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Ida Lewis Distance Race - Entry deadline fast approaching

by Kirsten Ferguson on 31 Jul 2014
The IRC Class start at the 2013 Ida Lewis Distance Race Meghan Sepe
Next month, the Ida Lewis Distance Race will celebrate a decade of offshore fun with its 10th edition of the popular overnighter that starts and finishes in Newport, R.I. At 12:30 p.m. on Friday, August 15, PHRF, IRC, One-Design, Doublehanded and Multihull boats will start off Fort Adams to embark on one of four coastal courses – between 104nm and 177nm, depending on weather and final classes – that follow New England’s alluring coastline and incorporate iconic landmarks such as Block Island, Montauk Point and Martha’s Vineyard.

(To receive $50 off registration, competitors are encouraged to sign up by the early entry deadline of Friday, August 1.)

'I’ve done a lot of distance racing, but nothing that compares to the Ida Lewis Distance Race,' said Brendan Brownyard (Bay Shore, N.Y.) who will be racing in IRC with his Swan 42 Barleycorn. 'The racecourse takes advantage of the beautiful waters of Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound. It is also the perfect distance, and you know you’ll be finishing at a reasonable time the next day.'

Brownyard marks this as his second time competing in the event (in 2012, Barleycorn took second place in IRC, behind Mark Glimcher’s Ker 40 Catapult). 'This season our team has been doing a lot more buoy-to-buoy racing, so we are especially excited to do some offshore racing. There are going to be other very competitive Swan 42s out on the water this year, so we look forward to some fierce competition.'

Barleycorn also will have contend with IRC class favorite Steve and Heidi Benjamin’s (Norwalk, Conn.) Carkeek 40 Spookie and Paul Milo’s (Leesburg, Va.) J/122 Orion, which is just off the 635-mile Newport to Bermuda Race where it led the pack for J/122s and took second place in the St. David's Lighthouse Division.

A multihull class will make its debut with at least five trimarans racing. 'This is a very established group of competitors,' said Steven Parks (Middletown, R.I.), who will be racing his F27 Flying Fish for the event. Parks added that all of the current class entries are part of the New England Multihull Association and do a combination of buoy-to-buoy and distance racing up and down the northeast coast. 'There are a core group of us that really love offshore racing on these boats. Because of that, and the fact that the race is hosted from the prime summer sailing destination of Newport, we knew it would be a good fit for our class.'

Parks added that if the conditions are conducive, there is a possibility that a trimaran could take line honors and even establish a record for fastest time logged in the distance race. 'These boats sail very fast and shine downwind and in reaching conditions. If the breeze is gusting to 20 knots, most of the trimarans will have a speed of 20 knots.'

The Ida Lewis Distance Race supports bridging the dinghy-to-big-boat gap for the next generation of sailors with its Youth and Collegiate Challenges. Last year, Arthur Santry’s (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) Farr 47 Oakcliff won the Youth Challenge with a team of sailors comprised of Oakcliff Sailing Center’s 'Acorns' (ages 15-18) and 'Saplings' (18-27), and this year Santry will be back to defend with a new crop of youngsters.

'After these kids go through the Oakcliff program they’ve got a sense of accomplishment, because they know how to work in teams and how to lead,' said Santry who charters the boat every year and sponsors the youth sailors that compete with him each season. What he likes most about the program, he says, is its intent to not only create great sailors but also help students with career development and advancement. 'They learn a lot of things that are transferrable to business skills.'

To qualify for the Youth Challenge, more than 40% of the crew must have reached their 14th birthday but not turned 20 prior to August 15. To qualify for the Collegiate Challenge, more than 40% of the crew must not have reached the age of 26 prior to August 15. For both challenges, teams are encouraged to register under the burgee of a college sailing program or a US Sailingyacht club or community sailing program.

Youth Challenge teams are encouraged to participate in the Storm Trysail Club and Foundation’s Newport Junior Safety at Sea Seminar on Thursday, August 14 at Fort Adams. This is a one-day experience aimed at introducing young sailors to the arts and sciences of sailing on a big boat safely while learning some of the related skills. (Participants of all ages welcome.)

'It is no secret that we need to develop more young sailors for the big boat/offshore racing portion of this wonderful thing we call sailboat racing,' said Joe Cooper, an Ida Lewis Distance Race Committee member who is organizing the event. 'The seminar followed immediately by first-hand participation in the Ida Lewis Distance Race are ideal opportunities for accomplishing this.' (To register, go to or email, 401-965-6006.)

The Ida Lewis Distance Race has been certified at the silver level for Sailors of the Sea’s Clean Regattas program. The certification system helps sailing events create and manage environmentally responsible events in an effort to educate and motivate boaters to reduce marine debris and preserve the waters upon which they sail.

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, click here or contact Race Chair Simon Davidson,

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