Saturday, September 5, 2015

Vineyard Race Preview

(Stamford, CT)- Labor Day weekend's Vineyard Race is a classic American yachting event: a 238-mile course stretching from Shippan Point, through the swirling currents of the Race or Plum Gut, past Block Island, and on to the light tower at the entrance to Buzzard's Bay, to return leaving Block Island to starboard en route to the finish in Stamford Harbor. Begun in 1932, it has attracted the finest sailors and fastest boats for nearly 80 years, and its intricacies and challenges bring them back time after time. Those who are successful nearly always credit local knowledge of these tricky waters and a good deal of luck.

In 1982, Bob Bavier described the race in YACHTING magazine as one of the "yachting classics." Here's how he describes it:  "The greatest distance races of the world have several things in common - a challenging course, competitive fleets and an interesting array of famous yachts. By those standards, the Stamford Yacht Club's Vineyard Race rates close to the top. Like a miniature Fastnet, the Vineyard has a combination of coastal cruising, where currents play a big role, a stretch of ocean sailing, and a mark to round - the Buzzards Bay tower - before returning."

A majority of the J teams are sailing the longer Vineyard course of 238nm.  In the IRC 6 class for double-handed teams are some of the top teams that have also done events like the Bermuda Race.  Taking on the challenge this coming gorgeous holiday weekend will be the J/111 EAGLES DARE skippered by Mike Piper, the J/120 ALIBI helmed by Gardner Grant and the J/120 MIREILLE led by Hewitt Gaynor.  Unusually, the IRC 7 class is also classified as doublehanded, but is dubbed the Class 40 and includes 40 footers; joining them is the J/122 WILEY SILVER FOX with Chris Hall skippering.

The PHRF Class 8 has a trio of J/105s participating and it may become the battle of the junior teams hailing from American YC and Pequot YC.  AYC Juniors are sailing YOUNG AMERICAN and the PYC Juniors are sailing TRUANT.  Hoping to give them a run for the money will be Marcus Wunderlich’s STRATOS.

IRC Class 9 has a quartet of J/109s sailing, all good offshore crews like Jim Vos’ SKOOT from Stamford YC, RHIANNON III (Cao Deambrosio/ Chris Nicolls from Stamford YC), David Rosow’s LOKI from Pequot YC, and Bob Siegel’s PAX 3 from Stamford YC.

A trio of J/120s are taking on IRC Class 10, including Steve Levy’s EAGLE, Marcus Cholerton-Brown’s SUNSET CHILD and Greg Leonard’s HERON.  Finally, in IRC CLASS 11, John Pearson’s J/122 RED SKY will have to contend with four very well-sailed J/44s with heaps of offshore experience amongst them- Norm Schulman’s CHARLIE V, Chris Lewis’ KENAI, Joerg Esdorn’s KINCSEM and Len Sitar’s VAMP.

On the shorter Seaflower Reef Pt Course, a boat that normally does the longer double-handed events will instead be sailing in PHRF 4- the J/92 THIN MAN skippered by Todd Aven.  Then, in PHRF 5 we find the following J teams; the J/105 CLEAN SLATE (Marc Berkowitz); and two J/109s- GUARDIAN J (Don Dwyer of Essex YC) and SWEEET CAROLINE (Chris Ercole from Hempstead Harbour YC).  For more Vineyard Race sailing information