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21 June 2005, 09:53 am
First Day Satisfaction
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Block Island Race Week 2005
Block Island, Rhode Island, USA

Federally designated as one of the country's 'Last Great Places,' Block Island, USA yesterday became a great place for racing sailors. On a sunny opening day of the Storm Trysail Club's Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex, over 2,000 sailors competed on four racing circles, with all but one of 17 classes completing three races each.
The 190 boat fleet is enjoying IRC, PHRF and one-design racing for five days, with around-the-buoy races planned for all days but today, when an around-the-island race is scheduled. Yesterday's atypical easterly winds gradually clocked to the south, remaining in the twelve knot range for most of the day and picking up slightly in the late afternoon.

'By our third race, it was blowing 18 before the start, but it knocked back down to 15,' said Paul SEAMON (USA), a crewman aboard Loki, which wound up fifth in PHRF class 4. 'We were contemplating a #2 jib but stayed with our #1. There was plenty of wind, but it was very shifty, especially at the leeward mark set near shore. We were happy about the three races, of course. I mean why not, with the day being so nice?'

Four boats had perfect scores yesterday to lead their classes. They were Kent COMERFORD's (USA) Moon Racer in the Beneteau 40.7 class, Mark and Mara PLOCH's (USA) M&M's, in the Beneteau 36.7 class, Carrie AUSTIN's (USA) Chinook in PHRF class 4, and Michael RAJACICH's (USA) Big Time in PHRF class 5. In PHRF non-spinnaker class, which sailed one longer course around government marks, Kel WEBER's (USA) Rascal won.

In the Farr 40 class, Warpath, of Fred and Steve HOWE (USA), leads, while Tom HILL's (PUR) Titan XII and Dennis COLLINS and Steve BENJAMIN's (USA) High NOON lead in their respective IRC Super Zero and Zero classes. Titan won two of her races yesterday with Numbers and Hissar falling in line behind her in overall scoring. The two latter boats, along with Rima, are Farr 60s, which adds a one-on-one dimension to the racing in this class.

'It's quite close with all of us,' said Hissar's main trimmer Mike TOPPA (USA). 'We're not trying to match race. We're trying to race the fleet, but when you have three 60 footers, you're closer, and there's a lot more tacking on each other. Titan has a nice advantage in that they are usually out in front with clear air.'

Block Island Race Week's best overall performer from 2003, Thomas ENRIGHT's (USA) Pretty Sketchy is in an early lead in the J/105 class, the largest at the regatta with 21 entrants, while Jeffrey WILLIS' (USA) Challenge IV currently leads in J/44 class.

'Our finishes today [1-1-3],' said WILLIS, 'came from making good starts and hitting the right side of the course. Our crew work was unbelievable. Our jibes were spot-on all day. But it's a long week, and things can really change, and this is a very competitive class-Gold Digger had consistently strong finishes today [2-2-2].'

Today's breezes are expected to be stronger, which should set the stage for high quality racing around the island. The wild card, however, is a strong current that befuddles many. Things get especially interesting on the island's lee side, where the wind spreads out in cats' paws and rocky shallows test the draft and integrity of keels.

Event Media. Image, On the bow of Hissar:© Dan Nerney/Rolex
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