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29 June 2007, 11:59 am
Blue Yankee Wins Inaugural Rolex US-IRC National Championship
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Block Island Race Week 2007
Block Island, Rhode Island, USA

The wind rallied for the final day of the Storm Trysail Club's Block Island Race Week XXII presented by Rolex, blowing early and hard at 18-22 knots with gusts up to 25. It was the perfect ending for five days of racing that ended with champions named in 18 classes (for IRC, PHRF, and One-Design) and a first-ever Rolex US-IRC National Champion crowned.
The biennial race week first made its mark on this tiny land mass in 1965 and this year hosted 2,000 sailors on 183 boats. Seven of the classes with 69 boats were devoted to IRC racing, the hottest, newest rating rule being used in the USA.

Blue Yankee, Bob and son Farley TOWSE's (USA) Reichel/Pugh 66 sailed in the six-boat Super Zero class to take the Rolex US-IRC National Championship. With its crew of notables, including skipper Steve BENJAMIN, tactician Edward Warden OWEN and strategist Chris LARSON, the team secured its victory after finishing second in the last day's race and posting four victories and a second prior to that. The mathematical formula for determining Blue Yankee as champion was based on fleet performance, using corrected boat speed, and class competitiveness.

'Obviously there were some big gaps between us and the rest of the class,' said Farley TOWSE, referring to the pace of Blue Yankee, which at times put it a leg ahead of the others. 'But that being said, it doesn't matter how far ahead or behind you are because anything can happen, and with one of the variables for the national championship being a comparison between classes, you're always sailing against time.'

Other Winners

With Blue Yankee having been purpose built for IRC racing, it matched up fairly in the national championship determination against others of the same ilk, such as Colm BARRINGTON's (IRL) Ker 50 Magic Glove (winner of IRC Zero class), as well as older boats, such as Randall and Matt BALDWIN's (USA) Taylor 42 Cabady, which won the last day's race and topped 14 boats in its IRC class 5.

Going into the last day, Cabady was nipping at the heels of Blue Yankee for the national championship, but it was Hunt LAWRENCE's (USA) Ker 11.3 Cracker in the ten-boat IRC class that rose to second in the national championship ranking, with Cabady slipping to third. Cabady, however, won the perpetual US-IRC Trophy for the best overall IRC performance at the regatta, as judged by the race committee.

'Our performance shows that a good older boat can come into IRC and compete with the custom-built IRC boats,' said Matt BALDWIN, explaining that Cabady, the old Numbers, was built in 1991. 'It shows that the IRC rating is fair.'

Blue Yankee received a Rolex steel and platinum Yacht-Master as the winner of the Rolex US-IRC National Championship. The team also was the top IRC finisher in the event's around-the-island race, which also was deserving of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner timepiece as prize, in addition to the Island Sailing Club of Cowes Perpetual Trophy, first awarded in 1965 and commemorating the link to Britain's Cowes Week, after which Block Island Race Week was patterned.

Barby MacGowan (As Amended by ISAF). Image, Blue Yankee:© Dan Nerney/Rolex
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