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24 June 2005, 11:50 am
Countdown To Victory
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Block Island Race Week 2005
Block Island, Rhode Island, USA

It was assured victory for some, but not so sure for others, as 190 teams tallied their scores from yesterday's racing at the Storm Trysail Club's Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex and began mentally preparing for today's fifth and final day of competition. The biennial event, in its 21st year, is hosting 17 classes and more than 2,000 sailors on tiny Block Island, ten miles off the coast of Rhode Island, USA.

'I don't think about my comfortable lead,' laughed Remedy's John FRIES (USA), whose first place position is all but insurmountable in the 14 boat PHRF class 2. 'I just keep sailing until my crew says I'm finished.' FRIES, who skippers the Evelyn 32 he owns with his father Bill and won his class at Key West Race Week earlier this year, posted finish positions of 3,1 yesterday to secure eleven points to the 20 held by second place finisher XLR8. 'There are some very fast, tough boats in our class; that's why we came. Sometimes it was condition specific as far as who did well, but you couldn't count anyone out.'

FRIES described yesterday as a challenge, with the first race started in a dying northeasterly and the second race sailed in a southerly that he was 'glad came in as evenly as it did.' The scene was duplicated on three of the four circles, necessitating a long wait between races as the wind switched direction. On the fourth circle, the PHRF non-spinnaker class completed one race as scheduled.

Another sure victory is for Tom HILL's (PUR) Titan XII in IRC Super Zero class. The largest boat in the fleet has showed the prowess of its design and talented crew throughout the week, winning five of its eight races. M&M's, too, cannot be toppled with its string of eight victories in as many races in the Beneteau 36.7 class.

Things are not so comfy, however, for Jeffrey WILLIS' (USA) Challenge IV, leader in the J/44 class. Snapping at her heels is overall second place finisher Gold Digger, which owner Jim BISHOP (USA) feels is capable of closing a three point gap today. 'I said the other day that any one of four or five boats could win this class,' said BISHOP, who has campaigned Gold Digger for 14 years, 'but I forgot to add 'in the last day.' That's how close it is. In our second race today [yesterday - Ed], nine boats overlapped at the first mark.'

Lots of lead swaps occurred yesterday in the races for the Farr 395 class, but Tsunami leads overall with ten points to Coyote's. 'It's close enough that anything could happen,' said MJ MALOOF (USA), a crewman aboard Avalanche, which sits in fourth, 'but it would have to be extraordinary circumstances for Tsunami to lose its lead. They would have to make mistakes, and they are not inclined to that.'

In IRC class 2, Troubador and Lora Ann are tied for first with 18 points each. In yesterday's first race, Troubador opted for the right side of the course, as the pressure was clearly better close to shore. They rounded the first windward mark with a substantial lead over Lora Ann. 'We had a very good first race,' said Troubador's mainsail trimmer Scott POWELL. 'The game was to get right first. We covered Lora Ann closely.' Their second race was less successful: 'Our start was bad, and things didn't get any better from there. It's going to be a showdown tomorrow [today - Ed].'

The J/120 contest is going down to the wire. Nicole WEAVER (USA), skippering Euro Trash Girl said yesterday, 'was a little frustrating, and we had no wind for a long period of time in the first race. We were really hoping for a third race. Points wise, this is a fairly close group.' Euro Trash Girl is currently in sixth with the top three boats, Sunday Driver, Ricochet and Sarah Beth, within one point of each other.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Bandit leads to the weather mark:© Dan Nerney/Rolex
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