Monday, June 19, 2017

Block Island Race Week Preview

Block Island (Block Island, RI)- One of the highlights of summer sailing in northeast America is Storm Trysail Club’s bi-annual bacchanalian sailing festival known as Block Island Race Week.  Sailing from June 18th to 23rd, thousands of sailors migrate to the beautiful island five miles offshore of Rhode Island.  It’s a bit of a pilgrimage for many sailors, some are veterans of more than two dozen BIRW’s; it’s a time to reconnect with old friends, a time to relax and socialize with hundreds of other sailors, enjoy the camaraderie of a shared love for the water, for sailing and for celebrations.

Not surprisingly, by far the largest contingent at Block Island are J/Boats sailors.  Of the 145-keelboat entries, 73 are J/Teams (50% of the fleet)! In addition to the PHRF and IRC handicap fleets, the event is co-hosting several championships for J/One-design classes; including the J/88 East Coast Championship, the J/109 North American Championship, the J/105 New England Championship, and the J/44 North American Championship.

The seven-boat J/88 class includes many of the top teams that have won or placed in a J/88 event in the past year. Those teams should enjoy spirited competition, including Mike Bruno’s WINGS, Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION, Doug Newhouse’s YONDER, Ken & Drew Hall’s NEVERMORE, and Doug McKeige’s JAZZ.

J/109s sailing Block IslandThe J/109s have an enormous turnout, with 21 teams from across the Northeast corridor of America.  Many leading teams are present, including past North American champions, like Carl Olsson’s MORNING GLORY, Robert Schwartz’s NORDLYS, Bill Rogers’ BIG BOAT, Jon Rechtschaffer’s EMOTICON, Ted Herlihy’s GUT FEELING, David Rosow’s LOKI, Bill Sweetser’s RUSH, and Bill Kneller’s VENTO SOLARE.

The fourteen-boat J/105 class will have teams from Texas, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, California, and Rhode Island.  Amongst the top crews will be J/105 North American Champion Bruce Stone and his wife Nicole Breault sailing GOOD TRADE.  Giving them a run-for-the-money include crews like Andrew Kennedy’s BAT IV, Damian Emery’s ECLIPSE, OJ Young’s LOULOU, Don Santa’s SANTAS REIGN-DEAR, Mark Masur’s TWO FEATHERS and John Koten’s PLANET CLAIRE.

With one of their largest turnout in years, the seven-boat J/44 class will have very close competition.  Not only are most boats well practiced and well sailed, they all share an identical one-design class inventory of main, jibs and chutes.  The outcome truly comes down to the skills of the teams.  Don’t be surprised to see all 7 crews post top 3 finishes on their scorecards!  Those teams include Don & Dick Rave’s RESOLUTE, the US Coast Guard Academy’s GLORY, Jim Bishop’s GOLD DIGGER, Bill Ketcham’s MAXINE, Jeff Willis’ CHALLENGE IV, Chris Lewis’ KENIA and Len Sitar’s VAMP.

In the world of handicap racing, the event is considered the IRC North American Championship.  In the IRC 3 class are three J/122s (Tom Mager’s GIGI, Dan Heun’s MOXIEE, Robin Team’s TEAMWORK) and Peter Hein’s J/120 VAREKAI.  Depending on how this class is scored, you can bet all fireworks will arise from this grouping of J/crews as they vie for the overall IRC title!!

The regatta is also considered the PHRF East Coast Championship.  In PHRF 1 class, are five J/111s (Sedgwick Ward’s BRAVO, David & Maryellen Tortorello’s PARTNERSHIP, Doug Curtiss’ WICKED 2.0, Bill Thomas’ BEAU CHE II, Paul Strauch’s ANDIAMO) and the J/125 SPECTRE sailed by Brian Prinz. The PHRF 2 class includes Tom Sutton’s J/35 LEADING EDGE from Houston, TX. The ten-boat PHRF 3 class has five J/29s (Jack McGuire’s DIRTY HARRY, John Cooper’s COOL BREEZE, Steve Thurston’s MIGHTY PUFFIN, Matt Strand’s STOUT, John Esposito’s HUSTLER- a past 5x BI Week champion) and two J/80s (Jason Viseltear’s UPSETTER, John Storck’s RUMOR) vying for class honors.  The PHRF 4 class has two J/24s (Colby Thim’s NIGHT MOVES and Brian Gibbs USA 4202).

In Performance Cruising Spinnaker Class will be Ben Hodgson’s J/100 GRIMACE, Greg Slamowitz’s J/111 MANITOU, and Jeff Curtin’s J/24 UNCLE AL.  In PHRF Cruising Non-spinnaker class is Peter Hilgendorff’s J/29 MEDDLER.  For more Storm Trysail Block Island Race Week sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.