Gentle breezes and fickle currents tested the skills and the patience of the fleet of 214 ocean racers at the Storm Trysail Club’s 19th biennial Race Week at Block Island today.
After drifting in near windless conditions under a bright blue sky, the fleet began racing in an eight to ten knots southwesterly breeze on flat water - ideal conditions for some but not sufficient to provide the action that others craved.
Conditions for the second day of the five day regatta were similar to the opening day but with a slightly steadier breeze. Tactical choices varied but winners all emphasized the importance of boat speed and the need to maintain clear lanes of wind while avoiding adverse current.
In first race of the one-design Farr 40 Class, Eric Moog's Canadian entry Dynamo rounded first mark with a pack of seven boats and made a decisive jibe, splitting to the west, launching her to an eventual victory of several boat lengths over the early class leader, Jim Richardson's well-sailed Barking Mad, from Newport, RI.
John Thomson's Solution from Port Washington, NY also sailed a steady race in patchy conditions, nipping Bill Jayson and Bob Burgess's Passage, from Rowayton, CT just before the finish. In the second race, Dominic Porco's Alliance nailed the pin end start and took a solid lead halfway up the first beat. Passage sneaked past them after the weather mark, lost them when they sailed into a hole, and then got by them again on the second beat to go on and win the race. Said helmsman Bill Jayson "We kept our heads the whole race, focusing on where the breeze was. I tried to stay focused on sailing fast and only got yelled at for looking around a couple of times." Dynamo passed Alliance near the finish to add a second to their first-race win, giving Moog the best score for the day. Passage's 4-1 boosted the Rowayton boat into second, a point behind Barking Mad, which finished fifth in the second race.
In the IMS big boat class Bob Towse from Stamford, CT, holds a narrow lead of four points after three races. His Reichel/Pugh 66-footer Blue Yankee logged a first and a third but the prize for the best performance in the class on Tuesday went to Bache Renshaw's six-year-old Nelson/Marek 48 Virago which took a first and a second place.
"This was a lovely sailing day," said Renshaw, from South Dartmouth, MA. "The boat likes conditions like this and we got good starts. The boat is doing very well for an old girl" In the IMS 40-Foot Class, Carl Olsson's Tripp 41 Morning Glory from Larchmont, NY, moved into first place in class on the strength of a second and a first place.
In the J/44 Class, Jimmy Sundstrom of Rye, NY sailed his Stampede to two first places to take over the lead in the rigidly one-design racer/cruiser class. Sundstrom who has been campaigning the boat for eight years, credited the crew he has had for the last two years for "great crew work." Sundstrom said the tactical choice of going right in both races had paid off for the Rye crew.
Richard Breeden's Reichel/Pugh 73, Bright Star, the biggest boat competing at Race Week, continued to revel in the light conditions, her tall rig reaching the stronger breezes higher off the water. With a first and a second place today, and a first yesterday, the boat from Greenwich, CT, leads Adam Gosling's Sydney 60 Yes, from London, England by two points. Despite her strong finishers, Breeden was quick to note today that his boat's starts had been less stellar. Bright Star was last boat off the start line in all three races thus far.