The Storm Trysail Club’s 50th anniversary Block Island Race Week drew to a close today with two final races on Block Island Sound.
This year’s fleet totaled 167 boats in 15 classes and all but the three Navigator classes sailed a total of 11 races, making it one of the more successful weeks in recent memory. Four days of windward/leeward racing in 10- to 18-knot winds coupled with an epic Round the Island Race in 20- to 30-knot winds has many leaving the island off the coast of Rhode Island with fond memories.
“This is probably the best race week we’ve had in the past 10 editions,” said Principal Race Officer Dick Neville. “We’ve rarely had five full days of racing. Usually the weather interrupts one day. But the conditions this week have been spectacular. It might be the best race week ever.”
The conditions throughout the week were well-suited for Donald Filippelli’s J/109 Caminos, which won the Everett B. Morris Memorial Trophy for best overall performance. Caminos also won the J/109 North American Championship, awarded as part of race week.
Hailing from Amagansett, N.Y., near Sag Harbor on the eastern end of Long Island, Caminos is helmed by Filippelli’s son-in-law, Ryan Dempsey. They’ve placed in the top three in the J/109 class each of the past three race weeks before breaking through this year.
“I don’t sail the boat anymore because of Parkinson’s disease, but Ryan and the crew do a tremendous job,” said Filippelli. “It’s a 10-year-old boat and takes a lot of abuse, and I love it. Each day I tell the crew ‘Be safe, have fun and goddammit win!’”
Factors determining boat of the week include class size, total points and margin of victory. Racing in the largest class at race week, 25 boats, Caminos finished with the low score of 21 points, won four races, had nine top-2 finishes and finished 17 points ahead of Bill Sweetser’s second-placed Rush.
“We sailed conservatively, had mid-line starts and were going fast,” said Dempsey. “We were very fast upwind. I’m not sure why, but I’ll take it. It was all by-the-book fundamental stuff.”
While Caminos won the top award Josh Burack (New Rochelle, N.Y.), owner of the J/105 Peregrina, won the Emil “Bus” Mosbacher Sportsmanship Trophy. Peregrina lost its mast in Tuesday’s Round the Island Race when a shroud broke. The mast folded in half at the top spreader.
Burack then volunteered for Race Committee duty and was placed on a safety boat. Prior to racing on Wednesday, fellow J/105 competitor Damian Emery’s Eclipse broke its gooseneck during practice before the day’s first race. Burack raced back to Champlin’s Marina, removed the gooseneck fitting from his broken mast, and got it to Eclipse with time to spare.
“Before we left the dock on Wednesday, we noticed a crack in the gooseneck, but decided it would likely be fine until the end of the week, but of course the moment we went up with the main, it busted.” said Dave Shrader, trimmer on Eclipse. “If it wasn’t for Josh running in and stripping the gooseneck off his stricken boat for us, it would’ve been a lot worse. We didn’t even miss a race,” he said. “It’s this sort of camaraderie and respect for one another that makes Race Week so special.”
After four days of winds from the south to the west, today’s wind was from the northeast and blowing 15-20 knots before easing off as a weather system approaches New England. Several classes were decided in the final day of racing.
One of those was the J/105 Class, where Emery’s (Shoreham, N.Y.) Eclipse staged a come-from-behind victory to win the class and the J/105 East Coast Championship. Eclipse was placed fourth after Wednesday’s racing, 11 points out of first, but finished the regatta with a 1-2-1-2 to score a 1 point victory over Paul Beaudin’s (New York, N.Y.) loulou.
Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, R.I.) new 44-footer Interlodge won IRC 1 after a week-long struggle with Gunther Buerman’s (Highland Beach, Fla.) 52-footer Hooligan. The two traded blows all week and that continued today. Hooligan won the day’s first race with Interlodge second to climb within 1 point heading into the final race. Interlodge got the better of the boat-on-boat battle, finishing second to Hooligan’s third for a 2-point victory.
Mike Bruno’s (Armonk, N.Y.) Wings (J/122) won both of today’s races to stage a come-from-behind victory in IRC 4. Trailing Ed Freitag’s and Molly Haley’s (Annapolis, Md.) DownTime (Summitt 40) by 4 points heading into today, Wings finished with a 5-point victory after DownTime placed 7-4.
The tightest class in the fleet was PHRF 1, where 1 point separated the top three. It also was another case of a come-from-behind victory as Bennet Greenwald’s (San Diego, Calif.) Perserverance (J/111) moved up from third and won by one-half point over Kevin McNeil’s (Annapolis, Md.) Seabiscuit (Farr 30). The smallest boat in the class, Seabiscuit had led its larger rivals all week but scored a 5-5 today while Perserverance finished 2-2. Dax Ansley’s (Annapolis, Md.) U.S. Naval Academy crew on Ranger (Farr 40) placed third, another one-half point behind Seabiscuit.
Still another comeback was staged in the J/88 Class, where designer Rod Johnstone’s (Stonington, Conn.) Jazz scored a 1 point victory over Iris Vogel’s Deviation, which had led all week.
In the venerable J/44 Class, Jeffery W. Willis’ (Huntington Bay, N.Y.) Challenge IV scored two more victories today to complete the class win. It is the crew’s sixth consecutive class victory at Block Island Race Week dating back to 2005.
“We’ve had a very consistent crew,” said Willis. “With the exception of maybe two members, it’s the same crew we sailed with in 2005. My three sons are in the crew and it’s just very special to win with them.”
“Challenge was fantastic all week,” said Len Sitar, owner of VAMP. “They had great tactics, boatspeed and the crew work was outstanding. But they’ve done this before. I think they’ve won the J/44 North Americans something like 15 times in the past 25 years.”
In IRC 2, Andrew and Linda Weiss’ (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) Christopher Dragon led from Day 1 to Day 5. The Sydney 43 had all top-2 finishes and totaled 17 points. Christopher Dragon finished 3 points ahead of John McNamara’s Lir (Swan 45).
“Our ratings are pretty similar so we’re essentially sailing boat-for-boat. They’re just very hard to beat,” said McNamara.
In the IRC 3/Swan 42 Class, Paul Zabetakis’ (Stuart, Fla.) Impetuous finished 5 points ahead of Ken Colburn’s (Boston, Mass.) Apparition for his first class victory at race week since 1999.
Walt Thirion’s (Annapolis, Md.) Themis finished first in the C&C 30 Class, which it has led all week, and Angus Davis’ (Bristol, R.I.) Nyabinghi finished second, 6 points in arrears.
William Purdy’s (New York, N.Y.) Whirlwind (Beneteau First 36.7) in PHRF 2, John and Tony Esposito’s (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) Hustler (J/29 MHOB) in PHRF 3 and David Alldian’s (Jupiter, Fla.) Cymothoe (Sabre 362) in PHRF 4 all won the classes they have led all week. For the Espositos, it was their fifth consecutive class victory dating back to 2007.
In the Navigator classes, which sailed one race per day, Ty Anderson’s (Riverside, Conn.) Skye (Farr 395) won the Doublehanded Class, Brian and Deborah Mulhall’s (Ocean City, N.J.) Testing Life (Tartan 46) won the Cruising Spinnaker Class and Christopher Schneider’s (Centerport, N.Y.) Rascal (Ericson 39) won the Cruising Non-Spinnaker Class. Each had led their respective class all week.
About Block Island Race Week
Founded in 1965, the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week is one of the oldest race weeks in the U.S. The regatta is held in odd-numbered years on idyllic Block Island, about 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. Measuring less than 10 square miles in area, Block Island has been named one of “The Last Great Places” by the Nature Conservancy.
by Storm Trysail Club