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Sail Scene New England

Perseverance key to Ida Lewis victory

A low-pressure system delayed the planned Aug. 10 start of the 2007 Ida Lewis Distance Race, but the following morning sunshine prevailed and a fresh northerly enabled a colorful “spinnaker sendoff” for the 14 boats competing.

By that time, the Race Committee had shortened the race — originally set at 177 miles — by 27 miles and two teams had dropped out due to schedule conflicts caused by the delay.

The race started off Fort Adams State Park at the mouth of Newport Harbor, continued past Castle Hill and Brenton Reef, then incorporated Block Island, Montauk Point, Martha’s Vineyard and Buzzards Tower into its configuration before returning to Fort Adams and just beyond to the finish line at the historic Lime Rock location of the race’s host Ida Lewis Yacht Club.

“A severe weather warning had been issued on [the day before the scheduled start] and the call was for 25 to 35-knot gusts when the sailors would be on their leg from Montauk to NomansLand [south of Martha’s Vineyard],” said principal race officer Peter Gerard. “In the spirit of caution and safety we decided to delay and shorten the course, diverting the second of two Montauk legs to a mark southeast of Block Island.”

In the end, it was lack of wind instead of too much wind that foiled the efforts of half the fleet and allowed only seven boats to finish, four of those being the larger IRC entrants that made it back to Newport before the light-medium winds on the backside of the front began playing games with the rest of the fleet.

“The bigger IRC boats got away from us at Block Island when the wind first died and the southwest breeze, which wasn’t predicted to come at all, took more than four hours to fill in across Rhode Island Sound,” said PHRF defending champion Tim Woodhouse (Newport, R.I.), who wrought every last ounce of power from his Thompson 35 Rumours to become the only one of five teams in his class to finish.

Woodhouse’s closest competitor, Tom Rich (Middletown, R.I.) aboard his Peterson 42, Settler, was keeping his handicap time on Rumours up until the last mark of the race, but then an oncoming ebb tide proved stronger than the breeze and Settler couldn’t go anywhere.

“We took the risk of trying to go between a rock and the shore for current relief and it didn’t pay off,” said Rich. “We were being swept up onto the rocks, so we turned on our engine. It was a great race until then.”

According to Woodhouse, “Settler would have beat us easily if the breeze had held.” Two of five double-handed boats — sailing in a new division for this race — were the last to officially finish and the only ones to take home trophies after the rest of their fleet gave up. They were Paladin, a J/35 skippered by Jason Richter (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) in first, followed by Off Beat, a J/109 skippered by Doug Hannah (Jamestown, R.I.).

Stephen Murray (New Orleans) defended his IRC title with his TP52 Decision, edging out Ron O’Hanley (Boston) and his Farr 50 Privateer.

The sun shines on the BBR

A record 472 boats enjoyed beautiful weather for the three days in early August that brought both the great wind and the demanding variations that are a major part of the Buzzards Bay Regatta’s allure.

After two days of reliable Buzzards Bay wind and wave that produced exhilarating sailing, sailors were not well prepared for the light air challenges and frustrations lurking on Day Three in Padanaram, Mass.

On the final day, sailors and race officials were all challenged by a front passing through and the breeze going from NNE to SSE producing some very light air at times, though it did stay at a shifty 7-10 knots through most of the day.

International 505 winner Tyler Moore and crew, Jesse Falsone, were top seeds coming into the East Coast Championship and did not disappoint.

The Etchells Atlantic Coast Championship, hosted by the BBR, attracted 18 competitive boats. Hank Lammens, sailing with former Etchells World champion Dirk Kneulman took first.

Making history were Marion’s Bryan McSweeney with a first place aboard Bully.

Peter Seidenberg, of Newport, a past Laser Master Worlds Champion, came in first out of 67 skippers competing Laser Radials.

Laser Standard sailor Emery Wager, of the Seattle Yacht Club, took a sizable lead over the first two days (six bullets) and finished first out of 63 boats.

Stephen Thomas of Perth, Australia, traveled the furthest to take home gold, topping a fleet of 124 Club 420s. Thomas sailed consistently well over the 11 races scoring three bullets and three second-place finishes.

For complete results, visit

Conn. boat rules at Swan Americans

After a second place in the final race, Bandit, owned by Andrew Fisher of Greenwich, Conn., wrapped up the NYYC Swan 42 division in the Swan American Regatta, held off Newport, R.I., July 15 to 21.

Alexander Jackson’s Amelia continued their regatta run, taking victory in the race around ConanicutIsland. However, Bandit stuck close to her rival on the racecourse to finish just 46 seconds behind and take the title by four points.

In the other classes, Leonardo Ferragamo’s Pioneer Investments by Cuordileone won the long distance race, but couldn’t prevent Jim Swartz’s Moneypenny adding the Swan American Regatta to his list of trophies. Sailing with America’s Cup veterans Kimo Worthington and Mike Toppa, Swartz’s men retained the Swan American Regatta title, taking victory by 12.5 points.

The two other defending champions also wrapped up their respective titles with victories. Joseph Huber’s Swan 44 Reef Points wrapped up the non-spinnaker division by 7 points, while fellow Swan 44 Crescendo won Class C with a 16-point margin.

Fair weather graces Newport Bucket Regatta

The fifth annual Newport Bucket Regatta was sailed in Narragansett Bay under blue skies with variable winds drawing 11 yachts and 300 people to the Newport waterfront for a great weekend of racing.

This year’s participants were split into two classes: Les Gazelles des Mers — racing class; and Les Grandes Dames des Mers — cruising class. The overall winner was Donald Tofias’ 76-foot W-Class White Wings with Clive Youlten at the helm; second place went to the Swan 80 Selene and third place to the 65-foot Meriten, Mischievous.

In the cruising class, Avalon finished first followed by Carmella and Whisper.

The Bucket Regattas began in August 1986 in Nantucket, Mass., as a casual race to prove bragging rights among the owners and skippers of seven of the largest yachts in town — an afternoon sail, there and back again, with a galvanized bucket as the trophy.

Success at the Wall Street Corporate Challenge

Teams of corporate executives traded their business suits and briefcases for life jackets and sailing gear to raise funds for Shake-A-Leg-Newport during the Wall Street Corporate Challenge Cup.

Hosted at the Newport Shipyard July 6 and 7, the 16th annual regatta drew executives from the financial and legal world for two days of racing aboard legendary America’s Cup 12 Meter yachts. Proceeds — each of the teams raised $30,000 to participate in the regatta — will support Shake-A-Leg’s summer programs for people with spinal cord injuries and nervous system dysfunction.

Team MBIA of Armonk, N.Y., won the six-race series with Latham & Watkins of New York in second place, and Bank of N.Y. Mellon Financial Corp. of Boston in third.

“Winning this is exciting, but it’s not the main reason we participate,” said Michael Ballinger, director of corporate communications and team leader of MBIA. “We keep coming back because of the great work Shake-A-Leg does.”