Newport Sailing Season’s Grand Finale, the fan-favorite Ida Lewis Distance Race, gets underway on August 16th. In its ninth edition, this popular overnight competition takes sailors on one of four coastal courses – between 104nm and 177nm – that incorporate some of New England’s most picturesque coastlines. The race, which is open to IRC, PHRF, One Design, Double-Handed and Multihull boats, also offers special trophies for College and Youth teams and this year has already attracted several newcomers to the fleet.
Kevin McNeil in his Farr 40 Nightshift at the Farr 40 North American Championship last year in Newport - Ida Lewis Distance Race 2013
'Newport is like Disney World for sailors,' said Kevin McNeil (Annapolis, Md.), who will compete in the Ida race for his first time, helming his Farr 40 Nightshift. 'I’ve been coming to Newport since the 1970s, and it is always a good time with lots of great events. We do mostly buoy racing, so the Ida Lewis Distance Race will be one of our only offshore races this year.' McNeil won’t be missing any of the sailing attractions Newport has to offer, including the Farr 40 Worlds, which starts 10 days after the Ida Lewis Distance Race. He will sail Nightshift in that event and his Farr 30 Sea Biscuit in other one-design championships in Newport and New England this summer.
Ida Lewis Distance Race 2012 winner, Marc Glimcher with his Ker 40 Catapult
McNeil has not decided if he will sail IRC or PHRF, but last year’s winner in IRC, Mark Glimcher (New York, N.Y.), who has signed up again, would be a formidable match-up in his Ker 40 Catapult.
'I have done the Ida Lewis Distance Race twice now, once on a TP52 and once on Catapult,' said Catapult’s tactician Geoff Ewenson (Annapolis, Md.), who grew up in Newport. 'It is a great event, because it is long enough to be an overnight challenge but it is not so long that it ever feels like the race is dragging on. There are always turns coming up, and the legs are short enough to keep the entire crew on their toes. Last year we felt that we had the best weapon on the water—a new fast boat with a good team allowed us to sail conservatively and just play to our strengths.'
The R/P 44 Miracle, skippered by Michael Cashel (Hingham, Mass.), and the J/109 Ursa, skippered by Brooke Mastrorio (Lakeville, Mass.), are other new entries signed up for the Ida Lewis Distance Race 2013 in IRC and PHRF, respectively.
Last year, 18-year-old Marisa DeCollibus got her first taste of offshore sailing aboard the Class 40 Toothface, which was a Youth Challenge entry skippered by Ken Luczynski (Newport, R.I.) in PHRF Class. 'Ken gave all three of us a massive amount of big boat experience, and I couldn’t have imagined a better situation,' said DeCollibus. 'We all worked hard the entire time, and I have a new love for grinding and offshore sailing in general.'
To qualify for the Youth Challenge, more than 40% of the crew must have reached their 14th birthday but not turn 20 prior to August 16, 2013. Teams may have junior crew members outside of those parameters; however, they will not count towards the youth component. Teams are encouraged to register under the burgee of a US SAILING yacht club or community sailing program. All youth sailors will be required to attend a brief informational meeting the evening before the race (participants of all ages welcome) and will be strongly encouraged to attend the Storm Trysail Junior Safety at Sea Seminar, which will be held in Newport, R.I. in August.
The Ida Lewis Distance Race is also enticing college teams to join the fun with the Collegiate Challenge, inaugurated last year. To qualify, more than 40% of the crew must not have reached the age of 26 by August 16, 2013. Teams are encouraged to register under the burgee of a college sailing program, a US SAILING yacht club or community sailing program. The Challenge is for the William Tuthill Trophy, which honors Tuthill, an avid sailor and member of the SUNY Maritime College, class of 1973. Tuthill met with accidental death at sea on the school’s summer cruise in 1972. SUNY Maritime College reinstated the trophy, which was last presented in 1978 to the winner of the Eastern Inter-Collegiate Overnight Race, at the Ida Lewis Distance Race 2012, where Massachusetts Maritime Academy (on Crazy Horse) beat out SUNY (on American Girl) to win.
The Ida Lewis Distance Race is also a qualifier for the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF); the Northern and Double-Handed Ocean Racing Trophies (IRC); and the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series.
For more information and to register, visit the Ida Lewis Distance Race website.