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On The Bay: July 5, 2013

It’s the 25th Anniversary of Block Island Race Week, that iconic race the Storm Trysail Club holds every other year.  It is known for great wind, unbelievable competition, terrific tent parties each night, the best race management going – all of which create a loyal following that brings teams coming back year after year (on the off years) to race. After 5 decades of racing, the event is only getting better.  First held in 1965, the five-day competition, originally patterned after Cowes Week, is one of the few weeklong regattas that still exist.  Over 1500 sailors competing on 182 teams, BIRWXXV has something for everyone.  To celebrate this special edition of BIRW, the powers that be reinstated post-race revelry with gusto – that is in addition to the tent party, of course. So in addition to the “usual” festivities at the post-racing party, teams were playing Cornhole (kind of like a ring toss using a 16 oz. sack aimed at a mark). Volleyball, badminton, jousting are also available each day and are free.  

There are six teams in Block that hail from the Manhasset Bay area:  Bob Schwartz, Nordlys, J109, Manhasset Bay YC; Paul Strauch, Andiamo, J111, Manhasset Bay YC; Craig Albrecht, Avalanche, Farr 395, Port Washington YC; Arthur Buhr, Leverage, Schock 40, Port Washington YC; Gary Panariello, Courageous, J80, North Shore YC; and Chris Brady, Speedway Boogie, Colgate 26.  After three days of racing, Andiamo is in first place in the J111 class, with a five-point lead over the boat in second place.  Avalanche ended the first two days of racing with a commanding lead, only to see it taken away on Wednesday when they were over the line early and had some other difficulties.  The leader in their division is Andrew and Linda Weiss on Christopher Dragon VIII, who hold a small 3-point advantage.  Courageous is in 3rd place in the J80 fleet.  Nordlys, Leverage and Speedway Boogie are about mid-fleet – but there are still two more days of racing and anything can happen!

Bob Schwartz, besides campaigning his Nordlys to most of the big championships on the east coast, is also the National J109 Class Association President.  And he knows how to throw a great party.  Since the J109 fleet is competing for their East Coast Championship here on Block, there’s got to be a party. So on Tuesday, June 25, about 150 – 200 racers gathered under and around Bob’s Tiki bar for an evening of barbeque, libation and camaraderie.  He had this to say about BIRWXXV, “The J109 is the largest one-design fleet at Block for boats over 30 feet.  And the competition is fierce. We were really pleased with the J109 turnout this week; the first J109 popped out the mold 10 years ago and we are still a strong racing class.  We attribute that to good management of the class rules to ensure safety, fairness, and reasonable expenses, which helps to maintain a competitive fleet. We have many families racing their boats creating strong sense of camaraderie amongst the team.  Sailing conditions at Block are great with terrific race management by Storm Trysail.  And the Mudslides are not bad, too.”

This column is brought to you by the generosity of the Storm Trysail Club, specifically Dick Neville, On-the-water Co-chair for BIRWXXV, who lent your columnist his office space (with Wi-Fi) to complete this column.  Many thanks to Dick and the Storm Trysail Club!

Stay tuned – there will be more information in the next column about the final results on Block.