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Ida Lewis Distance Race - Sailors prepare for 9th edition

by Barby MacGowan on 5 Feb 2013
Ida Lewis Distance Race 2012 Meghan Sepe
The ninth edition of the Ida Lewis Distance Race challenges sailors of all ages and experience levels to attempt offshore racing by competing in the popular overnighter that starts and finishes at Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport, R.I. Scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Friday, August 16, 2013, the race is open to IRC, PHRF, One Design, Double-Handed and Multihull boats and features four coastal courses--between 104nm and 177nm—that incorporate such scenic waypoints as Castle Hill, Brenton Reef, Block Island, Montauk Point, Martha’s Vineyard and Buzzards Bay.

Bringing a fresh perspective to the August tradition is newly appointed Race Chairman Simon Davidson (Newport, R.I.) who co-founded the inaugural event in 2004.

'We started with the intention of having a biennial event,' said Davidson, 'but by our second running in 2006 it was clear that we had the enthusiasm from grand prix racers as well as double-handed and cruising sailors to make this event happen annually. It now is an August tradition, perfectly timed for the end of summer when activity on Narragansett Bay has quieted down somewhat.'

Davidson added that his committee’s goals this year are to expand the race’s reach to surrounding areas and 'encourage more sailors to try offshore racing in some of the most beautiful and storied cruising grounds in the country, if not the world.' To that end, the event’s Youth Challenge, added in 2010, will be more heavily promoted to New England area yacht clubs, and an emphasis will be given to the Collegiate Challenge that was inaugurated last year at the 2012 event.

'There are sailors who have sat on a couch to eagerly watch the Volvo Ocean Race, but they’ve rarely, if ever, had the chance to actually compete in a distance race,' said Davidson. 'With the Ida Lewis Distance Race, the opportunity is unique for trying offshore racing. It’s a medium-distance offshore commitment that requires a minimal amount of logistics, since the race is not point-to-point but rather begins and ends in the same place. It’s the chance for an owner to take his or her around-the-buoys crew on a new adventure or to integrate youth or college sailors into the team for a different kind of rewarding experience. Then, of course, for veteran big-boat crews, the race is ideal for practice and training before they move on to other distance races around the world. Rambler, Bella Mente and Decision are just a few of the high-profile teams that have competed here in the past.'

The 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.

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.

For the second year, the Ida Lewis Distance Race is incorporating a Collegiate Challenge for the William Tuthill Trophy. The Trophy honors Tuthill, an avid sailor and member of the SUNY Maritime College, class of 1973, who 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.

To qualify for the Collegiate Challenge, 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.

For more information and to register, visit Ida Lewis Distance Race
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