RACE DAY LOST, DAY OFF GAINED
It didn’t matter that the sun wasn’t out, just that there was a slight promise the wind would blow on this third day of the Storm Trysail Club’s (STC) biennial Block Island Race Week XXIV presented by Rolex. The Race Committee sent the event’s fleet of 134 boats off to sail in 14 classes on Block Island Sound, but when the wind failed to deliver, it returned the competitors to wait ashore for further instructions and at 1:00 decided it best to cancel racing altogether for the day.
“Between the lack of wind and a squall getting ready to roll over the island, it was the prudent thing to do,” said Principal Race Officer Dave Brennan, noting that light air also caused postponements ashore on Monday and Tuesday but allowed for racing in the afternoons nevertheless. Unfortunately, the front passing today would have only rain to offer and nothing behind it wind-wise.
“It is what it is,” said Kevin Burnham (Coconut Grove, Fla.), a Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and 470 Men’s Olympic Gold Medalist sailing in IRC 2 aboard Jack Lefort’s (Stuart, Fla.) After Midnight. “We’re here for fun, not for sailing in the rain, so they made the right decision.”
That might have been easy to say back on shore, but action on the water in this class has been painting a fiercely competitive picture. After Midnight is a Tripp 41 chartered by LeFort and owned by Steve and Heidi Benjamin (Norwalk, Conn.), who are sailing their Custom 41 High Noon in the same class. (Burnham playfully pointed out that the respective sail numbers, US 1201 and US 1200, are a play off the two boat names.) Both teams are champion material, but they are in eighth and fifth, respectively, and Lawrence Dickie’s (Greenwich, Conn.) Ker 43 Ptarmigan is seemingly unstoppable, leading with three bullets in as many races.
For Henry Little (Newport, R.I.) aboard Charlie Milligan’s (also Newport) Act One, currently fifth in IRC 4, having the afternoon off wasn’t such a bad prospect, even though a few races today would have bettered the boat’s chances of catching up with class leader Settler, owned by Tom Rich (Middletown, R.I.).
“Block Island is a wonderland for things to do,” said Little, who soon began planning with David Doody (Bedford, N.Y.), a crew member off Bill Clemen’s (Riverside, Conn.) Coyote in IRC 3, to buy a clam rake for $64 dollars and a one-week clamming license for $20 in order to dig up a raw bar of Little Necks, Quahogs and Steamers. “Eighty four dollars for as much fun in the mud as you can have?,” he joked, “I’d say that’s a good deal.”
Doody said Coyote hasn’t been faring as well as his team would have wished on the race course (they are currently tenth), “but today I can say we held our own, and if we can get a couple o’ dozen littlenecks ahead of the game, we’ll be in good shape.”
Tomorrow, more rain is in the forecast for the morning, and light air is anticipated after that. Dave Brennan said that Race Week’s Around the Island Race, which is traditionally held on Wednesday, might be held on Friday. “That’s the last day with sufficient enough wind to possibly get the boats around,” he said.
Racing concludes Friday for the five-day competition, which is hosting IRC (four classes), PHRF (five classes) and One-Design (Farr, NYYC Swan 42, J/44, J/109 and J/105) racing. The event is also serving as the 2011 IRC East Coast Championship, the J/122 National Championship (with the contenders sailing in IRC 3), and the J/109 East Coast Championship.
Today was Rolex Race Day, and Gowrie Group and Sailing World co-hosted the post-racing party under the “Big Top” Race Week tent, where nightly awards and daily highlight videos by T2p.tv are enjoyed. (The daily highlights are also broadcast on-line at www.blockislandraceweek.com and www.t2p.tv each night by 9pm)
Race headquarters for the 2011 Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex are located at The Oar Restaurant. Sponsors are Rolex, Toyota, Caithness Energy, Mount Gay Rum, Vineyard Vines, ING Clarion, Gill, Gowrie Group, UK-Halsey Sailmakers, Bitter End Yacht Club, New England Ropes, Hall Spars, Fiji Waters, West Marine, Robert Oatley Vineyards, Heineken, Sailing World, and WindCheck.
A Rolex timepiece will be raffled off at the end of the event along with a trip to the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda to benefit the Block Island Rescue Squad, Block Island Maritime Institute and the Block Island Early Learning Center. (In 2009, this Race Week Raffle raised more than $16,000 for Block Island charities.) As well, a bid to the 25th Anniversary Pro Am Regatta at Bitter End Yacht Club will be won by one lucky Race Week class winner drawn from among all class winners on closing night.
For more information, visit www.blockislandraceweek.com where WindCheck magazine’s Daily Race Week News can be read online. Follow us on facebook and twitter @BIRWXXIV.
> About Rolex Watch U.S.A.
Since Rolex Watch U.S.A. first presented timepieces to America’s Cup defenders in 1958, the company has consistently recognized and encouraged excellence in every important arena of competitive sailing, including elite athlete preparation, US SAILING championships, disabled sailing, and offshore, one-design and women’s events.
Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex joins other prestigious Rolex-sponsored events in 2011 including the Rolex Miami OCR, Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, Rolex Fastnet Race, Rolex Farr 40 World Championship, Rolex Big Boat Series, Rolex International Women’s Keelboat Championship, Rolex Osprey Cup and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
> About Storm Trysail Club
Reflecting in its name the sail to which sailors must shorten when facing adverse conditions, the Storm Trysail Club is one of the world’s most respected sailing clubs, with its membership comprised strictly of skilled blue water and ocean racing sailors. www.stormtrysail.org.