At this year’s Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race, some new faces are expected following the announcement of a short course addition -- the Plum Island Course (126 nautical miles all in Long Island Sound) -- as a PHRF-class option to the event’s traditional 186 nautical mile course for both IRC and PHRF.
Block Island Race Week 2011
The change for the Memorial Weekend event means starting at The Cows off Stamford, Conn. and rounding Red and White Whistle 'PI' northwest of Plum Island before heading back while the rest of the Block Island Race fleet continues farther afield to circumnavigate Block Island.
'In 2007, we had created an option to shorten the race to the Plum Island Whistle and back in case the weather was bad,' said Storm Trysail Club Rear Commodore Lee Reichart. 'This year, we thought that there just might be a significant number of new-to-ocean-racing boats and crews who might like to sail that course anyway, because it keeps them from having to go out in the ocean and consequently eliminates the need to carry a life raft, which is a safety requirement for all others in this race.'
With over 50 entries to date, the Block Island Race is easily on target to top last year’s fleet of 59 (in six IRC and two PHRF classes), and with the race preceding the biennial Newport Bermuda Race, organizers are expecting to host many of that distance race’s entrants who are preparing.
The Block Island Race, which has been held annually for 67 years, is a staple on the calendar of many New England competitors and starts on Friday May 25 at 1400. It is notorious for the 'fork in the road' decision that Plum Island forces after 60 miles of sailing: competitors must decide to take either Plum Gut, 'The Race' or even Fishers Island Sound while leaving Long Island Sound. This decision often determines the outcome of the race.
The Block Island Race was first held in 1946 and is a qualifier for the North Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy (IRC), the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF), and the Gulf Stream Series (IRC). The Block Island Race is also a qualifier for the Caper, Sagola, and Windigo trophies awarded by the YRA of Long Island Sound and the ‘Tuna' Trophy for the best combined IRC scores in the Edlu (40%) and the Block Island Race (60%).