Block Island Race
The 72nd edition of the Block Island Race on May 26 off of Stamford, CT was 186nm with 66 entrants. The breeze at the first start was a shifty 4 knots, but by the third start, it settled into a stiff northwesterly of 15 knots with significantly higher gusts. Most of the fleet popped their kites right at the start, with the majority paralleling the CT coast for the first 15-20 miles. A number of forecasts predicted a big wind hole in the middle of L.I. Sound in the Bridgeport-to-New Haven area, and soon the leading boats in the fleet began to see the first signs of its unwelcome appearance. The quandary was which side of the Sound would be better for getting around the hole–the CT shore, or the Long Island shore. Some gybed toward the LI shore, and others decided to stay the course along the CT side. Cutting across the Sound carried an additional risk of not making it to the other shore before the wind shut down. The key– in hindsight– was being close to either shore: it mattered less which shore you were on, as long as you weren’t out toward the middle. The hole, however, didn’t last nearly as long as some of the forecasts had predicted, and the fleet made good progress toward buoy 1BI off the north end of Block Island, with most flying spinnakers all the way to, and then around, the island. As they passed the south side of the island, the fleet was faced with a NW breeze and back toward Long Island Sound. The forecasts indicated a good chance the wind would shift toward the SE, with a light and fluky transition period. After the fleet leaders re-entered the Sound (most through Plum Gut), the wind from the NW faded to a period of calm before the southerly wind began to fill in, but somewhat erratically. Eventually, the southerly took precedence, and by Saturday afternoon (May 27), the lead competitors began to reappear on the Stamford horizon. In the PHRF fleet, LIBERTAS—a J/111 skippered by John Donovan—took first place overall on corrected time. For more STC Block Island Race information, visit https://www.stormtrysail.org/regattas/block-island-race.