Block Island Race Week - Serious competition at a hot vacation spot

Malcom Clarke’s J/44 DIOGENES2 crashes upwind in Monday’s Around the Island Race - Block Island Race Week
© Rolex / Dan Nerney
Block Island Race Week - June is just around the corner and competitors are again preparing for Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex. The regatta which has been returning biennially to one of New England’s most beloved island getaways since 1965 will be held at the Storm Trysail Club.

The five-day regatta, scheduled for June 20-24, has just announced that it will be hosting the J/109 East Coast Championship along with the previously announced 2011 IRC East Coast Championship and the J/122 National Championship. Along with these high-caliber featured competitions, the regatta will also include the debut of the new J/111 class and some serious racing for a large PHRF fleet. 'Boat entries are on pace with two years ago,' said Event Chair and Storm Trysail Club Vice Commodore Nick Langone.

'We already have 119 registered boats and expect 30 to 40 more, which will make for an exciting week of racing.' Already surpassing 2009’s entry list by three, the J/109 class is still expecting more to sign up before the end of May.

'For the J/109 class, Block Island Race Week has been on the schedule as one of the premier events of the year, along with the Annapolis NOOD, the North American Championship and the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta,' said class President Rick Lyall (Wilton, Conn.), who hopes to defend his 2009 class victory at Block Island with his boat Storm. 'We are going to do the best we can.

This class is very competitive with some terrific sailors, so I don’t think it will be easy to repeat our victory. We’ll have to be consistent, good and on top of our game; any slip-up can result in losing our position.' Along with the anticipation of meeting the tough competition coming out for this year’s Block Island Race Week, the Storm crew has other reasons to make its way to the island this summer.

STORM, Rick Lyall's J/109, leads its class. - Block Island Race Week
© Rolex / Dan Nerney

'Block Island Race Week is an incredible experience; first it is a well run regatta, and secondly, Block Island is a terrific venue. James Gallagher (jib trimmer aboard Storm) has a house on the island, so we stay there every year and our bow man Tim Longo is a gourmet cook. We enjoy the camaraderie with our team and with the class as a whole.'

The largest contingent this year will be in the IRC division, with over 30 entries. Jim Gregory (Danville, Calif.) is sailing all the way from California to attend the regatta with family and friends on his IRC 50 Morpheus. 'I grew up sailing at the Stamford Yacht Club in Connecticut, and Block Island was always a favorite family cruising destination,' said Gregory, who will be sailing with his wife Debby and their two sons as well as another family.

'I did my first Block Island Race Week in 1979, loved it, and haven’t missed one since.' This will be Gregory’s first year sailing on his own boat, and with the IRC East Coast Championship up for grabs he looks forward to another great year on Block Island. 'My expectations for this year onboard Morpheus are to enjoy sailing with friends and have a great time.'Others known for making a family affair out of the five-day regatta include the Storck family aboard the J/80 Rumor.

'I’ve done every Block Island Race Week since 1967,' said John Storck Jr. (Huntington, N.Y.). 'I started racing it with my father and now our kids (three sons John, Erik, Ian and daughter Kaity) have been sailing in it since they were young. Our oldest son, John, started in 1987 when he was four years old trimming the lazy spinnaker sheet.'

John Storck's J/80 RUMOR from Huntington, NY leads PHRF3 class. - Block Island Race Week
© Rolex / Dan Nerney

The Storck Family was named Scuttlebutt’s Sailing Family of the Year 2010, and each family member is well known for their background and experience in the sailing world. Currently, both Erik and Ian Storck are doing 49er campaigns and Kaity has been named to the All-American Offshore Team for 2011.

'In 2007, all of us were there and Kaity drove,' added John Storck Jr. 'In 2009, Kaity drove again and we won our PHRF division. This year, John and I will be there and Erik may come. Block Island has always been a part of our program. It’s a great venue with challenging sailing, and in the course of a week you can easily have every type of weather condition.'

To ensure that Block Island Race Week lives up to its reputation as one of America’s most popular Race Weeks, the Storm Trysail Club is working non-stop to set the stage for the fourth week in June, when sailors and their families will converge on the quaint island to enjoy a full week of exemplary views, great company and fierce competition.

The traditional around-the-island distance race will also be included, with a Rolex watch awarded to the top IRC boat. Racing headquarters for the 2011 Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex will be located at The Oar Restaurant, while evening festivities and award ceremonies will be held next door in the event tent.

A Rolex watch will be raffled off at the end of the event along with a trip to the Bitter End Yacht Club to benefit the Block Island Rescue Squad, Block Island Maritime Institute and the Block Island Early Learning Center. Compliments of Rolex, daily video shows of each day’s racing will be produced by Annapolis-based T2Productions and will be broadcast on-line each night by 9pm.

The videos will be shown daily under the 'Big Top' tent where all of Race Week’s sponsors will have a presence. Current Sponsors are Rolex, Toyota, Caithness Energy, Mount Gay Rum, Vineyard Vines, ING Clarion, Gill, Gowrie Group, UK-Halsey Sailmakers, Bitter End Yacht Club, New England Ropes, Hall Spars, Fiji Waters, West Marine, Yellow Tail, Heineken, Sailing World, and WindCheck.

Block Island Race Week: Website