Storm Trysail Club’s 66th Block Island Race
Rambler Breaks Record
Double-handed Team Jaded Turns in Best Overall Performance
mercredi 1er juin 2011 –
The 186 nautical mile race, a Long Island classic that has been held annually for 66 years, started on the Friday afternoon of Memorial Day Weekend and sent 59 boats in eight classes (six IRC and two PHRF) on a course from Stamford, Conn. (where host Stamford Yacht Club is located), down Long Island Sound, clockwise around Block Island (R.I.), and back. Rambler 100 finished early Saturday morning after sailing for just over 15 hours and 43 minutes, while the last boat finished Sunday afternoon just after 4 p.m.
Though gaining an edge in the Block Island Race typically means correctly choosing between two current-ridden passages –Plum Gut and “The Race”–for the fastest transport to Block Island (and then again coming back from it), this year’s key to success seemed to lie in getting to the Long Island shore as quickly as possible after the start.
“Whoever got there got the new breeze first,” said Event Chair Ray Redniss, explaining that the fleet started upwind in 9-12 knots when in past years spinnaker starts have prevailed. Rambler’s class was the last to start, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Marine Marine nationale Academy’s (Kings Point, N.Y.) Reichel/Pugh 65 Vanquish, sailed by the youthful Oakcliff All American Team, made the move to shore first, while others who were in the middle of the Sound seemed stuck. According to Rambler 100’s manager and crew member Mick Harvey (Newport, R.I.), his team was becalmed just a half hour after the start but overtook Vanquish about 1 ½ hours into the race after the southwest breeze kicked in and “surprisingly held steady” enough to carry the team out of the Sound and around Block Island. Rambler 100’s navigator Peter Isler chose to pass through Plum Gut both coming and going, but it was during the return from Block Island to the Gut where the wind lightened to 5 knots or so for a couple of hours.
According to George David, who steered the boat, “We thought our chances (for breaking the record Record #sailingrecord ) were gone over the last 12 miles coming back into the Gut. This was the lightest sustained air for us...then it changed right at the Gut, and we carried 12+ knots (at the masthead) all the way past Stratford Shoal and up to three miles from the finish. The record Record #sailingrecord looked more and more likely as we came down the Sound and the breeze held, which we hadn’t expected at all.”
Breaking the record despite some light breezes may have had much to do with Rambler 100 being 20 feet longer and 10 tons lighter than Boomerang, with a mast 30 feet higher to harness more wind aloft, but the accomplishment also had sentimental meaning for David. “We had three runs at it with the 90 footer (Rambler), so we’d have to say we were looking for it,” said David.
Noting that Rambler 100’s mission is to break existing records and establish a new record from Newport to The Lizard (Cornwall, U.K.) in the 2011 Transatlantic Race later this summer, Mick Harvey added, “If we had had breeze the whole way in the Block Island Race, we might have taken only 10 hours to get around.”
Peter Rugg (New York, N.Y.) on the J/105 Jaded, also saw the advantage of going to the Long Island shore right away, but since he started first in the 11-boat double-handed class (sailing with Dudley Nostrand of Hamilton, Mass.), he had no other classes to follow there. “The NOAA forecast said five knots out of the southeast for the next couple of days, but because we didn’t have that at the start (it was out of the east and even a bit north of that), we didn’t think it would hold. We were the first boat to tack to the Long Island shore, and when we saw other boats sailing there in a 15-knot southerly to southwest breeze, we said ‘holy smokes this is important.’”
About a mile from Plum Gut, Rugg noted that only those with code zero sails were able to stay high enough on shore to avoid “running into competing doldrums” in the middle of the Sound. “When we got close to the Gut, the breeze died, but we had just enough wind to squeak around the corner and be flushed through the Gut on a fair current,” said Rugg.
Rugg said Jaded ran into a bit of a drifter on the north side of Block Island, but the south side greeted them with more wind, some chop, and the lasting impression of baby nurse sharks all around. “The last two miles to the finish were the worst,” said Rugg. “The wind dropped, the tide was taking us away from the mark, and we were rolled by another double-handed boat. We just had to finish before we gave away our time to the other boats.” Jaded did that successfully, winning not only the Gerold Abels Trophy for the best performance by a double-handed team but also the Harvey Conover Memorial Overall Trophy, awarded to the boat that has won her class and, in the judgment of the Flag Officers and Race Committee, had the best overall performance.
Rambler 100 won both the Governor’s Race West Trophy for best elapsed time in the IRC fleet and the William Tripp Jr. Memorial Trophy for best corrected time. It also won the Commodore’s Trophy, which goes to the boat that has won her class and has beaten the 2nd and 3rd place boat by the greatest margin of time.
In PHRF class, Threebeans, owned by Christopher Rosow (Fairfield, Conn.), won both the Terrapin Trophy and the Governor’s Race East Trophy (best corrected and best elapsed time, respectively)
Press info Block Island Race / www.stormtrysail.org.