Storm Trysail's Block Island Race Week XXI is upon us again. This biennial event is one of the most popular and eagerly awaited sailing race weeks in the country. According to Race Chairman John Fisher, speaking about Monday, June 20 start of racing, "It looks like we're going to have good conditions. Tomorrow we'll see the end of the northeasterlies and the beginning of the southwesterlies." Good wind, great race management, plus heated competitions in a large variety of classes, plus the famously post-racing social events, make this one of the highlights of the summer racing circuit. Four fleets (red, white, blue) will sail windward-leewards on four different courses, with a minimum of two races each day planned for the four of five race days. The green fleet will race around government marks and there is one race scheduled each day. The fleets are competing for class trophies and Rolex watches. Tuesday has been reserved for the Round the Island Race, with the winner receiving the coveted Island Sailing Club of Cowes Trophy, which was first awarded in 1965. This trophy commemorates the link between Block Island Race Week and Britain's Cowes Week, after which Block Island Week is patterned. It will be awarded to the overall IRC rated boat along with a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner timepiece. The US-IRC Trophy will be awarded to the IRC boat that triumphs in the most competitive IRC class racing in Block Island Race Week.
Check out the action on www.t2p.tv, daily video shows of each day's racing, produced by the Annapolis-based T2Productions and broadcast on-line each night by 9 p.m. T2P is a real draw for the evening entertainment, as skippers and crew gather with their drink and food at hand, to watch a replay of the day's races. Its great fun to see a wild mark rounding, or watch as the competition gets "energetic" at the start. So for readers who can't be a part of this year's BIRW, the next best thing is to be there virtually, with T2Productions. Tucker Thompson gives great commentary to accompany the terrific footage. Readers may also get information at www.blockislandraceweek.com.
Local skippers listed in the Block Island Race Week Scratch Sheet include John Thomson, Solution, (Manhasset Bay YC), Avalanche, Al Albrecht (Port Washington YC), Promise Kept, Sandy Lindenbaum (Knickerbocker YC), Cabaret, Bob Limoggio, with crew from PWYC, and Arcturus, Claude Chazotte (MBYC). Results published next week.
Some notable sailors among the 2,000 who have invaded this tiny island just ten miles off the coast of Rhode Island, include Mark Reynolds, the Olympic Star Gold Medalist from San Diego who, in his first appearance at BIRW, is racing with his 2002 Farr 40 World Champion team on Le Renard. They are prepared to give helmsman John Thomson, from our bay, with America's Cup tactician Tom Whidden on board, a run for their money. Block Island Race Week's best overall performer from 2004, Pretty Sketchy, skippered by Thomas Enright, also has returned to sail in the largest class at the regatta, the J/105 class with 21 entrants. The J/109s are contesting their East Coast Championships here and are enjoying their largest-ever turnout for an East Coast event (16 boats). The event also serves as the Farr 395 North Americans.
Last Thursday, June 16, was a wild night. Skippers and crew on the way to the waterfront were greeted with a rainstorm that brought lighting and intense rain for about an hour or so. Those with basements that tend to flood had something to worry about when the short but penetrating downpour pounded our peninsula. It wasn't long, though, until the skies cleared, and the teams that decided to stay the course gathered near the Worry Wart for the start of their divisions. Others looked at the sheet of rain pelting off windowpanes and opted to stay dry and retired to their favorite watering hole. Eleven boats ended up on the starting line in four divisions. Division I (Distance 4.91 nm, Course DI) 1. Avalanche, Al Albrecht, 2. EnGarde, Charlie Cannam, 3. Free-Fall, Bill McFaul, and 4. Promise Kept, Sandy Lindenbaum. Division II (4.91 nm, Course DI) 1. Xcite, Yalcin Tarhan, 2. Vision, Marc Epstein, and 3. Irish Blessing, Ed Gillen. Division III (3.82 nm, Course MY): 1. En Passant, Bob Ebenau, 2. Tootsie, Ron Fink, and 3. Second Wind, Anthony Viola. Andy Ledins, on his catamaran, Renegade sailed course DI (4.91 nm).
Results for bay racing for the weekend of June 18 - 19 were unavailable at press time.
The Women's Racing Clinic (WRC) is made up of women sailors from across Long Island, with Manhasset Bay providing the largest contingent of sailors, with Seawanhaka Corinthian YC and Sea Cliff YC joining the team. Last week the ladies were out for their first race of the season. While the emphasis is on having lots of fun, the leaders of this troupe of sailors are veterans who grew up sailing, or have honed their skills as an adult. Others are new to the sport, and to racing. So there is a great mix of abilities, giving the more experience sailors a chance to mentor and develop a whole new set of experts. After much debate, it was decided to list the top boats from last week. Keeping in mind the group's purpose is to learn while having fun, the top boats (all sailed in Ideal 18s): 1. #173 Nan Barry, skipper, Nora Silbersack/Rita Syracuse, 2. #175, Cindy Jordan, skipper, Jamie Fagas-Strauch/Carol Allen /Jeanne Miller and 3. #40, Paula Kaminski-Davis, skipper, Kathy McGill/Becky Freifeld.
Nominations are invited for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2005 - the pinnacle award of recognition in the sport of sailing. The ISAF World Sailor of the Year Awards were first presented in 1994 in London, Great Britain and over the past 11 years, an exceptional list of the world's top sailors have been nominated in recognition of their outstanding achievement. The accomplishments of the teams or individuals nominated and those ultimately declared the male and female winners are an inspiration, symbolizing the very best in the sport. One male and one female individual or team will receive the ultimate accolade of being awarded the title ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2005, with the winners unveiled at the Awards Ceremony on Nov. 8 in Singapore. Nominations should be made on the official Nomination Form which is available on the ISAF website via the following link www.sailing.org/worldsailor/2005nominationform.doc. Anyone may nominate a sailor provided that sailor has met the simple criteria of "outstanding achievement during the period September 1 2004 through to Aug. 31 2005". Sailors nominated may represent any discipline within the sport of sailing, from dinghies to offshore, windsurfing to speed sailing, and their achievements may be as diverse as a record-breaking passage, a series of regatta wins or triumph against the odds.