Block Island Race Week Day 1 Recap
Bill Sweetser sported a broad smile as he stood in the stern of his boat that is berthed at Champlin’s Marina.
Sweetser could not have scripted a better start to Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race Week, presented by Margaritaville. Monday’s wind conditions fell into the sweet spot of the Annapolis entry and the crew responded with a superb performance.
Sweetser steered Rush to victory in all three races on the opening day of the regatta, taking early command of the J/109 class. Tactician Tom Babel made all the right calls while trimmers Brian Tyrrell (headsails), Mike Hobson (mainsail) and Bobby Brooks (offside) were on point.
“Sometimes you sail in conditions you feel very comfortable with and today certainly favored our boat and crew,” Sweetser said of the westerly winds that held relatively steady between 8 to 10 knots. “We just tend to do really well in light to moderate winds within the J/109 fleet. I know I drive better in those conditions.”
Wings accomplished the same feat in J/88 class with skipper Mike Bruno leading the Armonk, New York entry to straight bullets. Stuart Johnstone is calling tactics aboard Wings, which is coming off a class victory at Sperry Charleston Race Week.
In the third one-design class, New York City residents John and Marisa Koten led Gray Matter to solid score line of 3-3-2 to set the pace in J/105, which has attracted 16 entries.
Racing was extremely close in the ORC 1 and 2 with mere seconds separating the first and second places finishes in both Race 1 and 2 after more than an hour sailing around the buoys. Jim Grundy and his crew aboard Baby Bella hold a one-point lead in ORC 1 after beating Interlodge IV by one second in the second start.
“Isn’t that great? It shows the designers of the rating rule has done an outstanding job,” Grundy said. “We’re having extremely close racing among boats that are rated very fairly.”
It's 5'O Clock at Block Island Race Week
Standing inside the giant tent that serves as party central for Block Island Race Week, Tamara Baldanza-Dekker surveyed the beautiful panoramic view of New Harbor that looks like a postcard.
“If this doesn’t scream Margaritaville, I don’t know what does,” she declared.
Baldanza-Dekker serves as Chief Marketing Officer for Margaritaville, a global lifestyle brand inspired by the lyrics and philosophies of singer, songwriter and best-selling author Jimmy Buffett.
Margaritaville has come aboard as the inaugural presenting partner for Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race Week. Participating sailors attending the nightly awards parties will find the big top has been transformed into Margaritaville on every level.
A must stop is the Margarita Bar, which is serving the brand’s signature Who’s to Blame margaritas using Margaritaville tequila. Also available is Land Shark Lager, another Margaritaville licensed product.
“Margaritaville is really about a state of mind. It speaks to fun and escapism, which is something sailors surely understand,” Baldanza-Dekker said. “We’re honored to be part of this iconic tradition that is Block Island Race Week. This is definitely our demographic and a partnership that makes perfect sense for our brand.”
Longtime Storm Trysail Club member Andrew Weiss was driving to Alabama listening to a National Public Radio broadcast about retirement living and the Margaritaville brand was mentioned.
“I’ve always been a huge Jimmy Buffett fan and love the whole message his music presents,” said Weiss, co-founder of Flintlock Construction Services in New York City.
Block Island Race Week Preview
All the docks of the three marinas of New Harbor were alive with activity on Sunday in anticipation of Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race Week, presented by Margaritaville.
At Payne’s Dock, the professional crews with the TP 52 programs Fox and Gladiator were sorting sails, tuning rigs and testing equipment.
Dozens of Midshipmen with the Naval Academy varsity offshore sailing team were shuttling back-and-forth between the trailer and their two Farr 40-footers.
There was similar work being done at the New Harbor Boat Basin and Champlin’s Marina as the 122 boats in 13 classes attended to last-minute details in advance of racing, which begins Monday on Block Island Sound.
Many of those boats participated in a practice race put together Sunday by organizers with host Storm Trysail Club. It was a great day for a shakedown with southwesterly winds of 18-20 knots providing robust conditions.
Competitors can look forward to more of the same for most of the week with on-water chairman Dick Neville noting that early forecasts looking quite favorable. “We should have good breeze every day and no fog,” Neville said.
A lay day has been built into the 2019 edition of Block Island Race Week and Neville said Wednesday is the best current candidate based off advance weather models. Storm Trysail Club will choose the day that is predicted to have the lightest wind.
Navy has entered Ranger and Zephyr in PHRF 1, which features 16 boats of various designs. Those two Farr 40s placed first and second in ORC 1A during the recent Annapolis-to-Newport Race, instilling some confidence in both crews.
“It proved we can work together as a team to achieve a goal,” said Hayden Kuzemchak, skipper of Ranger.
After training for months to complete a 475-nautical mile offshore passage, the Navy sailors must now switch gears to doing multiple round-the-buoy races each day. They will be looking to improve upon their results at the 165th New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta when Ranger and Zephyr finished sixth and seventh in IRC 3.
“It takes a different skill set and a different mindset,” Kuzemchak admitted. “It’s a challenge choreographing sails up and sails down because you’re dealing with shorter legs and faster tempo.”
The 1BI: The Digital Block Island Race Week Times - Sunday
- Welcome from the Commodore
- Preview of the Week Ahead
- Advice from Race Veterans on how to survive Race Week
- Linc and the Entourage