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Block Island Race - Great holiday sailing in 67th edition

by Kirsten Ferguson on 30 May 2012
(from left) Storm Trysail Club Commodore Eric Kreuter and IRC overall winner Larry Dickey (Greenwich, Conn.) Marcy Trenholm/Storm Trysail Club
For the 67th year, the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race, which started on Friday, May 25 at 1400, was a good excuse for sailors to start the long Memorial Day weekend early and no team was more pleased with how their holiday sailing went than Larry Dickie’s (Greenwich, Conn.) aboard the Kerr 43 Ptarmigan, which won its class and took overall honors in IRC after making the traditional 186 nautical mile voyage from Stamford, Conn. (where host Stamford Yacht Club is located) to Block Island Sound, around Block Island, and back.

A total of 84 boats participated, with nine classes (seven IRC and two PHRF) sailing the traditional long course while a third PHRF class tried out this year’s new 'all inside' Plum Island Course (126 nm) option.

'The first two-thirds of the race was medium air so it provided good fair sailing for everyone,' said Dickie, adding that his team’s big break came on the way back into Long Island Sound when they began to match race two Ker 50s, Arthur Santry’s (Arlington, Va.) Temptation–Oakcliff and Larry Huntington’s (New York, N.Y.) Snow Lion. 'We had sent a guy up the mast looking for wind bands,' explained Dickey.

'We saw the Ker 50s near shore and figured since they were in our (IRC 50) class we needed to at least go cover them. Little did we know they were leading at the time. Even though we are a newer design, they are faster in a lot of conditions, so we had to make up our difference with smart sailing.' (Temptation–Oakcliff and Snow Lion ultimately finished second and third in class, respectively.)

For Ron O’Hanley’s team, which won IRC 0 class aboard O’Hanley’s Cookson 50 Privateer, it was all about calling the breeze, which he described as 'higher than expected but incredibly variable within even short distances.' While typically this race is won or lost on making the correct call on exiting or entering Long Island Sound through either Plum Gut or 'The Race' or even Fishers Island Sound, this was not so much the case this year.

'We kept extremely close to shore to minimize current on the way out (through the The Race),' said O’Hanley. 'Coming back (through Plum Gut), the current was on the nose but just changing, so we really never had to worry about it.'

The team did 'park up twice' because of no breeze and watched the King’s Point entry Conviction, an IRC 52, catch them from five miles behind. 'They very smartly sailed very close to the Long Island shore until almost abreast of us,' said O’Hanley, 'but the three-quarters of a mile (lateral) distance between us was enough for us to get started up quicker when a new breeze came. It was a nice win, especially since it was fairly miserable fog-wise, so it’s nice to do well when you have to endure those conditions.'

George David’s 90-footer Rambler was the first boat to finish, a bit after 1330 on Saturday, and the last boat finished at 1715 on Sunday. Dickie, in addition to claiming the William Tripp Jr. Memorial Trophy for best corrected time in IRC Fleet, also claimed the Harvey Conover Memorial Overall Trophy, awarded to the boat that has won her class and, in the judgment of the Flag Officers and Race Committee, had the best overall performance. In PHRF, the Beneteau First 36.7 Shooting Star, skippered by Steve Cain (Larchmont, N.Y.), won the Terrapin Trophy for best corrected time.

The Block Island Race was first held in 1946 and is a qualifier for the North Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF), and the Gulf Stream Series (IRC). The Block Island Race is also a qualifier for the Caper, Sagola, and Windigo trophies awarded by the YRA of Long Island Sound and the ‘Tuna' Trophy for the best combined IRC scores in the Edlu and the Block Island Race.

For more information on the Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race or the Plum Island Course (Notice of Race Amendment number 1), visit the website or contact The Storm Trysail Club (914) 834-8857.

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