Lay Day. Fun Day.
That was pretty much the theme as host Storm Trysail Club called a mid-week break to Block Island Race Week, presented by Margaritaville.
Organizers with Storm Trysail Club re-introduced the lay day following a lengthy hiatus in response to participants, who wanted one day to enjoy all Block Island has to offer. It really wasn’t that dramatic a change as lack of wind has routinely produced an unintended lay day many times in the past.
Indeed, that wound up being the case on Wednesday as the three one-design classes – J/88, J/105 and J/109 – had requested to race instead of observing the lay day. However, becalmed conditions led to a morning postponement, which turned into an abandonment when the afternoon sea breeze did not fill in sufficiently.
Not to worry, Storm Trysail Club and its many supporting partners had plenty of fun activities lined up for the sailors. Things got off to a rousing start with 95 runners competing in the inaugural Lowell North Memorial 5K, organized and sponsored by North Sails.
A start-finish line was set in front of the North Sails temporary loft on Ocean Avenue and the course took runners along Beach Avenue to Center Road up to the Block Island State Airport. They turned around and headed down to West Side Road – turning right and going past The Oar and regatta headquarters at the Narragansett Inn before finishing.
Ben Quatromoni, pitman aboard Interlodge IV, was the overall winner with a superb time of 19 minutes, 55 seconds. Quatromoni got out to a fast start and left his lone competitor behind during the long uphill climb along Ocean and Beach avenues. The Newport, Rhode Island resident was one of three Interlodge IV entrants along with headsail trimmer Dave Armitage and navigator Geoff Ewenson.
“Very impressive. I didn’t realize Ben was such a strong runner,” Armitage said of his crew mate’s effort.
Quatromoni said he jogs regularly to stay in shape, but does not consider himself a runner. “Sailors tend to be bikers,” he quipped.
Maggie Hannis of Basking Ridge, New Jersey was the first female finisher, crossing in the top third of the pack with an impressive time. Hannis, a 16-year-old at Ridge High, ran cross country in middle school and is now very much immersed in competitive swimming.
Hannis is working the bow aboard Meddler, a J/29 owned by Basking Ridge resident Peter Hilgendorff. She has developed tremendous anaerobic ability and stamina as a distance swimmer specializing in the 400 individual medley and 1,000 freestyle with the Somerset Hills YMCA program.
Braden Porter was the first youth finisher and beat a surprising number of adults. The 12-year-old native of Westbrook, Connecticut attends the Williams School and plays soccer, lacrosse and baseball. This was the fourth 5K for Porter, whom his father described as “very athletic, very fit.”
Brad Porter is skipper of the J/88 XLR8, which currently stands second in PHRF 2 class behind the Farr 30 Seabiscuit. “I pretty much ran hard the whole way,” Braden Porter said when asked his strategy for the 5K.
Nina Prime, headsail trimmer aboard the J/29 Rift, finished toward the back of the pack and sported a broad smile as she crossed the line to hearty cheers. Moments later, Prime was spotted drinking a mimosa and did not hesitate when asked if that is how she usually caps off a workout. “I go to the gym at night then I run to the bar,” she said with a laugh.
Josh Colwell, skipper of the Corsair F-31R OrgaZmatron, was the final finisher – jokingly acting like he was suffering a heart attack after crossing the line. Colwell was seven minutes late for the start after being goaded into doing the run by crewmates, but still finished last on corrected time.
“I walked for a large majority of the course,” admitted Colwell, a King George, Virginia resident.
Veteran North Sails professional Chuck Allen called out the bib numbers of finishers while also providing some funny commentary over a bullhorn. Lorraine McKenna, North American marketing manager for North Sails, recorded the finishes and compiled the results with awards being presented at the tent party to the top three men’s, women’s and youth place-winners.
The inaugural Lowell North Memorial 5K was the first part of the Storm Trysail Club Try-athlon, which also included the Margaritaville Trivia Contest and New England Ropes Tug of War. Regatta chairman Ed Cesare served as master of ceremonies for the Trivia Contest & Official for the Tug of War, which attracted 11 teams.
Team Apparition got off to a good start by coming up with the name of the man for whom Block Island was named. It was Adriaen Block, a Dutch private trader, privateer and ship’s captain who charted the island off the coast of Rhode Island during a 1614 expedition.
A team that will remain anonymous made a big whiff by incorrectly answering the multiple-choice question asking the name of Jimmy Buffett’s backup band. The Coral Reefer Band has been with Buffett since 1974 and has become synonymous with the famed musician.
Other questions included the year North Sails was founded (1957), the oldest hotel on Block Island (Spring House) and where LandShark Lager is brewed (Jacksonville, Florida).
Ultimately, a team named “Risk-it for the Biscuit” wound up as the winner of the trivia contest after nailing a bonus question worth four points and a “lightning” round question worth five points. This group of young crew members from Oakcliff-Temptation came closest to naming the exact time of Comanche’s record-breaking run in Storm Trysail Club’s 186-nautical mile Block Island Race then also correctly answered the date Storm Trysail Club was founded (1936).
Closing out the day’s festivities was the New England Ropes Tug of War contest held just prior to the opening of the daily tent party. In an elimination bracket, teams of 5 dug their feet into the send to best each other while crowds waded in the Great Salt Pond.
Brandon Flack and his team Old School, who are are also sailing on their Melges 24 of the same name reigned as champions in the end.
“It was great to just see so many smiles today all across the island,” said Flack. “There has always been a lay day due to weather so giving the crew a chance to just have fun not just wait was just fantastic.”
Many sailors chose to do their own thing during the Lay Day, with some renting scooters and touring the island while others took advantage of the sunny skies and warm temperatures to spend a day at the beach with family.
Other organized offerings included an Abrams Farm Tour to see a newly-arrived baby Kangaroo and Lemur along with a Beach Clean Up overseen by the Block Island Conservancy.
Ken Comerford, owner of the J/111 Moneypenny, celebrated the fact his team is leading PHRF 1 class at the moment by holding a big party at his rental house on Lake Side Drive. Comerford and wife Jennifer Flake made it a game party with croquet, bocce ball, corn hole, flag football and beer pong.
While it was an off day from racing, almost all crews showed up at the docks early Wednesday morning in order to hoist sails that had gotten soaked by the torrential rain that soaked the entire 122-boat fleet during the Around the Island Race on Tuesday afternoon.
It was a unique sight to see spinnakers flying from the masts of boats sitting in slips at Champlin’s Marina, New Harbor Boat Basin and Payne’s Dock.
The wind is forecasted to be light with a building seabreeze for the next two days so still plenty of chances for the sailors to soak of the sun and enjoy all that Block Island Race Week, presented by Margaritaville has to offer.