Block Island Race Week goes down to the wire
A single race on the final day decided the fate of 153 boats entered in the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week XXIII presented by Rolex.
The five-day event hosted 1,500 sailors on Block Island.
In the J/122 class, which was using the event as its North American championship, Doug Shaffer’s Gambler from Bayview, Texas, had three points to make up on leader Flying Jenny VI, skippered by David Askew of Annapolis, Md. Gambler accomplished that at the first weather mark when all the boats converged at the same time.
In the IRC 40B class, the Farr 395 Avalanche, skippered by Craig Albrecht of Sea Cliff, N.Y., started his series with a DNS because of a broken rudder, but proceeded to win five races in the eight-race series. The boat climbed to first over leader Katabatic, an IMX 40 skippered by Gordon Hall of Marblehead, Mass.
Loki, the S2-9.1 skippered by Richard Correll of Huntington, N.Y., in PHRF 4 class, also rose to the top pushing previous leader Boondoggle, a Frers 30 skippered by Scott Kirkpatrick of Wellesley, Mass., to third.
For Rick Lyall of Wilton, Conn., skipper of Storm in the J/109 class, sailing “clean and competitively” — and winning the final race — was the key to securing his Block Island victory and the 2009 J/109 East Coast Championship title.
All eyes were on the IRC 40A class to see if Cool Breeze, the Mills 43, skippered by John Cooper of Springfield, Mo., could maintain its lead over the contentious King 40 Act One, owned by Bill Titus/Allan Stern/Charlie Milligan/Tom Roche of Newport, R.I. It did, as the breeze shifted hard right and the fog rolled in.
“It was a mystery to find the weather mark,” says Cooper, “but the navigator [John Crutcher] made the right calls, and we were out in front fortunately.”
Cool Breeze won the race with Act One taking fourth to secure second overall. Cooper has competed in the Block Island race a half dozen times, but this is his first victory.
In the biggest class here, for J/105 one-designs, Bruce Stone and Scott DeWeese of San Francisco, Calif., drove Power Play to overall victory, with second-place going to Savasana, skippered by Brian Keane of Weston, Mass.
Paul Pakos’ Swan 44 Xenophon from Sudbury, Mass., sailed entirely by retired Coast Guard captains and admirals, won Navigator’s class for non-spinnaker sailing. Pakos says the class is nothing close to what the term “cruising canvas” suggests.
In PHRF 1, XLR8, an Evelyn 32, skippered by Brad Porter of Westbrook, Conn., maintained its two-point lead to win. The Beneteau 34 L’Outrage, owned by Bruce Gardner of Annapolis, Md., fell to fourth while the U.S. Naval Academy’s Navy 44 Swift, skippered by Kenneth Endicott, took its place.
In the IRC 35 class, Mort Weintraub’s Express 37 Troubador of Larchmont, N.Y., finished third, adding that to its untouchable score line that included six first-place finishes in eight races. Driving was Jamie Anderson of Larchmont, N.Y.
In the IRC Zero class, the STP65 Rosebud/Team DYT, owned by Roger Sturgeon of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., prevailed over Vanquish, owned by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and steered by Ralf Steitz of Kings Point, N.Y.
This article originally appeared in the New England Home Waters Section of the September 2009 issue.