Boomerang recovers record

At conclusion of the Block Island Race

Monday May 27th 2002, Author: Keith Taylor, Location: United States
Manned by a crew of veteran sailors, George Coumantaros' 80-foot maxi-yacht Boomerang demolished the course record for the Storm Trysail Club's 57th annual Block Island Race this weekend by nearly three hours.

Starting on Friday night, the German Frers-designed Boomerang sailed the 185 nautical miles from Stamford, clockwise around Block Island and back to Stamford Harbor entrance in 16 hours, 20 minutes and 50 seconds, at an average speed of 11.3 knots. Boomerang peeled two hours, 53 minutes, 19 seconds off the old record set four years ago by Hasso Plattner's Reichel/Pugh maxi Morning Glory, steered by America's Cup winner Russell Coutts.

The veteran leading the veterans was owner skipper George Coumantaros of Greenwich, CT, a member of the Storm Trysail Club who will celebrate his 80th birthday in July this year. But first he will compete in the 635-mile Newport to Bermuda Race next month. Coumantaros first sailed in the annual Block Island Race in the early 1960s.

In a hard-fought match race that continued for all but the final few miles of the race, Boomerang battled with another Greenwich boat - Richard Breeden's 75-foot Reichel/Pugh- designed Bright Star. She finished just under an hour behind Boomerang.

After the last of the 86 boats competing in the race finished early on Sunday morning, a calculation of the handicaps showed that Boomerang's fast passage time had also earned her first place in class and first in fleet for International Measurement System [IMS] boats.

In reclaiming the race record they set in 1996 with the same boat - and subsequently lost, by less than three minutes, two years later to Morning Glory - Coumantaros and his crew completed their 'warm-up' for the Bermuda Race in June.

Coumantaros team was 'the Boomerang alumni' - 22 past and current crew loyalists who between them counted 265 Block Island Races and 683 years of ocean racing experience.

"There was a lot of talent and a lot of gray hair on that boat!" said navigator Bob Hale.

John Fisher of Darien, a Boomerang regular, added: "Everything went our way. We had good breeze almost all the way around and we were able to maintain a good pace. It got interesting about two hours into the race when a cold front came through. George called it and insisted on changing to a smaller, heavyweight spinnaker. It was up and drawing five minutes before the front rolled through. We hit boat speeds of 17 to 18 knots and at one point we logged 20.4

Watch captain Jeff Neuberth, Riverside, CT, said that Bright Star had pulled ahead of Boomerang in the early stages. "They are faster than we are in some conditions, but we were able to get past them," he said. "Coming back down Long Island Sound they were no more than a mile behind us".

The overall winner of the 46-boat Performance Handicap Racing Fleet [PHRF] was another big boat, Dietrich Weisman's Alden 63 Sceptre'd Isle. She finished two and a half hours after Boomerang and on corrected time was the handicap winner of Class 5 PHRF and PHRF overall.

John Storck's veteran Ericson 39 Jonrob, from Huntington, NY, won Class 9 PHRF. A former commodore of the Storm Trysail Club, Storck followed a family tradition and raced with three of his teenage children as part of the crew. They will also receive the Commodore's Trophy for the boat that won her class and beat the second and third placed boats in that class by the greatest margin of time.

In a different family scenario, father and son Ed Gaynor and Hewitt Gaynor, both from Southport, CT, won in two separate classes. Ed Gaynor sailed his custom 44-footer Emily to first place in IMS Class 7, while his son Hewitt, campaigned his J/120 Mirelle to first in the Doublehanded class.

The 57th Block Island Race will however be shadowed by the loss of crewman Jamie Boeckel.

For full results - click here .

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