Wind delivereth not

For day three of Block Island Race Week

Wednesday June 22nd 2011, Author: Barby MacGowan, Location: United States

It didn’t matter that the sun wasn’t out, just that there was a slight promise the wind would blow on this third day of the Storm Trysail Club’s biennial Block Island Race Week XXIV presented by Rolex. The Race Committee sent the event’s fleet of 134 boats off to sail in 14 classes on Block Island Sound, but when the wind failed to deliver, it returned the competitors to wait ashore for further instructions and at 1:00 decided it best to cancel racing altogether for the day.

“Between the lack of wind and a squall getting ready to roll over the island, it was the prudent thing to do,” said Principal Race Officer Dave Brennan, noting that light air also caused postponements ashore on Monday and Tuesday but allowed for racing in the afternoons nevertheless. Unfortunately, the front passing today would have only rain to offer and nothing behind it wind-wise.

“It is what it is,” said Kevin Burnham, a Rolex Yachtsman of the Year and 470 Men’s Olympic Gold Medalist sailing in IRC 2 aboard Jack Lefort’s After Midnight. “We’re here for fun, not for sailing in the rain, so they made the right decision.”

That might have been easy to say back on shore, but action on the water in this class has been painting a fiercely competitive picture. After Midnight is a Tripp 41 chartered by LeFort and owned by Steve and Heidi Benjamin, who are sailing their Custom 41 High Noon in the same class. (Burnham playfully pointed out that the respective sail numbers, US 1201 and US 1200, are a play on the two boat names.) Both teams are champion material, but they are in eighth and fifth, respectively, and Lawrence Dickie’s Ker 43 Ptarmigan is seemingly unstoppable, leading with three bullets in as many races.

For Henry Little aboard Charlie Milligan’s Act One, currently fifth in IRC 4, having the afternoon off wasn’t such a bad prospect, even though a few races today would have bettered the boat’s chances of catching up with class leader Settler, owned by Tom Rich.

“Block Island is a wonderland for things to do,” said Little, who soon began planning with David Doody, a crew member off Bill Clemen’s Coyote in IRC 3, to buy a clam rake for $64 dollars and a one-week clamming license for $20 in order to dig up a raw bar of Little Necks, Quahogs and Steamers. “Eighty four dollars for as much fun in the mud as you can have?,” he joked, “I’d say that’s a good deal.”

Doody said Coyote hasn’t been faring as well as his team would have wished on the race course (they are currently tenth), “but today I can say we held our own, and if we can get a couple o’ dozen littlenecks ahead of the game, we’ll be in good shape.”

Tomorrow, more rain is in the forecast for the morning, and light air is anticipated after that. Dave Brennan said that Race Week’s Around the Island Race, which is traditionally held on Wednesday, might be held on Friday. “That’s the last day with sufficient enough wind to possibly get the boats around,” he said.

Racing concludes Friday for the five-day competition, which is hosting IRC (four classes), PHRF (five classes) and One-Design (Farr, NYYC Swan 42, J/44, J/109 and J/105) racing. The event is also serving as the 2011 IRC East Coast Championship, the J/122 National Championship (with the contenders sailing in IRC 3), and the J/109 East Coast Championship.

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