Thirty-five teams will set off on Ida Lewis Yacht Club’s 15th annual Ida Lewis Distance Race this Friday, August 16, starting at 12:30 off Fort Adams State Park. A late-summer sailing tradition loved by grand prix racers and cruising sailors alike, the overnight competition is for IRC, PHRF (racing and cruising) and Double-Handed boats of 28 feet or longer. Each division sails one of four round-trip courses pre-determined by the Race Committee to best fit the weather conditions; ranging in length from 112 and 169 nautical miles, the courses include turning marks at Castle Hill, Brenton Reef, Block Island, Montauk Point, Martha’s Vineyard and Buzzards Tower.
Returning to the IRC Division (nine boats) is the largest boat in the fleet, Warrior, sailed by Steve Murray and his son Stephen Murray from New Orleans, La. The Volvo 70 finished third in class last year and again will find White Rhino, Temptation-Oakcliffand Pterodactyl nipping at its heels or better. Those boats finished fourth, fifth and eighth, respectively, in 2018. (White Rhino is a Carkeek 47 skippered by Todd Stuart of Key West, Fla.; Temptation-Oakcliff, is a Ker 50 with Arthur Santry of Oyster Bay, N.Y. on the helm and collegiate sailors as crew, making it an entry in the Collegiate Team competition as well; and Pterodactyl is a Reichel/Pugh 45 skippered by Scott Weisman of White Plains, N.Y.)
Outside of that group are several newcomers to the IRC class, including Arara, a 67’ Marc Lombard designed Black Pepper Code 2, skippered by Timothy Golin of Chilmark, Mass. Golin considers the Ida Lewis Distance Race a next logical step in his development as a racing sailor.
“I’m a novice to offshore racing,” said Golin, who bought Arara in October of 2018, “but I’m lucky enough to include in my crew several buddies who are experienced in offshore and coastal racing, including a number who have competed in – and occasionally won – Newport to Bermuda races.”
Since Golin took delivery of the boat in the Mediterranean, he and his crew have sailed her to the French Atlantic coast, and from there to the Canaries, the Caribbean, and the Vineyard before spending the spring and summer racing short courses. “There are a lot of fast boats and capable sailors in this race and many who have sailed it many times before,” said Golin. “We’re still learning how to sail Arara, but we’re excited and will be happy to complete the race safely and have fun doing it.”
Another boat in Arara’s size range is the Tripp 65 Prevail, skippered by Dudley Johnson of Watch Hill, R.I. She will be the largest boat in the 10-boat PHRF Spinnaker Coronet Division (for larger boats with PHRF ratings of 54 and lower). Also sailing in that class will be last year’s overall PHRF winner Irie 2, a Ker 55 skippered by Newport’s own Brian Cunha, who in late July won the coveted Venona Trophy in Edgartown Race Weekend’s ‘Round-the-Island Race.
This year marks the first time that trophies will be given for best overall corrected and best overall elapsed times in the Coronet Division as well as the newly created PHRF Spinnaker Aloha Division (for smaller boats with PHRF ratings of 55 and higher).
Among those in the six-boat Aloha Division are Breakaway, a J/35 skippered by Paul Grimes of Portsmouth, R.I., who finished third in PHRF B class last year and perennial favorite Vento Solare, a 35-foot J/109 skippered by Bill Kneller of Newport, R.I. who finished fourth. Grimes, with six crew aboard, will be dual-scored in the Collegiate Team competition; four of his crew are from four different colleges.
“Splitting PHRF into Coronet and Aloha divisions is fantastic,” said Grimes. “It’s just what the race needed, and it allows the Race Committee to customize courses to get everyone in by the morning.” The option for courses, named for the iconic sailing grounds they cover, are the “Montauk” (longest), “Block Island”, “Point Judith”, and “Buzzards Bay Tower” (shortest).
The Double-handed Division will have five entries, all from Massachusetts, with the largest being the Spirit 47 Luna, skippered by Alessandro Pagani of Lexington and the smallest being the Quest 335 (32.5 feet) Cepheus, skippered by Philip Haydon of Boston. Both are new to the event.
Finally, in the five-boat PHRF Cruising Spinnaker Division, defending champion Andrew Burton will once again skipper his Baltic 47 Masquerade against fellow Ida Lewis members Rob and Pat Connerney aboard their Manse 43 Helios, which finished third last year. He looks forward to pacing against three other “unknowns,” including the Frers 56 Odette, skippered by Jasen Adams of Annapolis, Md. and the Oyster 54Liberty Call, skippered by Matthew Pilon of Middletown, R.I.
An ocean passage veteran, Burton bought Masquerade last year and immediately entered the Newport to Bermuda Race before showing his colors in the Ida Lewis Distance Race. “The difference between our class and the others is that we are all set up for cruising,” said Burton. “We’re allowed to carry with us only one spinnaker, while the other boats might carry several of different sizes. We have Dacron sails, our jibs are on roller furlers, and we aren’t doing 15 sail changes on a leg.”
Last year, Burton and his team were back at dawn on Saturday morning, having encountered varied conditions that included moderate breezes, some squalls and then light air. “It makes it fun with all the different conditions. How could it not be? We sail through the night, get back the next day and go to a big party – what a hoot!”