Chairman Simon Davidson: “Opportunity is Unique for Trying Offshore Racing”
NEWPORT, RI (February 4, 2013) — The ninth edition of the Ida Lewis Distance Race challenges sailors of all ages and experience levels to try offshore racing by competing in the popular overnighter that starts and finishes at Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport, R.I. Scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Friday, August 16, 2013, the race is open to IRC, PHRF, One Design, Double-Handed and Multihull boats and features four coastal courses–between 104nm and 177nm—that incorporate such scenic waypoints as Castle Hill, Brenton Reef, Block Island, Montauk Point, Martha’s Vineyard and Buzzards Bay.
Bringing a fresh perspective to the August tradition is newly appointed Race Chairman Simon Davidson (Newport, R.I.) who co-founded the inaugural event in 2004.
“We started with the intention of having a biennial event,” said Davidson, “but by our second running in 2006 it was clear that we had the enthusiasm from grand prix racers as well as double-handed and cruising sailors to make this event happen annually. It now is an August tradition, perfectly timed for the end of summer when activity on Narragansett Bay has quieted down somewhat.”
Davidson added that his committee’s goals this year are to expand the race’s reach to surrounding areas and “encourage more sailors to try offshore racing in some of the most beautiful and storied cruising grounds in the country, if not the world.” To that end, the event’s Youth Challenge, added in 2010, will be more heavily promoted to New England area yacht clubs, and an emphasis will be given to the Collegiate Challenge that was inaugurated last year at the 2012 event.
“There are sailors who have sat on a couch to eagerly watch the Volvo Ocean Race, but they’ve rarely, if ever, had the chance to actually compete in a distance race,” said Davidson. “With the Ida Lewis Distance Race, the opportunity is unique for trying offshore racing. It’s a medium-distance offshore commitment that requires a minimal amount of logistics, since the race is not point-to-point but rather begins and ends in the same place. It’s the chance for an owner to take his or her around-the-buoys crew on a new adventure or to integrate youth or college sailors into the team for a different kind of rewarding experience. Then, of course, for veteran big-boat crews, the race is ideal for practice and training before they move on to other distance races around the world. Rambler, Bella Mente and Decision are just a few of the high-profile teams that have competed here in the past.”
The race is also a qualifier for the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF); the Northern and Double-Handed Ocean Racing Trophies (IRC); and the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series.
The Youth Challenge
To qualify for the Youth Challenge, more than 40% of the crew must have reached their 14th birthday but not turn 20 prior to August 16, 2013. Teams may have junior crew members outside of those parameters; however, they will not count towards the youth component. Teams are encouraged to register under the burgee of a US SAILING yacht club or community sailing program.
All youth sailors will be required to attend a brief informational meeting the evening before the race (participants of all ages welcome) and will be strongly encouraged to attend the Storm Trysail Junior Safety at Sea Seminar, which will be held in Newport, R.I. in August.
The Collegiate Challenge
For the second year, the Ida Lewis Distance Race is incorporating a Collegiate Challenge for the William Tuthill Trophy. The Trophy honors Tuthill, an avid sailor and member of the SUNY Maritime College, class of 1973, who met with accidental death at sea on the school’s summer cruise in 1972. SUNY Maritime College reinstated the trophy, which was last presented in 1978 to the winner of the Eastern Inter-Collegiate Overnight Race, at the Ida Lewis Distance Race 2012, where Massachusetts Maritime Academy (on Crazy Horse) beat out SUNY (on American Girl) to win.
To qualify for the Collegiate Challenge, more than 40% of the crew must not have reached the age of 26 by August 16, 2013. Teams are encouraged to register under the burgee of a college sailing program, a US SAILING yacht club or community sailing program.
“All-Inside” Course Option Added
Some new faces are expected at this year’s Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race with the announcement of a short course addition — the Plum Island Course (126 nautical miles all in Long Island Sound) – as a PHRF-class option to the event’s traditional 186 nautical mile course for both IRC and PHRF. The change for the Memorial Weekend event means starting at The Cows off Stamford, Conn. and rounding Red and White Whistle “PI” northwest of Plum Island before heading back while the rest of the Block Island Race fleet continues farther afield to circumnavigate Block Island.
“In 2007, we had created an option to shorten the race to the Plum Island Whistle and back in case the weather was bad,” said Storm Trysail Club Rear Commodore Lee Reichart. “This year, we thought that there just might be a significant number of new-to-ocean-racing boats and crews who might like to sail that course anyway, because it keeps them from having to go out in the ocean and consequently eliminates the need to carry a life raft, which is a safety requirement for all others in this race.”
With over 50 entries to date, the Block Island Race is easily on target to top last year’s fleet of 59 (in six IRC and two PHRF classes), and with the race preceding the biennial Newport Bermuda Race, organizers are expecting to host many of that distance race’s entrants who are preparing.
The Block Island Race, which has been held annually for 67 years, is a staple on the calendar of many New England competitors and starts on Friday May 25 at 1400. It is notorious for the “fork in the road” decision that Plum Island forces after 60 miles of sailing: competitors must decide to take either Plum Gut, “The Race” or even Fishers Island Sound while leaving Long Island Sound. This decision often determines the outcome of the race.
The Block Island Race was first held in 1946 and is a qualifier for the North Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF), and the Gulf Stream Series (IRC). The Block Island Race is also a qualifier for the Caper, Sagola, and Windigo trophies awarded by the YRA of Long Island Sound and the ‘Tuna” Trophy for the best combined IRC scores in the Edlu (40%) and the Block Island Race (60%).
For more information on the Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race or the Plum Island Course (Notice of Race Amendment #1), visit www.stormtrysail.org or contact The Storm Trysail Club (914) 834-8857.
About the Storm Trysail Club
The Storm Trysail Club, reflecting in its name the sail to which sailors must shorten when facing severe adverse conditions, is one of the world’s most respected sailing clubs, with its membership comprised strictly of skilled blue water and ocean racing sailors. In addition to hosting Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex in odd-numbered years, the club holds various prestigious offshore racing events (among them the annual Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race and the Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race); annual junior safety-at-sea seminars; and Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta for college sailors using big boats.
For more information on the Storm Trysail Club and its events, including the Block Island Race, visit the official website www.stormtrysail.org.