Esposito’s (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) Hustler, and John Storck Jr.’s (Huntington, N.Y.) Rumor, respectively.