Epic, Sunny, Fast Round Island Race!
(Newport, RI)- After three days of racing in excellent Narragansett Bay sailing conditions, it was hard for participants to name their favorite day, that’s how beautiful the weather was for this year’s 163rd edition of the New York YC Annual Regatta. The three-day festival of sailing started with the highly popular 21.0 nm Around Island Race (Jamestown) on Friday. Then, Saturday/Sunday the various fleets spread across four sailing areas from offshore on Rhode Island Sound, to a “stadium sailing” course next to Fort Adams, to round the buoys and random-leg courses set in Narragansett Bay. There is a little of something for everyone in this format and it was clear that most sailors in the fleet of ninety offshore keelboats had a blast sailing in IRC, ORC, PHRF and J/44 classes. Twenty J/Boats participated (25% of the total) and many walked off with a fair amount of silverware for their trophy rooms!
For the Around Island Race on Friday, the winds started out slowly, forcing an initial one-hour postponement. However, the breeze finally filled in from the west at 8-15 kts, as forecast, and the fleet enjoyed basically a super-fast “reach around” the track. The only opportunity to not go white sail reaching was on the short 2nm segment at the north end of Jamestown, going from Green Can #4 to Bell #8. At the very end of the race, the smaller boats experienced a building seabreeze that shifted the breeze further south, creating a beat for the bottom half of the fleet. As a result, it was a “big boat” race for overall handicap scoring.
In IRC 3 Class, Tom Sutton’s J/35 LEADING EDGE demonstrated why the love the Round Island Race so much, taking the bronze for the class to add to their Overall Class/Title awards from the 2016 event. Bringing his amazing offshore crew from Lexington, NC up to the northeast to do battle with the top crews this summer was Robin Team’s J/122 TEAMWORK; this time managing a 5th in class despite not having a lot of local knowledge aboard. Sixth went to Bill Sweetser’s J/109 RUSH.
A sweet victory was savored by local Jamestown hero, Jim Bishop’s famous ocean green J/44 GOLD DIGGER, taking the J/44 class after a pitched battle with the US Coast Guard Academy’s J/44 GLORY. Third was Chris Lewis’ KENIA from Houston, TX.
In PHRF 1 division, John Greifzu’s J/109 GROWTH SPURT placed 5th, Steve McManus and Brad Boston’s J/120 SAYKADOO took 8th, Brian Kiley’s J/109 GAMBIT was 10th and Abhijeet Lele’s J/111 VARUNA was 12th.
The PHRF 2 division saw a J/sweep of the top five! Winning was Don Santa’s J/105 SANTA’S REIGN-DEAR, 2nd was Doug Newhouse’ J/88 YONDER, third was another J/88- Dave Malkin’s MI-2, fourth saw John Krediet’s J/97 PARTICIPANT enjoy their 1st Round Island, and fifth place went to EC Helme’s J/92S SPIRIT.
For the Annual Regatta racing that took place on Saturday and Sunday, there were several impressive performances by J/teams. Notably, it was Robin Team’s J/122 TEAMWORK that simply smoked IRC 3 Division, posting three bullets enroute to a dominating class win with just 12 pts. In fact, they led yet another J/sweep of the podium, as they were followed by Tom Sutton’s J/35 LEADING EDGE in 2nd place, and Bill Sweetser’s J/109 RUSH in the bronze position.
In PHRF 2 Division, it was yet another J/sweep, led by Fred Darlington’s J/105 TONTO. In a tie-breaker, it was Jack McGuire’s J/29 DIRTY HARRY over Doug Newhouse’s YONDER, for 2nd and 3rd, respectively. In fourth was SANTA’S REIGN-DEAR and fifth went to Malkin’s J/88 MI-2. Krediet’s J/97 PARTICIPANT II was 7th overall.
There were six J/44s sailing in their one-design class configuration; including the US Coast Guard Academy’s GLORY, Bill Ketcham’s MAXINE, Bill Mooney’s KATANA, Willets Meyer’s BEAGLE, Jim Bishop’s GOLD DIGGER, and Chris Lewis’ KENAI.
For Lewis’ KENAI, the issue wasn’t coming into the event with low expectations, it was not having anything on which to base expectations. While Lewis has owned his boat for 21 years, he’d never raced against other J/44s utilizing the class one-design sails until this weekend.
“We normally race with a sprit and asymmetric spinnakers,” said Lewis, from Houston, Texas. “We’ve been doing distance races in that format. We spent three days converting the boat to the one-design format to compete in this regatta and the J/44 North American championship at Block Island Race Week. We had really no idea how we would perform. We’ve never lined up against these guys.”
The early returns were promising, with KENAI notching a first and two seconds on Saturday. But that still left Lewis and his team a point in arrears of NYYC Vice Commodore Bill Ketcham’s MAXINE. In Sunday’s fresher breeze, KENAI was the class of the fleet with a second and two firsts and a three-point overall win.
“We sailed very consistently and my tactician, Mike McGagh, made some good calls on the race course,” said Lewis. “We were pretty much always able to match the other boat’s speed. We had a very good battle with Bill’s MAXINE and the outcome was decided in the last two races. We’re based in Texas, and so we’re the dark horse of the J/44 fleet. But, I guess the dark horse did well this weekend!” For more NYYC Annual Regatta sailing informationAdd to Flipboard Magazine.
This article was syndicated from J/News Articles