Welcome from the Commodore
Few regattas compare to Block Island Race Week for our on-the-water excitement and shoreside fun. While any sail lets you slip away from life ashore, a week of sailing on this special island is a true escape. The sea breezes can be sporty. The fog can be confounding. Cellphones aren’t prohibited because they’re not needed for distraction. Jackets and ties are discouraged, not required. Intense competition at every level of the sport—from Grand Prix to family-friendly—is -balanced by the laid-back vibe when we’re back at the dock.
It’s appropriate then that we welcome Margaritaville, a brand widely associated with a relaxed coastal lifestyle and escapism, as the first presenting partner of Block Island Race Week in our history. We’re delighted to be able to bring a little Key West to Block Island. And we also thank our new and -returning -partners whose sponsorship makes this event happen.
You spoke and we listened.
A no-lay-low Lay day
The Block Island Race Week Lay Day is back, and we’ve got your fun lined up
By Erik Stork
Remember the Block Island Race Weeks when everyone slept aboard their boats? When there were feeder races? How about the “band boat” that drove around the harbor to rouse everyone for another day’s racing? Or the famous tug of wars and mini 12-Meter races? While I think we can all agree we’d rather a dry bed and a real shower after -racing, I’ve always enjoyed hearing stories from the good ol’ days.
Sure, it’s fun to race every day of a regatta, but some of my best sailing memories have been from planned or unplanned off days. In 2015, at the RORC Bicentenary Regatta in Cowes, racing was canceled because there was too much wind, so we took a boat trip up the River Medina in search of a proper English Pub lunch with a good number of our competitors. In Perth, Australia, for the 2009 Team Race Worlds, we went to an animal sanctuary—koalas! kangaroos! emu!—and hosted a regatta party at our rental house; by luck alone there were no impacts to our damage deposit. Finally, I’m confident my 49er crew, Trevor Moore, holds the lap record at the local go-kart track in Hyeres, France, where 30 sailors or so from a dozen nations would take the competition shoreside. I’m lucky to have made friends from around the world through sailing, and that wouldn’t have happened without plenty of downtime over a café au lait or some friendly onshore competition.
The reintroduction of the lay day at Block Island Race Week this year is meant to recreate some of those moments. Whether you’re looking to spend time with friends and family who -aren’t racing, catch up with old friends or make some new ones, we’re sure there’s -something for everyone.
The main event is the first Block Island Storm Tryathalon. Here’s how you get your day started on the right foot, with the North Sails 5K at 0830. The race will start at the North Sails service loft, situated at the Block Island Maritime Institute and take serious runners and casual joggers across the Island in a loop that finishes at the Narragansett Inn. That mudslide will taste mighty good, and besides, now you’ve really earned it. The winner in each age/gender group will win a prize from North Sails.
After you’ve showered and explored the island, gather on the Narragansett Inn’s scenic porch for the first Block Island Race Week Trivia presented by Margaritaville at 1300. Make sure to form a diverse team, because questions will cover Block Island, Block Island Race Week and BIRW sponsors new and old.
Meet the Showrunner - Whitney Kneisley
While there are many people involved in pulling off a perfect Race Week —most of them out front and visible—this Wizard of Block remains behind the curtain making sure Race Week goes off without a hitch
By Dave Reed, Sailing World
Motherhood has nothing on the Storm Trysail Club. Raising a couple of rough-and-tumble teenage boys is comparatively simple, says Whitney Kneisley, STC’s executive director since 2014. The 51-year-old is captain of a tight ship with 250 or so crew “members,” each with strong opinions on how best to stay on course or keep it upright. In its long history, the club has only had three executive directors.
The previous queen managing Storm Trysail Club’s colony of volunteers was Marcy Trenholm, who served the organization for 26 years, always with a sharp wit, an unflappable sense of humor and skin thick as steel. In her retirement, Trenholm left big Top-Siders—into which Kneisley tentatively toed when recruited by past STC commodore Nick Langone.
She agreed to a part-time role, with no idea how challenging the assignment would be. “It’s turned into a colossal full-time job,” she says with a chuckle, “but it’s always exciting. And unpredictable.”
The scope of events and initiatives Storm Trysail Club has taken on over the years is exhaustive, but Race Week is the crown jewel as the last remaining destination race week in the United States. While it only happens every other year, the planning never wanes. Over time, Race Week’s volunteer army had grown too large to house and feed, so the organization has spent the past two years cultivating its A-Team, Kneisley says: “This is a lean-and-mean machine this year, and we’re happy with that.”
Linc and the Entourage
For this skipper and revolving cast of characters, the annual pilgrimage to Race Week means more than the races themselves
By Bill Wagner
Lincoln Mossop III is happiest when he’s on Block Island. He has been competing here since the mid-1970s and has always loved everything about the event and its location. Mossop has consistently berthed The Cat Came Back at Block Island Boat Basin and every race day is capped by multiple rounds of mudslides at The Oar.
For many years, the Mossop family has rented the Spear House, located across from The Oar on West Side Road, and Lincoln is a familiar sight riding his motorized four-wheeled scooter back and forth to the basin before and after racing.
They say he has a reserved seat at Yellow Kittens Tavern, his favorite night spot. The 56-year-old has been coming to Block Island for so long and with such regularity that he is well known by many New Shoreham locals.
Gary Brophy, pit man aboard The Cat Came Back, remembers when the team was leaving Yellow Kittens late one night and a few sailors were stumbling. A pair of Rhode Island state policemen approached and everyone was worried they were going to get hassled, but “the cops come up and start slapping Lincoln on the back and asking how he’s doing,” Brophy says.
A mid-week crew dinner at The Spring House is a long-standing tradition dating back to the days when Mossop crewed aboard his father’s boat at Block Island Race Week. Put it all together and the seven days Mossop spends on Block Island in odd years are among his most cherished.
“Block Island Race Week is the regatta Lincoln looks forward to most, bar none,” says Skip Mattos, longtime manager of The Cat Came Back.
“It’s the highlight of his year,” Brophy agrees. “He talks about it for months and months in advance.”
Mossop’s The Cat Came Back sailed to victory in the ORC Club fleet during the 2017 edition of Block Island Race Week. It was an impressive performance by the crew, which won six races and placed second in two others. Of course, Mossop was front and center at the final awards ceremony, proudly accepting the hardware with a broad smile.
“Lincoln really loves sailing, really loves having a good time and really, really loves winning,” Mattos says. “He’s very, very competitive. He’s extremely determined and can be a real tenacious bastard, I’ll tell you that.”
Mossop has owned a series of boats named The Cat Came Back and brought them all to Block Island Race Week. In order, there has been a J/24, J/30, J/109 and J/120. A dozen years ago, Lincoln Mossop Jr. and his namesake son purchased a Swan 42. “I’ve never seen Linc more excited than when he and his father decided to get the Swan 42,” says Brophy, who came aboard in 2001 when it was the J/109.
Winds of Block
What the summer winds do off Block Island depends on the big picture, but if the sun is shining and there’s dew on the deck, expect spectacular sailing conditions
By Chris Bedford, Photography by photoboat.com
Photo: Douglas McKeige’s crew on Jazz mastered the conditions of Race Week in 2017, winning seven of eight races in the J/88 fleet.
Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week marks one of the great regattas of the year. Block Island’s location—approximately 8 nautical miles off the Rhode Island coast and 12 nautical miles from the eastern tip of Long Island—situates it for a unique combination of winds controlled by the large-scale synoptic weather pattern, modified by diurnal winds that develop along the southern New England coast.
Generally, the weather map is dominated by the Bermuda High pressure and lower pressure over North America. This pattern is typical of the summer in the mid-latitudes, where land areas are warmer, thus “holding” lower pressure relative to the ocean, which is relatively cold and favors high pressure.
While this is the average, the pattern does fluctuate, mainly in response to frontal systems moving out of central North America—although the frequency and intensity of these systems are typically lower in summer. A Bermuda High can last four to seven days between frontal passages, and it’s not unusual to have an extended period lasting up to 10 days. It is normally associated with fair weather, but can have extended visits from dense fog.
Outside of this pattern, there is a secondary pattern, which can occur in one- to three-day blocks. This pattern is initiated by a cold front moving off the New England coast, followed by high pressure moving into northern and central New England and the Canadian Maritimes. Sometimes, this pattern can result in unsettled and rainy weather, especially if there is low pressure south of New England.