by J Boats
For a number of sailors in northeastern America and their friends from around the world, Block Island Race Week is the pinnacle event of the sailing summer. Hosted by the Storm Trysail Club with professional, well-managed race committee's, sailors can count on fantastic racing for five straight days of sailing from June 24th to 28th.
Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week
Included in the schedule is another one of those fabulous 'round island' races, the 25nm Around Block Island Race sailed mid-week. While many enjoy the sailing, it's not unusual for many of the thousand-plus sailors to enjoy the renown 'Block Party' that goes all week long, fueled by Mt Gay's famous rum and, equally as famous, The Oar Restaurant & Bar's famous 'mudslides'.
This year the sailing teams are looking forward to one of the largest fleets to assemble in years, with 183 boats registered to sail, J/Boats having by far the largest brand presence in the regatta with 80 boats participating (44% of the fleet!). Six J one-design classes are sailing, including the J/111s, the J/80 North American's and East Coast Championships for the J/109, J/105s, J/44s and J/29s. J/Teams are also sailing in the IRC and PHRF handicap divisions.
The J one-design teams are loaded with excellent sailing talent. With eight boats, the fabulous turnout for the J/44s include several past J/44 North American and Block Island champions, including Jim Bishop's Gold Digger, Jeff Willis's Challenge IV, Bill Ketcham's Maxine and Norm Schulman's Charlie V.
The J/111 class have a strong fleet of five boats, all of whom have won various handicap and one-design events over the past two years, including Andiamo (Paul Strauch), Bravo (Sedgwick Ward), Partnership (David and Maryellen Tortorello who are reigning STC BI Week J/111 champions), Wicked 2.0 (Doug Curtiss who's reigning BI Week 2012 champion) and class newcomer Eagles Dare (Mike Piper from Marblehead, MA).
The fifteen boat J/109 class are hosting their East Coast Championships and all recent North American champions are participating, including Bill Sweetser's Rush, Rick Lyall's STORM and Ted Herlihy's GUT Feeling. Other teams that may factor into the hunt for some silverware include Caminos(Don Fillippelli), Nordlys (Bob Schwartz), PAX 3 (Bob Siegel) and Skoot (Jim Vos).
With fourteen boats, the J/105s have a combination of veteran teams as well as some new faces in the crowd. Amongst the veterans with North American, East Coast and regional series championships silverware are Eclipse (Damian Emery who's reigning STC Block Island Race Week champion), Lou Lou (Bruce Stone), Jaded (Peter Rugg), Planet Claire (John and Marisa Koten), Tonto (Fred Darlington) and Two Feathers (Mark and Jolene Masur).
With their North American Championship on the line, the J/80's sixteen boats are also the largest J one-design class participating. There are several top teams sailing with North American, Sailing World Nood, Key West and East Coast champion credentials amongst them, including R80 (Will and Marie Crump fresh off a Nood and New York YC Annual Regatta wins), Rumour (John Storck, Jr and family), Clarke McKinnney, Bert Carp, Church Key (Chris and Liz Chadwick), FKA (Les Beckwith) and Courageous (Gary Panariello).
Enjoying a bit of a renaissance are the J/29s with six boats attending this year's event. The two principal rivals with North American and Key West Race Week titles in their past will be at it again with Hustler (John and Tony Esposito) and Mighty Puffin (Steve Thurston) dueling for class supremacy. However, don't count out Dirty Harry (Jack McGuire) and Seefest (Ira Perry who has won Charleston Race Week in PHRF class).
Sailing IRC 3 are four J/122s, Dolphin (Neil McMillan sailing for the US Naval Academy Sailing Squadron), ORION (Paul Milo), Tumbleweed (George and Carole Shaw) and Wings (Barry Lewis from St Francis YC). Also sailing are Andrew and Linda Weiss on their J/130 Christopher Dragon VIII. In IRC 4 are two J/120s, Rebecca (Glenn Gault) and Varekai (Peter Hein).
In PHRF world, sailing the PHRF 2 class are the J/100 5 Cent (Nickel van Reesema), the J/109 Zuma (Macrae and Chronert Sykes) and the J/35 Seraphim (David Saurette). In PHRF 4 is the J/95 Grin (Richard Eytel). Sailing PHRF Cruising is the J/24 Island Spirit (Bob Closter from Block Island). In PHRF Double-handed class are the J/90 Blackwing (Chris Dowling) and the J/100 Flashpoint (Adrian Little).
Block Island Race Week website