Mills finale

As the 43ft Cool Breeze wins the hotly contested IRC 40A class at Rolex's Block Island Race Week

Saturday June 27th 2009, Author: Barby MacGowan, Location: United Kingdom
A single race today decided the fate of 153 boats entered in the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week XXIII presented by Rolex. The event, which began Monday, hosted 1500 sailors on the tiny land mass of Block Island, which for five days in every odd-numbered year becomes the epicenter for sailing in New England. Of the 17 victors named in as many classes today, three were new leaders since yesterday, illustrating best how the tough got going when the going got tough.

In J/122 class, which was using the event as its North American championship, Doug Shaffer’s (Bayview, Texas) Gambler had three points to make up on yesterday’s leader Flying Jenny VI, skippered by David Askew (Annapolis, Md.). Gambler accomplished that at the first weather mark when all the boats converged at the same time.

“Everybody was ducking boats; we were in fifth place and jibed out to the left and picked up three boats (to finish second),” said Shaffer. “That was the regatta right there. Flying Jenny had to take more boats at that mark (and finished eighth for second overall).” Shaffer, who has owned a number of different J boats over the years, says this is the first time he has won a regatta on a national level and gave credit to his crew, which included co-helmsman Eric Olving (Long Branch, N.J.) and tactician Jay Lutz (Seabrook, Texas).

In IRC 40B class, the Farr 395 Avalanche, skippered by Craig Albrecht (Sea Cliff, N.Y.), started his series with a DNS (did not start) due to a broken rudder but proceeded to win five races, including today’s, in the eight-race series. After today’s performance, the boat climbed to first over yesterday’s leader Katabatic, an IMX 40 skippered by Gordon Hall (Marblehead, Mass.).

Loki, the S2-9.1 skippered by Richard Correll (Huntington, N.Y.) in PHRF 4 class, also rose to the top today, pushing yesterday’s leader Boondoggle, a Frers 30 skippered by Scott Kirkpatrick (Wellesley, Mass.) to third.

For Rick Lyall (Wilton, Conn.), skipper of Storm in the J/109 class, sailing “clean and competitively” - and winning today’s race - was the key to securing his Block Island victory and the 2009 J/109 East Coast Championship title. “It was very exciting, sailing in 18-19 knots today,” he said. “The boat was prepared and performing tremendously; we were spot on with our navigation and tactics, and we’re just thrilled with the victory.”

Caminos, skippered by Donald Filippelli, (Amagansett, N.Y.) was the only boat that could mathematically beat Storm today, and that’s who Lyall defended against initially. After Caminos made the “mistake” of going to the right gate, however, Storm was free to establish its lead on the second downwind leg, and the rest was history.

All eyes were on the IRC 40A class to see if Cool Breeze, the Mills 43, skippered by John Cooper (Springfield, MO) , could maintain its lead over the contentious King 40 Act One, owned by Bill Titus/Allan Stern/Charlie Milligan/Tom Roche (Newport, R.I.). It did, as the breeze shifted hard right and the fog rolled in. “It was a mystery to find the weather mark,” said Cooper, “but the navigator (John Crutcher) made the right calls, and we were out in front fortunately.” Cool Breeze won the race with Act One taking fourth to secure its second overall. Cooper has done Block Island a half dozen times but this is his first victory.

In the biggest class here, for J/105 one-designs, Bruce Stone and Scott DeWeese (San Francisco, Calif.) drove Power Play to overall victory with a third today in a photo-finish with second-place Savasana, skippered by Brian Keane (Weston, Mass.). Stone said his biggest drama this week, however, was that his team sailed Saturday and Sunday in San Francisco and still made it here for Monday’s start. “We traveled by plane, taxi and sportsfishing boat to get to our borrowed boat here with seconds to spare.” Stone, originally from Providence, R.I., says he loves Block Island Race Week, where the race management is superb and the venue is beautiful. “Ours was a tough class,” he added.

Paul Pakos' (Sudbury, Mass.) Swan 44 Xenophon, sailed entirely by retired Coast Guard captains and admirals, won Navigator’s class for non-spinnaker sailing. Pakos said the class is nothing close to what the term “cruising canvas” (a traditional name for such a class) suggests. “Some of us have carbon spars and Kevlar sails, and it’s still very competitive,” he said, explaining that the class sails longer courses, between eight and 17 miles, while the others are short-course buoy racing.. “Our crew gets together only once a year and it’s to sail in Block Island.”

In PHRF 1, XLR8, an Evelyn 32, skippered by Brad Porter (Westbrook, Conn.), maintained its two-point lead from yesterday to win, but yesterday’s second-place boat, the Beneteau 34 L’Outrage, owned by Bruce Gardner (Annapolis, Md.), fell to fourth while the US Naval Academy’s Navy 44 Swift, skippered by Kenneth Endicott, took its place.

In IRC 35 class, Mort Weintraub’s (Larchmont, N.Y.) Express 37 Troubador finished third today, adding that to its untouchable score line that included six first-place finishes over eight races. Driving was Jamie Anderson (Larchmont, Conn.).

In IRC Zero class, the STP65 Rosebud/Team DYT, owned by Roger Sturgeon (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) prevailed over Vanquish, owned by the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) and steered by Ralf Steitz (Kings Point, N.Y.)

For best overall performance on their respective race circles, the skippers of Hustler (winner of PHRF 2 class, skippered by John & Tony Esposito, Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), Troubador and Power Play each received a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner timepiece.

Other Trophy Winners

- Everett B. Morris Memorial Trophy for Best Overall Performance: Powerplay

- Isbrandtsen Overall Perpetual Trophy for the second best performance: Troubador

- Justin Wasley Memorial Trophy for the overall winner of the one-design class with the largest number of entries: Powerplay

- U.S. IRC Trophy for the IRC boat that triumphs in the most competitive IRC class: Troubador

- Island Sailing Club of Cowes Perpetual Trophy for the first overall IRC rated boat in the Around the Island Race (also won a Rolex oyster Perpetual Submariner timepiece): Rosebud/Team DYT

- Vintage Yacht Trophy for the yacht 15 years or older with the best performance of the week: XLR8

- John Alden Reed Perpetual Trophy for the best performance by a Service Academy Yacht: Nimbus (USMMA)

- Governors Perpetual Trophy for the foreign yacht with the best performance of the week: Nasty Medicine

- Shelter Island Team Trophy: Storm Trysail Club White (Rumor, Lora Ann, Challenge VI)

Sponsors of Race Week are Rolex, Caithness Energy, Mount Gay, Lewmar, Bitter End Yacht Club, Gill, Gowrie Group, Hall Spars & Rigging, Heineken, ING Real Estate, Sailing World magazine, Summit Yachts, UKHalsey Sailmakers, WindCheck magazine, Yellow Tail, and Vineyard Vines.

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