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Wind finally play ball at Block Island Race Week

by Barby MacGowan on 26 Jun 2009
Day four start of the Swan 42 class on the red circle - Block Island Race Week Rolex / Dan Nerney

With a four-hour delay on shore today, 1500 sailors got to enjoy some fun and games before heading out for a fourth day of competition at the Storm Trysail Club's Block Island Race Week XXIII presented by Rolex.

For the first time since Monday, when the five-day event started, the damp air rolled itself back by mid-morning and revealed a hint of blue sky, but it had taken the wind in payment. Lauded for precision and wise decisions, the Race Committee issued constant updates while sailors socialized on the docks (at three different marinas within walking distance of each other and accommodating 153 boats) or indulged in wiffle ball and other lawn games best played in bare feet. At the end of the day, two race circles had completed a single race, while a third (with five classes) had tried but failed.

Heidi Benjamin was wearing a 'lucky' Storm Trysail Club bandana on her head yesterday when High Noon, the Tripp 41 she owns with her husband Steve, posted two wins in IRC 40A class, so she wore it again today. As tactician, she made calls heavily dependent on current, and finished second in today's race. 'We have a shot at winning tomorrow if we have two races,' she said, noting only five points between her team (currently in third overall) and Cool Breeze, the Mills 43 skippered by John Cooper (Springfield, MO) that took over first-place today. The Benjamins bought High Noon in early 2000 (it was built in 1994) and have modified it over the years to be a competitive IRC boat. 'It is light-air optimized for Long Island Sound,' she said, adding that it says a lot for the IRC rule that an older boat can be in the hunt at a major race week like this.

In PHRF 1 (one of the classes that did not race today), XLR8, an Evelyn 32, skippered by Brad Porter (Westbrook, Conn.), will start fresh tomorrow on the merit of scores posted yesterday. Pitman Erik Eisensmith (Lyme, Conn.) described Monday's windy around-the-island race, which XLR8 won, as 'absolutely great,' but quickly added that breakdowns on Tuesday were disheartening. 'In one race we were over early, broke our pole and ripped a spinnaker, so we spent the rest of the day getting it all sorted out and our heads back into it. We finished the day upbeat, and yesterday finished 1-2.' There is a two-point spread between XLR8 and second-place Beneteau 34 L'Outrage, owned by Bruce Gardner (Annapolis, Md.).

Mort Weintraub's (Larchmont, N.Y.) Express 37 Troubador has one of the better score lines here, with six victories over the last seven races in IRC 35 class, but Weintraub says he has nothing to do with it. 'I only provide the lunches and the beer and pay the bills,' he laughed. Jamie Anderson (Larchmont), who has been sailing with Weintraub since he was 13 and now works on Wall Street, steers and organizes the crew of 'mostly people who are in New York for their first jobs out of college.'

The two biggest boats in the regatta - the STP65 Rosebud/Team DYT, owned by Roger Sturgeon (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and Vanquish, owned by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) -- are sailing alone in IRC Zero class, but neither team seems to mind too much. 'Rosebud/Team DYT is getting ready for their Europe trip (to compete in the Rolex Fastnet Race in August), so this is good for them,' said Ralf Steitz (Kings Point, N.Y.), who runs the USMMA Sailing Foundation, 'and for us, we can all learn from these guys.' Steitz explained that Rosebud/Team DYT has exhibited extraordinary sportsmanship over seven races, of which only one has Vanquish's winning name on it. 'Two days ago, we snagged the Race Committee boat at the start, and they waited for us to line up again with them so we could begin our race evenly,' said Steitz. 'As well, Roger donated many of Rosebud's older sails to us - that is a wonderful thing.' Steitz explained that the foundation relies on donations, and last December when Jim Swartz donated Vanquish (well-known as Moneypenny at the time), it was a great boon to the offshore sailing program.

The USMMA brought along its own hotel/container in the form of a108' navy yacht patrol boat named Liberator. The midshipmen stand anchor watch each night and navigated the 'small ship' to get here, all as part of their training. With a full galley and rustic but practical accommodations that include 26 bunks, it is home to the 32 midshipmen here who are racing three boats (Vanquish, the J/29 Renegade in PHRF 2 class, and Nimbus, which won both races yesterday and won again today to move from third to second in the Farr 40 one-design class.) 'It's the perfect race support boat. If I had the coin, I would buy this instead of a flash support boat!' said Steitz. As for the sailing experience for the midshipmen, it can't be duplicated. 'I had never even seen a sailboat before I got to the Academy,' said Karen Gilkey, a freshman who works the pit aboard Nimbus. 'I started out sailing a Farr 40 and I had no idea how monumental that was; it's almost unheard of!'

Racing concludes tomorrow with prizes awarded in four IRC classes (33 boats total) taking part in the 2009 US-IRC Gulf Stream Series, five PHRF classes (40 boats), and eight One-Design classes (Beneteau 36.7, NYYC Swan 42, Farr 40, J/122, J/44, Farr 30,J/109, and J/105).


Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race Week XXIII presented by Rolex
Day Four


Beneteau 36.7 (One Design - 6 Boats)
1. Quokka, Beneteau First 36.7, Tom Peelen, So. Dartmouth, MA, USA - 1, 1, 1, 1, 3, 2, ; 9
2. Crossbow, Beneteau First 36.7, Roy Halvorsen, Tenafly, NY, USA - 2, 2, 2, 2, 1, 3, ; 12
3. Whirlwind, Beneteau First 36.7, William Purdy, New York, NY, USA - 4, 4, 3, 4, 2, 1, ; 18

PHRF 1 (PHRF - 10 Boats)
1. XLR8, Evelyn 32, Brad Porter, Westbrook, CT, USA - 1, 5, 2, 3, 1, 2, ; 14
2. L'outrage, Beneteau 34, Bruce Gardner, Annapolis, MD, USA - 2, 2, 3, 4, 2, 3, ; 16
3. Freightrain, Frers 36, Dick Hyde, Belmont, MA, USA - 5, 1, 4, 1, 4, 4, ; 19

PHRF 2 - J-29 (PHRF - 6 Boats)
1. Hustler, J 29, John & Tony Esposito, Mohegan Lake, NY, USA - 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 7
2. Mighty Puffin, J 29, Steve Thurston, Bristol, RI, USA - 2, 3, 4, 4, 2, 2, ; 17
3. Showdown, J 29, Bijan Rasadi, Groton, CT, USA - 3, 4, 2, 3, 3, 3, ; 18

PHRF 3 (PHRF - 9 Boats)
1. Rumor, J 80, John Storck, Jr, Huntington, NY, USA - 1, 2, 2, 5, 3, 2, ; 15
2. Lunatic Fringe, LS-10 / SOCA 33, Robert & Bill Lehnert, Cutchogue, NY, USA - 3, 3, 1, 1, 5, 6, ; 19
3. Incommunicado, Omega 36, Ed Tracey / Tim Polk, Severna Park, MD, USA - 4, 10/DNF, 4, 3, 1, 1, ; 23

PHRF 4 (PHRF - 8 Boats)
1. Boondoggle, Frers 30 29.7, Scott Kirkpatrick, Wellesley, MA, USA - 3, 1, 3, 2, 3, 2, ; 14
2. Loki III, S2-9.1 29.83, Richard Correll, Huntington, NY, USA - 2, 4, 7, 1, 1, 1, ; 16
3. Alohomora, J 24 24', Kyle Fast, Noank, CT, USA - 1, 5, 2, 4, 4, 3, ; 19

Navigator Class (PHRF - 8 Boats)
1. Xenophon, Swan 44, Paul Pakos, Sudbury, MA, USA - 1, 3, 3, 1, ; 8
2. Club Car, S2 7.9, Barry bessette, South Chatham, MA, USA - 2, 2, 2, 4, ; 10
3. Sweet Rocket, Frers 36, Joseph Ney, Portsmouth , RI, USA - 8, 1, 1, 2, ; 12

IRC ZERO (IRC - 2 Boats)
1. Rosebud/Team DYT, STP65, Roger Sturgeon, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA - 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, ; 8
2. Vanquish, STP65, Ralf Steitz, Kings Point, NY, USA - 2, 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, ; 13

IRC 40A (IRC - 11 Boats)
1. Cool Breeze, Mills 43, John Cooper, Springfield, MO, USA - 2, 4, 2, 4, 3, 3, 4, ; 22
2. Act One, King 40, B. Titus / A. Stern / C. Milligan / T. Roche, Newport, RI, USA - 1, 2, 1, 1, 4, 8, 6.5, ; 23.5
3. High Noon , Tripp 41, Steve & Heidi Benjamin , Norwalk , CT, USA - 7, 6, 7, 3, 1, 1, 2, ; 27

IRC 40B (IRC - 10 Boats)
1. Katabatic, IMX 40, Gordon Hall, Marblehead, MA, USA - 3, 1, 3, 8, 2, 3, 2, ; 22
2. Mullet, Beneteau First 40.7, Kris & Kiki Werner, Rochester, NY, USA - 1, 4, 2, 2, 7, 4, 3, ; 23
3. Avalanche, Farr 395, Craig Albrech

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