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.
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.
Meet Your Circle Chiefs
Storm Trysail Club brings its top-shelf race-management talent to Race Week, spread across signal boats, marks boats, onshore and more
By Dave Reed, Sailing World
Pictured: Red Circle PRO Ray Redniss checks the breeze to ensure his fleet has a fair and square racecourse.
For Block Island Race Week, Storm Trysail Club deploys its best race-committee personnel across four fleets, with a promise that race management will be top-notch, the way it’s always been, of course. Like that time in the early 1990s.
“There was the year in the J/35 class that the race committee only called the boats that weren’t over in a recall,” says Marcy Trenholm, past STC executive director. “All the other boats protested the committee and in those days, you had to pay $25 to file a protest. The jury collected the money, disallowed the protests and kept the money. Storm Trysail Club got a Moosehead Award for that one.”
The Moosehead Award, of course, is the ignominious honor bestowed at the annual meeting of the International Society for the Perpetuation of Cruelty to Racing Yachtsmen. It’s an award that is not given, but earned, and perhaps, a few of our Race Week PROs each have one or two to their credit.
Race Week Done Right
Take it from these Block Island Race Week veterans, you can do no wrong on Block Island—as long as you’re having fun
Whether you enter through the cut into Great Salt Pond, get off a ferry in New Harbor or on a private bird into BID, the arrival on Block Island is always magical. The journey from the mainland might be short, but the place still feels a thousand miles away. Block Island Race Week awaits you. Your teammates are trickling in, the crew house is open, there’s boat work to be done, mudslides to sling and friends to meet and make. You’ve made it. Congratulations. Now what? As a first-timer or 10th--timer to Race Week, there’s much to do and more to see, so a few veterans share their advice on making the most of it.