For more than three and a half centuries Block Island has captured the imagination and curiosity of traders, sailors and adventurers. From the first account of anyone knowing anything about this pork chop-shaped island was in 1524. Since then, the lure of the island has not diminished. Tourists come to the island to relax from their hectic life style, families enjoy time together riding bikes and playing on the sand. And for the sailors? Block Island is truly heaven. As far as the eye can see, and from almost any vantage point, the deep blue waters of Block Island Sound can be seen. With wind conditions consistently in the good to great range, it's no surprise that Block Island is a Mecca for sailors and racers. The Storm Trysail Club, in its infinite wisdom, chose Block Island as their venue of choice for their ever-popular and prestigious Block Island Race Week.
From all accounts, the 2007 BIRW was everything it was expected to be. Except for a short delay due to light wind on the first day, and a weather front that came in on Wednesday, the wind was up and the current strong, giving the 5 PHRF, 7 IRC, 5 one-design and Navigator (non-spinnaker) divisions a run for their money. This is exactly why so many teams come to BIRW - to compete against the best in their division, and try to out-smart the wind and the current. And to be perfectly honest, the racers enjoy the tent party each night and local eateries, including the well-known Oar which is adjacent to BIRW headquarters.
Long Island has a respectable presence in this year's racing. In fact, it was an all-Long Island Team that won the Shelter Island Team Trophy. Well, it was almost an all Long Island. Winning the top prize was the Storm Trysail Club team of Rumor, John Storck, Huntington, Challenge V, Jeffrey Willis, Huntington, and Lora Ann, Rich du Moulin, Larchmont. Rich grew up sailing on Manhasset Bay out of Knickerbocker YC. His crew included John Browning, MBYC, Chris Reyling, Steve Moore, Rich's son Ed, the grandson and namesake of Edward I. du Moulin, was the helmsman on Lora Ann. Elliot Oldak, who lives in Annapolis but grew up sailing out of Knickerbocker YC was also part of the du Moulin team. George Huntington, MBYC, planned to race on Lora Ann,, but work obligations prevented him from joining the team at the last minute. John Storck, Jr. has four very talented children, and at each BIRW, one of them gets to steer the boat. This year, it was Kaity Storck, an All-American dinghy sailor at Tufts, at the helm of Rumor, John Storck trimming the main, and young John Storck, an All-American at Hobart College and now a sailing coach at Dartmouth, Eric Storck, a three-time All -American at Dartmouth, and Ian, who is about 13 years old, rounding out the team. "I've been doing this event for 40 years," said Storck. "I started as a kid at 19 with my father and now my kids are doing it with me, including my 13-year-old." Jeff Willis had his son David on board Challenge V.
Other local teams that competed at BIRW were: Craig Albrecht, Avalanche, Port Washington YC, Sea Cliff 2nd in IRC 3 Division; Paul Strauch, Andiamo, Manhasset Bay YC, Douglaston, with Jamie Strauch, Jeff Shane and Ted Toombs on board; Blue Yankee, Bob and Farley Towse, with Steve Benjamin at the helm (Steve is the Commodore of the Manhasset Bay Frostbite YC this year and races on our bay each winter), 1st in IRC Super Zero Division; Chris Brady, Speedway Boogie, Hempstead Harbour Club, Manhasset; Hunt Lawrence, Cracker, Seawanhaka YC, NY, NY; Out of Reach III, Louis Nees, Port Washington YC and NYYC, Port Washington; Peregrine, Dan/Hunt/Coughlin/Lawrence, Seawanhaka YC, NY, NY (Dan Coughlin sails out of Manhasset Bay YC Winter Frostbite Series); Promise Kept, Sandy & Leslie Lindenbaum, North Shore YC, Port Washington, with Tom, Donna and Danielle Powers on board. Other boats readers may recognize (possibly from the Manhasset Bay Fall Series): Borderline, Bishop/Asch, Old Greenwich YC Greenwich, CT; Hustler, John & Tony Esposito, City Island YC, Mohegan Lake, NY; Lunatic Fringe, Robert Lehnert, Old Cove YC, Cutchogue, NY; Pirate, Bill Baxter, Old Cove, Cutchogue, NY; Nirvana, Bruce Walter, Hempstead Harbour Club, East Meadow, NY; Diana, Chad Ellis, USMMA, Kings Point, NY; Nimbus, Al Minella, Huguenot and Cedar Point, Greenwich, CT; Solution, Jeff Miller, USMMA, Kings Point, NY; Quintessence, Roger Widmann, NYYC, Larchmont, NY; Christopher Dragon, Andrew Weiss, Storm Trysail Club/Indian Harbor YC, Greenwich, CT; Gold Digger, James D. Bishop, American YC, NY, NY; Adrian Begley, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Atlantic Highlands YC, Atlantic Highland, NJ (David Dempsey, North Shore YC on board); Storm, Rick Lyall, Cedar Point YC, Wilton, CT (Elizabeth Dempsey, North Shore YC on board); Eclipse, Damian Emery, Shoreham, NY; Kincsem, Joerg Esdorn, American YC, Rye, NY; and Morning Glory, Carl Olsson, Storm Trysail Club/Larchmont YC, Larchmont, NY.
The married team of David and Elizabeth Dempsey raced in BIRW - except they were on competing boats in the J/109 division. Elizabeth Dempsey, who has sailed for eight years (married for four) was on Storm, a J109, which came in second in their division. Husband David, who is the son of Mary Lu Dempsey, past Commodore of North Shore YC, raced on Mad Dogs & Englishmen, finishing eighth. You know what they say about the America's Cup, "a friendly competition between nations." Well, here we have a friendly competition between spouses. Even though they was some ribbing going on, it was quite obvious that both David and Elizabeth were having a great time - hard not too have a good time, when you have just spent a week racing on Block Island Sound.
BIRW was one great week of racing in the best of conditions, with the best tent parties and dinner parties, and just plain fun. If readers are noticing that there was a lot of family participation, you are right! Each night at the awards ceremony, dads and moms were on the podium holding young children, and elementary school-aged kids skipped up to the winner's circle to gather their silver, and were a natural for posing for press photos. And a J/92 out of Rowayton, CT, Bangarang, was sailed by a crew of junior sailors from Norwalk Yacht Club. Aged 14-16, the crew is the "Varsity" from the Norwalk Yacht Club Junior Sailing Big Boat program, with owner Kirk Stirland as their advisor. Yours truly does not know if this is a first for BIRW, but it emphasizes the interest of teens in sailing big boats and their capabilities.
There was one new award presented at Block Island Race Week this year. It is called the "1 BI" Award and it was awarded to Rich du Moulin for lifetime achievement in professional and recreational sailing, sailing education, volunteerism in sailing, maritime development, promoting maritime safety and support of Block Island and the world's oceans. The "1 BI" award reflects the endless dedication and efforts of an individual to promote the importance of maritime history on Block Island and throughout the world, preserve the natural beauty and the quality of sailing on Great Salt Pond and provide sailing experience and education, especially to Block Island's children. "Richard has provided a clear course in the maritime and sailing world for all to enjoy for generations, said Storm Trysail Club board member, retired merchant mariner and 14th generation Islander Champlin Starr. The award is named after the trusted aid to navigation, "1 BI," the bell buoy off Block Island's Sandy Point that sailors, fishermen and merchant mariners have relied on for years. Rich, who has participated in BIRW since 1967, personifies the vision and mission of the Block Island Maritime Institute. "The new 'Fill a Child's Sail with a Block Island Breeze' program honoring Rich will support the children of Block Island and bring children from NY, CT, RI and MA to Block Island for sailing programs and to enjoy the beauty and magic of Block Island," said Wendell Corey, president of Block Island Maritime Institute. Richard is the son of the late Eleanor du Moulin and Edward I. du Moulin, who was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 2000. Ed was a long-time member of Knickerbocker YC, New York YC and Storm Trysail Club, and an honorary member of Manhasset Bay YC and Port Washington YC. He was also a founding member of the Nautical Center at the Port Washington Public Library and a director of the Manhasset Bay Sailing Foundation. How fitting for Richard to receive this award this year, the first Block Island Race Week without his father. Congratulations to Richard for giving back to the sailing community by providing sailing opportunities to children in the northeast.
For a complete listing of results, go to www.blockislandraceweek.com