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.
Sailing Instructions Posted and other important annoucements
- Sailing Instructions are posted to Yacht Scoring. To save on paper, we will not provide physical copies at them at registration.
- Register your crew and sign the waiver. All sailors must sign the waiver before racing. When you add your crew member to your Yacht Scoring account, they will be sent the wavier and get race announcements as well.
- Buy your Raffle Tickets to support local Block Island charities and win amazing prizes from our partners like a week-long stay at Margaritaville Resorts in Florida.
- Sign up for the 1st Storm Try-athalon during the Lay Day as a Team or Individual to take part in the North Sails 5K, Trivia presented by Margaritaville, and/or the New England Ropes Tug 'o War.
- A reminder that there is no discharge, use of chemicals, or bottom cleaning in Salt Pond and to further our sustainability efforts, please do not use single use water bottles. Filling stations will be available throughout and we encourage boats to bring gallons not cases for sailing water consumption. See our website for more information.
- Have you rented your linens yet? Do you need a bike or moped for the week? Would you like to take part in free yoga each morning? We have a wealth of discounts and offerings from local business, we are building quite a list of resources on our Block Island information.