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Ida Lewis Distance Race celebrates 10th anniversary this summer

by Kirsten Ferguson on 27 Mar 2014
Chris Culver’s Swan 42 Blazer, which won the IRC class at last year’s Ida Lewis Distance Race, sails by Castle Hill in Newport, R.I. Meghan Sepe
The Ida Lewis Distance Race will celebrate its tenth anniversary this summer doing what it does best: presenting sailors with an exciting overnight offshore experience that covers hallowed sailing ground and is just the right length—not too short, not too long – for all types of competitors.

On Friday, August 15th, the race will start off Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport, R.I. and take its fleet of IRC, PHRF, One Design, Double-Handed and Multihull boats on coastal courses chosen from four options with distances between 104 and 177 nautical miles. Among the iconic way points of the race are Castle Hill, Brenton Reef, Block Island, Montauk Point, Martha’s Vineyard and Buzzards Bay.


'Over the course of a weekend, you can race against a number of spectacular sailors and experience a variety of weather conditions on a beautiful and challenging offshore race that starts and finishes in Newport,' said Chris Culver (Rowayton, Conn.) who took home the Commodore’s Trophy last year for best corrected time in IRC with his Swan 42 Blazer. 'What more can you ask for?'

This summer, the competition will be super-stacked for Culver, since the Swan 42 Class has designated the race as part of its 2014 Offshore Championship Series.

'I think we’ll see a number of Swan 42s participate,' said Culver. 'The Class doesn’t get to race offshore together very often, so we are definitely looking forward to it.'

Like Culver, who will count this summer as his fourth to compete in the Ida Lewis Distance Race, Tristan Mouligne (Newport, R.I.) is also a race veteran, marking this year as his fifth consecutive time competing aboard his Quest 30 Samba.


'In 2011, our team won the Lime Rock Trophy for first place in PHRF, and I really want to get my hands on it again this year,' said Mouligne, adding that the 'Ida' is the only offshore event where he sails with a full crew. For other ocean races, Mouligne races double-handed or solo, and this year his schedule includes the Newport Bermuda Race on the Class 40 Dragon as well as the Offshore 160, the New England Solo/Twin Race and the Greenport Ocean Race.

'I love everything about the Ida Lewis Distance Race,' added Mouligne. 'The competition in our class is always solid, and it is the perfect distance for getting good friends together to spend a night offshore racing around Rhode Island Sound.'

For that very reason, the race, with its Youth and Collegiate Challenges, has encouraged a new generation of sailors who want to try their hand at distance racing.

'If it wasn’t for the support of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club I probably wouldn’t have made the transition to big boat sailing at all,' said 15-year-old George Moss (New York, N.Y.) who was one of 17 junior sailors to compete in the race last year.


'During the spring and summer I usually race 420s, but last year I was also part of Ida Lewis Yacht Club’s Big Boat Program, which opened me up to a whole different type of racing. From there I went on to compete in the Ida Lewis Distance Race aboard the Class 40 Icarus Racing, which served as Ida Lewis Yacht Club’s Youth Challenge entry,' said Moss, who plans to compete again this year 'I’m really excited for this summer and hope that in future years there will be more events that encourage younger sailors to try out offshore racing.'

Last year, the New York Yacht Club and the Oakcliff Sailing Center also fielded teams for the Ida Lewis Distance Race Youth Challenge.



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 15, 2014, encourages teams to register under the burgee of a US Sailing yacht club or community sailing program. The Collegiate Challenge similarly requires that more than 40% of the crew must not have reached the age of 26 by August 15, 2014 and encourages registering under the burgee of a college sailing program, a US Sailing yacht club or community sailing program.

Last year, Massachusetts Maritime Academy not only took line honors with its Andrews 70 Shindig but also was presented with the William Tuthill Trophy for winning the Collegiate Challenge. 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 in 2012.

The race’s signature champagne finish is between Ida Lewis Yacht Club and the southern tip of Goat Island. After the race, on Saturday August 16th, competitors are invited to enjoy the Awards Ceremony and dinner with their family and friends on the deck of Ida Lewis Yacht Club.

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.

For more information or to register, visit website or contact Race Chair Simon Davidson, RaceChairman@ILDistanceRace.org.

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