1BI Wednesday

2019BIRW SRC 6120

Lay Day. Fun Day.

That was pretty much the theme as host Storm Trysail Club called a mid-week break to Block Island Race Week, presented by Margaritaville.

Organizers with Storm Trysail Club re-introduced the lay day following a lengthy hiatus in response to participants, who wanted one day to enjoy all Block Island has to offer. It really wasn’t that dramatic a change as lack of wind has routinely produced an unintended lay day many times in the past. 

Indeed, that wound up being the case on Wednesday as the three one-design classes – J/88, J/105 and J/109 – had requested to race instead of observing the lay day. However, becalmed conditions led to a morning postponement, which turned into an abandonment when the afternoon sea breeze did not fill in sufficiently. 

Not to worry, Storm Trysail Club and its many supporting partners had plenty of fun activities lined up for the sailors. Things got off to a rousing start with 95 runners competing in the inaugural Lowell North Memorial 5K, organized and sponsored by North Sails. 

A start-finish line was set in front of the North Sails temporary loft on Ocean Avenue and the course took runners along Beach Avenue to Center Road up to the Block Island State Airport. They turned around and headed down to West Side Road – turning right and going past The Oar and regatta headquarters at the Narragansett Inn before finishing. 

 Ben Quatromoni, pitman aboard Interlodge IV, was the overall winner with a superb time of 19 minutes, 55 seconds. Quatromoni got out to a fast start and left his lone competitor behind during the long uphill climb along Ocean and Beach avenues. The Newport, Rhode Island resident was one of three Interlodge IV entrants along with headsail trimmer Dave Armitage and navigator Geoff Ewenson. 

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There are many traditions associated with Block Island Race Week. Sailors know to expect certain things over the course of the five-day event, which is why so many keep coming back.

One of the most revered traditions is the Around the Island Race, which is associated with Block Island Race Week as much as drinking Mudslides at the Oar or dancing to live music at Yellow Kittens.

With a building breeze forecast, on-water chairman Dick Neville delivered the regatta’s signature competition earlier than expected. There was some noticeable anxiety among sailors on the docks when Neville announced over the radio that North Sails Day would feature the Around the Island Race.

That news prompted a thorough review of the forecast with navigators, tacticians and strategists now processing that information through the lens of a counterclockwise circumnavigation of Block Island. 

Cameron Appleton, the tactician aboard the IRC 52 Fox, was overheard consulting with trimmer Scott Nixon about the sail inventory in terms of what would be needed during the various points of sail likely to be encountered during the Around the Island Race. 

Similar discussions were no doubt held aboard all 122 boats competing in Block Island Race Week, Presented by Margaritaville. Doing a 20-nautical mile distance race that pretty much completes a circle is a vastly different undertaking than windward-leeward action around the buoys. 

Organizers with Storm Trysail Club had initially pegged the distance race for Thursday, but Neville switched gears after reviewing updated forecasts that showed the wind getting lighter later in the week.  

“We always want to do the Around the Island Race on the breeziest day of the week and the way the forecast shaped up that was today,” Neville said. “We knew it would be rainy, but fortunately there was very little thunder and lightning while the squalls were manageable.”

Added to the mix on Tuesday was a front that enveloped Block Island and brought thunderstorms and torrential rains. Gavin Brady, helmsman aboard the TP52 Beau Geste, said the Around the Island Race was very enjoyable despite the seemingly nasty conditions. 

 “We had relatively flat water, which was nice and made for very pleasant sailing. That makes a big difference. We can deal with the high wind speed, but it’s the sea state that is a concern,” Brady said.

Beau Geste beat Fox by just over three minutes in IRC 1 class, which raced in close quarters all the way around the island. A forecast for 16-20 knot winds was spot on and Brady said it was a beat from the start line to the wind farm followed by a reaching leg, a half hour spinnaker run and a beat back to the finish from 1BI. 

“We had to go out around the wind farm, which was really interesting. There are no marks to keep you away from the wind farm so a lot of boats were passing fairly close to the blades,” Brady related. (Note: the air space is 90 feet for the Wind Turbines). “It was a good tactical race with a lot of passing lanes. There was a lot for the navigators and tacticians to consider. Some of these around the island races can be a bit of a follow the leader, but that was not the case today.”

2019BIRW SRC 0265

By Bill Wagner


For some competitors, just getting to the starting line can be the greatest challenge of Block Island Race Week, presented by Margaritaville.

Just ask Timothy Lyons, whose routine boat delivery from Annapolis almost turned disastrous. 

Or Ted Ruegg, whose best-laid plans went astray when the boat he planned to sail never got delivered to the United States. 

In both cases, it took some creativity and ingenuity to rectify the situation, but both skippers managed to make Race 1 on Monday. 

Lyons brought his trimaran Triple Threat to Block Island Race Week XXVIII in 2017 and had no problems. A repeat run last week did not work out so well. Triple Threat sailed up the Chesapeake Bay then motored through the C&D Canal before literally running into a crisis. 

Lyons was sleeping in a forward berth around 4:30 a.m. last Thursday when he was jolted awake by a thunderous collision. It was so loud, so hard and so violent the Annapolis resident was certain his Corsair 43 had crashed into another vessel or possibly rammed a submerged shipping container. 

Lyons scrambled onto deck just in time to see a buoy pop up behind the boat. 



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