Not Too Long, Not Too Short: Ida Lewis Distance Race Pleases Veterans and Newcomers Alike

Now that the Newport to Bermuda Race is in the history books, sailors are setting their sights on the next offshore racing opportunity, the Ida Lewis Distance Race, scheduled to start on Friday, August 18. However, unlike the Newport to Bermuda Race, which is point-to-point, the Ida Lewis Distance Race, in its 18th edition, is a round-trip adventure, starting and ending in Newport, R.I., which makes logistics easier to handle. And instead of an arduous 635 nautical miles, the Ida Lewis Distance Race is, at most, a pleasantly manageable 169 nm. (Unique to the Ida Lewis Distance Race, the Race Committee considers weather forecasts before the start to decide from among four courses that range from 112 to 169 nautical miles; the goal is to get all teams back to the dock within 18-24 hours.)

“The Ida Lewis Distance Race is just long enough for the fleet to be offshore overnight, yet not so long as to prohibit inviting family and friends to join for a first-time adventure,” said Event Chair Anselm Richards.

Among the Newport to Bermuda Race boats that plan to race in the Ida Lewis Distance Race are Eric Irwin & Mary Martin’s J/122 Alliance, Andrew Burton’s (Newport, R.I.) Baltic 47 Masquerade, Beau and Dea Van Metre’s (Middleburg, Va.) S&S Custom 59 Running Tide, Sheila McCurdy’s (Middletown, R.I.) McCurdy & Rhodes 38 Selkie, Art Santry’s (Newport, R.I.) Ker 50 Temptation-Oakcliff; and Chris Sheehan’s (Larchmont, N.Y.) Transpac 52 Warrior Won.

Warrior Won last competed in the Ida Lewis Distance Race in 2020 and won its IRC Class. The team is still one to beat, as evidenced by its outstanding performance in the Newport to Bermuda Race; the team won its eight-boat class and earned monohull line honors while winning the high-performance Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division.

Masquerade also won its Newport to Bermuda class – with 15 boats – and won Cruising Spinnaker Class at the 2020 Ida Lewis Distance Race.

Unfortunately, the 2021 Ida Lewis Distance Race had to be cancelled when Hurricane Henri barreled toward the upper East Coast, but good news is that the 2022 edition will be all that more exciting, especially for first-timers like Running Tide.

“We were signed up for the Ida Lewis race last year,” said Jocko Allpress (Newport, R.I.) who manages Running Tide’s mid-deck during racing. “Beau Van Metre had done the race twice on another boat and thoroughly enjoyed it, so he was really excited about getting Running Tide out there.” Allpress explained that the Van Metres “re-acquired” the legendary vessel in 2018, after having sold it three decades prior, and spent three years lovingly restoring it. As the sailing history books show, under the ownership of Beau and his late father Al Van Metre, Running Tide amassed over 200 trophies over a 12+ year span in the 1970s and early ‘80s, winning the Newport to Bermuda Race in its class five times (1970, ‘72, ‘74, ’76, ’80) and overall once (’76). To this day, it remains one of the most renowned sailboats in the history of offshore racing.

(Running Tide was forced to retire from this year’s Newport to Bermuda Race due to an asymmetrical spinnaker tearing apart. It was the only downwind sail the boat was allowed to carry.)

Alliance also signed up last year, and co-owners Eric Irwin and Mary Martin (both Newport, R.I.) had been hoping to make the race a practice for this year’s Newport to Bermuda Race, which saw the team finish fourth in its 13-boat class. As it is, this will be Alliance’s first Ida Lewis Distance Race (PHRF Coronet Class); although, Irwin and Martin have sailed the event several times before on other boats, mostly with the J/109 Vento Solare (typically, a frontrunner in PHRF Aloha Class).

“Our goal with Alliance is to hone our skills in offshore and double-handed racing and to provide opportunities for others to participate in offshore distance racing, particularly younger Corinthian sailors,” said Eric Irwin. “Transitioning from crewing on other people’s boat to owning and prepping a boat and developing skill sets for offshore racing has been a rewarding experience.”

Joining Alliance for the Ida Lewis Distance Race will be Matt and Tori Gimple and their children Lindsey, Megan and Eric. Among them they share a rich portfolio of racing experience from dinghies to offshore racing. Lindsey and Megan both participated in the Mudratz Youth Offshore program in Connecticut, which has been part of the Ida Lewis Distance Race Youth Challenge in the past; Eric gained significant big boat and offshore experience at the Coast Guard Academy. Rounding out the Alliance crew will be Marcus Wunderlich, serving as navigator. A double-handed racing enthusiast, Wunderlich has spent many hours over the last year gaining expertise in weather, navigation and tactics.

At the opposite extreme, Jim Coggeshall (Dartmouth, Mass.) and his crew aboard the J/121 Ceilidh (pronounced Kay’-Lee) have been removed from sailboat racing for quite some time now.

“In fact, we are just getting back into racing after being away for 26 years,” said Coggeshall. “My J/36 (also named Ceilidh) was the top PHRF boat in Southern Massachusetts that last year I campaigned a PHRF boat. I’m back to see how much I have forgotten!”

The Ida Lewis Distance Race begins off Fort Adams and ends just inside Newport Harbor where Ida Lewis volunteers can sight the finish line from their clubhouse on Lime Rock and greet each team on the water with a congratulatory bottle of Prosecco. The courses – incorporating some of the most storied cruising grounds in New England – are named “The Montauk”, “The Block Island”, “The Point Judith”, and “The Buzzards Bay Tower”.

For those planning on racing, Registration should be completed by August 1, 2022.

Classes, for boats 28 feet or longer, are ORC, PHRF, Double-Handed, and Mixed Gender Two-Person. The race also Includes Youth and Collegiate Challenge categories.



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