RACE WEEK COVERAGE
Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week
Race Day 4 - Thursday June 27, 2013
BLOCK ISLAND, R.I. (June 27, 2013) – In PGA golf, Saturday is called “moving day” because it’s the day where competitors try to set themselves up for the final push on Sunday; thus, there is frequently a noticeable advance by certain players up the leaderboard while others buckle under the pressure. Although it’s Thursday at the Storm Trysail Club’s 25th Anniversary Block Island Race Week, today was to be moving day for all 182 sailors in 19 classes before tomorrow’s final races, but pea soup fog interrupted the plan. After an hour and a half postponement ashore, the fleet headed out, still in fog, but hopeful that it would let up enough to get a race off. After another hour wait, three of four racing circles got sent home, and only Green Fleet – Cruising Spinnaker, Cruising Non-Spinnaker, Double Handed, PHRF 4 and PHRF 5 – managed to complete a race. The leaders in those classes, however, remained the same at the end of the day.
“The southernmost Green circle has turned out to be the best all week, with more wind, and today, more visibility,” said Dave Curtis, who skippered the Taylor 38 Rival in PHRF 4 and added yet another win to his run of six straight class victories, including in Tuesday’s Around the Island Race, which he also won overall. “The hardest part of our race was on the way out—we’d lost our battery power so we had no electronics, just a hand-held GPS and a radio, but we made it to the course. For about an hour or so before the race we could actually see the island and the weather mark about a mile away. It turned out to be a good challenging race, where we actually trailed for the first time all week, but then got nicely ahead.”
With Curtis leading his closest competitor, David Alldian (Brick, N.J.) aboard the Sabre 362 Cymothoe, by a whopping 14 points, he looks to have the regatta pretty well wrapped up. It is closer in PHRF 5 where Air Express, a San Juan 30 skippered by Chris Fesenmeyer (Norwalk, Conn.) narrowed its three point gap on leader Stealth, an Evelyn 26 skippered by Jay Greenfield (Noank, Conn.), to just one point today by winning the race.
The only other team here with all victories in its score line is Celeritas, a Melges 32 in PHRF 1, skippered by Malcolm Gefter (Newport, R.I.). “We have been crossing the line first in every race even though others owe us time, but that’s understandable because we’ve been training all year for the Melges 32 Worlds in September, and like Bliksem (currently in second overall with 19 points to Celeritas’ six), which is training for the Farr 30 Worlds, we have a lot of pros onboard.”
Gefter’s eight-man team had planned all along to only sail the first three days of Race Week as “a practice session,” so most of them left the island after racing yesterday. Gefter, however, was convinced by a crew member to stay for today’s racing to secure victory in the class, so he filled in with some substitute crew. Today’s cancellation leaves him in good shape, mathematically, to win, even though he says he definitely will not compete tomorrow.
Interestingly, Gefter only learned to sail six years ago and his success in racing, he says, is due in large part to the classes with which he decides to get involved. “If I were to go with traditional classes, like J/24 or Etchells, then I couldn’t catch up with life-long sailors who dominate those,” said Gefter, who used to own a Swan 42, and now owns, along with his Melges 32, a Viper and a Marstrom 32. “If I go with fleets like the Swan 42, which was new when I was involved, and the Melges 32, which is only two or three years old, I’m more on equal footing with everyone who is learning the boat for the first time.
That concept is something that would make total sense to Duff Archie (Alexandria, Virginia), a high school student who yesterday had his first experience as a bow man on Buckaroo, which is proudly in last place in the J 105 class. The boat was chartered by Robert Beguelin (Bethesda, Md.), who recruited eight high school juniors and seniors, including his son, to serve as crew. They are all from DC Sails, an organization in Washington, D.C. that teaches kids to sail using FJ dinghies. “The program is great,” said Beguelin, “but when it’s over, then what do the kids do? After this experience, they are miles ahead of their compatriots. Duff had three perfect spinnaker sets and three perfect take downs yesterday. He’s 131 pounds – what J/24 skipper wouldn’t want him to be a part of his crew if he’s experienced?” About Block Island Race Week and sailing in general, Duff Archie said, “I love the culture. I’m more confident and hopeful to get more crewing positions. I want to sail in college; something drew me into it, and I’m looking forward to keeping it up my whole life.”
This year’s edition of Block Island Race Week is serving as championships for IRC and J 80 one designs (North Americans); PHRF and J 29, J 44, J 105, and J 109 one designs (East Coasts); and Swan 42s (New Englands).
To celebrate its Silver Anniversary, the Storm Trysail Club brought back some of the shore side sports that were part of the event’s formative years in the 1960s. The most popular was Water Jousting in the “arena” of the Boat Basin, where a raucous crowd of revelers cheered on the competition from the lawn at The Oar Restaurant.
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