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Ida Lewis Distance Race - New England sailing classic begins

by Kirsten Ferguson on 16 Aug 2013
2013 Ida Lewis Distance Race ILYC
Rush hour on Narragansett Bay will arrive early tomorrow, August 16th, when 29 IRC, PHRF and Double-Handed boats head for the starting line of the Ida Lewis Distance Race.

The popular overnighter has a spectator-friendly start planned for 12:30 off Fort Adams, and with wind predictions of between five and 10 knots, organizers will have decided in the morning which of four courses— Montauk (177 nm), Block Island (150 nm), Nomans (122 nm) or Buzzards Bay Tower (104 nm)—the event’s four classes (IRC, PHRF, PHRF Double-Handed and PHRF Cruising Spinnaker) will sail.

Three of last year’s class winners will be returning to defend their titles again, including, Hendrikus Wisker (Round Hill, Va.) in PHRF Cruising Spinnaker with his Nautor Swan 55 Haerlem, Todd Stuart (Newport, R.I.) in PHRF with his Swan 56 White Rhino and Marc Glimcher (New York, N.Y.) in IRC with his Ker 40 Catapult.

'Catapult is a very well sailed boat and it will be a speed race against them,' said Christopher Culver (Weston, Conn.) who took third place in IRC last year with his Swan 42 Blazer and has returned to take on Catapult as well as five additional teams in the class this year. 'We love offshore sailing, and because of our experience with it I think our strength this year will be the ability to press hard during the night hours.'

Culver explained that his team has done six Newport Bermuda races and set the monohull record at the 2012 Greenport Ocean Race. 'It can get tough out there as far as driving and keeping focus,' said Culver, 'and when it’s dark and you don’t have a lot to work with for reference points, it can be easy for some teams to lose their way a bit. We hope to use this time period as an opportunity to catch a team that may have caught a better shift than us earlier on.'

This is Culver’s third time competing in the Ida Lewis Distance Race, which is in its ninth edition. 'It is perfect because it can be finished typically in 24 hours or less, making it a great opportunity to bring people with no offshore experience onboard and have them be comfortable without going through the process of a 300- or 400-mile distance race,' said Culver.


For that very reason, the event is welcoming back both the Youth and Collegiate Challenges, which give a new generation of sailors the opportunity to try offshore sailing on for size. For the first time ever, event host Ida Lewis Yacht Club is fielding its own Youth Challenge entry aboard the Class 40 Icarus Racing.

'We’re trying to be competitive and I would love to win both the Youth Challenge and our class if possible,' said 16-year-old Trevor Davidson (Newport, R.I.) who will join three other junior sailors (George Moss, Sarah Kelleher and Noah Kelleher) and two adults (Regatta Chair Simon Davidson and ILYC member Tim Fetsch) aboard Icarus Racing. 'Sailing in big boats offshore is very different than dinghy sailing, both mentally and physically. I think the biggest thing that you learn during a race like this is that you need to be good at communicating.'

The Youth Challenge, which requires that more than 40% of the crew must have reached their 14th birthday but not turned 20 prior to August 16, 2013, encourages teams to register under the burgee of a US Sailing yacht club or community sailing program and this year also will welcome the New York Yacht Club’s Tripp 43 Settler and Oakcliff Sailing Center’s Farr 47 entry Oakcliff.

The Collegiate Challenge similarly requires that more than 40% of the crew must not have reached the age of 26 by August 16. This year, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the 2012 Collegiate Challenge winner, returns to defend its winning of the William Tuthill Trophy onboard the 50-foot Baltic Crazy Horse. (Collegiate Challenge teams are encouraged to register under the burgee of a college sailing program, a US Sailing yacht club or community sailing program.)

The race’s signature champagne finish is between Ida Lewis Yacht Club and the southern tip of Goat Island.

The Ida Lewis Distance Race is 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.

Starting Line sponsors for the 2013 Ida Lewis Distance Race are Bluewater Technologies, Inc., the City of Newport, New England Boatworks, Newport Shipyard, North Sails, and Marsh. Contributing sponsors are Dockwise Yacht Transport, Flint Audio Video, Mac Designs, Sea Gear Uniforms, Stella Artois, Gosling’s Bermuda Black Rum, Rig Pro Southern Spars and Z Blok.

For more information and to register, visit IL Distance Race

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