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Sail Scene September 2007 New England

Strong finish for Block Island Race Week

The wind rallied for the final day of the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week XXII, blowing early and hard at 18 to 22 knots with gusts up to 25.

Racers said it was the perfect ending for five days of racing that ended with champions named in 18 classes and the first Rolex US-IRC National Champion crowned.

The biennial race week first made its mark on this tiny landmass in 1965 and this year hosted 2,000 sailors on 183 boats from June 17 to 22. Seven of the classes with 69 boats were devoted to IRC racing, the hottest, newest rating rule being used in the United States.

Blue Yankee, Bob and son Farley Towse’s Reichel/Pugh 66 from Stamford, Conn., sailed in the six-boat Super Zero class to take the Rolex US-IRC National Championship. With its crew of notables, including skipper Steve Benjamin, tactician Edward Warden Owen and strategist Chris Larson, the team secured its victory after finishing second in the last day’s race and posting four victories and a second prior to that. The mathematical formula for determining Blue Yankee as champion was based on fleet performance, using corrected boat speed, and class competitiveness.

“Obviously there were some big gaps between us and the rest of the class,” said Farley Towse, referring to the pace of Blue Yankee, which at times put it a leg ahead of the others. “But that being said, it doesn’t matter how far ahead or behind you are because anything can happen, and with one of the variables for the national championship being a comparison between classes, you’re always sailing against time.”

With Blue Yankee having been purpose-built for IRC racing, it matched up fairly in the national championship determination against others of the same ilk, such as Colm Barrington’s Ker 50, Magic Glove, of Dublin, Ireland — which won the IRC Zero class, as well as older boats, such as Randall and Matt Baldwin’s Taylor 42 Cabady of Ridgefield, Conn., which won the last day’s race and topped 14 boats in its IRC class 5.

Going into the last day, Cabady was nipping at the heels of Blue Yankee for the national championship, but it was New Yorker Hunt Lawrence’s Ker 11.3, Cracker, in the 10-boat IRC class that rose to second in the national championship ranking, with Cabady slipping to third. Cabady, however, won the perpetual US-IRC Trophy for the best overall IRC performance at the regatta, as judged by the race committee.

“Our performance shows that a good older boat can come into IRC and compete with the custom-built IRC boats,” said Matt Baldwin, explaining that Cabady, the old Numbers, was built in 1991. “It shows that the IRC rating is fair.”

Blue Yankee received a Rolex steel and platinum Yacht-Master as the winner of the Rolex US-IRC National Championship. The team also was the top IRC finisher in the event’s around-the-island race, which also was deserving of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner timepiece as prize, in addition to the Island Sailing Club of Cowes Perpetual Trophy, first awarded in 1965 and commemorating the link to Britain’s Cowes Week, after which Block Island Race Week was patterned.

Leads from the first four days changed in only one of the 18 classes sailing the final day. That class was for PHRF Navigator Non Spinnaker, which headed off on its usual course around government marks while 17 other classes — sailing in PHRF, IRC and One-Design — competed in round-the-buoys racing on windward/leeward courses. All week it had been tit-for-tat between Paul Pakos’ Swan 44 Xenophon of Sudbury, Mass., sailed mostly by a group of Coast Guard alumni who have been coming to Block Island for 20 years, and Kel Weber’s J/34C, Rascal, of Wilton, Conn., which won the final race to take class honors by a single point. Weber is familiar around these docks; he has been coming to Race Week for 18 years and has won his class five times.

Overall winner of PHRF racing, also determined by the race committee, was John Storck’s J/80, Rumor, of Huntington, N.Y., skippered by his college All-American daughter Kaity, while Stephen Tedeschi’s Tastes Like Chicken, from St. Petersburg, Fla., took overall honors in One-Design racing, sailing in the 19-boat J/109 class. The skippers of Rumor and Tastes Like Chicken each received a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner timepiece.

The Everett B. Morris Memorial Trophy for Best Overall Performance and the Governors Perpetual Trophy for the foreign yacht with the best performance of the week were awarded to Magic Glove and the Isbrandtsen Overall Perpetual Trophy for the second-best performance went to Cracker. The A. Justin Wasley Memorial Trophy for the overall winner of the One-Design Class with the largest number of entries went to Savasana.

The Vintage Yacht Trophy for the yacht 15 years or older with the best performance of the week was awarded to Cabady. The John Alden Reed Perpetual Trophy for the best performance by a Service Academy Yacht went to the Navy’s Tomcat.

The Storm Trysail Club Red comprising Rumor, Lora Ann and Challenge V, won the Shelter Island Team Trophy. In second and third in the team competition were the New York Yacht Club comprised of yachts Arethusa, Troubador and Blue Yankee; and the Cedar Point Yacht Club comprised of Rascal, Storm and One Up.

Classic yacht sinks during regatta

Beautiful weather with moderate winds made for two days of exciting racing at the Museum of Yachting’s Robert H. Tiedemann Classic Yachting Weekend held off Newport July 7 and 8. About 30 classic sailing and power yachts raced.

An afternoon collision July 7 occurred between three vessels at a mark rounding off of ConanicutIsland, which resulted in the sinking of the classic yacht Amorita. The crew were immediately pulled from the water by nearby competitors and no injuries were sustained.

An independent protest committee of certified U.S. Sailing Judges convened to determine the circumstances of the collision, their decision resulted in the disqualification of Sumurun, a 94-foot 1914 Fife ketch and the exoneration of Alera and Amorita, both 43-1/2-foot Herreshoff- designed NY-30s.

A salvage team set about raising Amorita, which its owners say will be restored. The 102-year-old NY-30 is co-owned by Jed Pearsall and Museum of Yachting Chairman, Bill Doyle.

At the Sunday evening Regatta Prize-Giving first place in the Vintage III Class was awarded to Belle, owned by Joe Loughborogh. First place in the Vintage II Class went to Sam Croll III & Henry Skelsey aboard Angelita. Halsey Herreshoff’s Rugosa took first place in the Vintage III Class. In the 12-Metre Class, Northern Light, chartered by Mark Watson took first place. The Good Old Boats Division was won by Windigo, owned by Mark Treat, and the Spirit of Tradition Class was won by White Wings, chartered by Hap Haugh. The winner of the S-Boat Class and Overall Winner of the Regatta was Osprey, owned by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse whose team included Mike McCaffrey and Mike Fluette.

The Classic Power Boat Rally featured six beautiful commuter-style yachts including Elizabeth Tiedemann’s Pam, Don Glassie’s Rum Runner II, Earl McMillen III’s Enticer, Jurgen Friedrick’s Scout and Ken LeDonne’s Y Not Wilbur.