Ida Lewis Distance Race preview

Ida Lewis Yacht Club - Ida Lewis Distance Race 2011
ILDR/Kirsten Ferguson
Ida Lewis Distance Race starts Friday, August 19 at 1 p.m. off Fort Adams in Narragansett Bay and includes turning marks at Castle Hill, Brenton Reef, Block Island, Montauk Point, Martha’s Vineyard and Buzzards Tower on its way to a signature champagne finish inside Newport Harbor off the historic Ida Lewis Yacht Club.

Tthe starting gun will fire for three separate starts, which will see 35 IRC, PHRF and doublehanded boats embark on one of four courses ranging from 104 – 177 nautical miles. With winds forecasted between 10-15 (Friday) and 5-8 knots (Saturday), the Race Committee expects that the smallest boat will finish before 5:00 p.m. on Saturday night (August 20), just in time for a spectacular finish line party at Ida Lewis Yacht Club.

'The Ida Lewis Yacht Club is very hospitable to competing racers and this is our one race in the Newport area every year,' said Rick Orichhio (Fairfield, Conn.) who does most of his racing on Long Island Sound and took home third in last year’s IRC Class 1 on his boat J/120 Rocket Science. 'I’ve enjoyed the Ida Lewis Distance Race in the past, but 2010 was the first year that we did it on my boat. Our goal is to sail fast and be safe. I’m looking forward to another fun race.'

Talk of the Youth Challenge, which started in 2010, has drawn a lot of curious junior sailors, including 15-year-old Hannah Davis (Newport, R.I.) who will be making the jump from her 420 to a high-tech Class 40, Toothface skippered by Mike Dreese (West Newton, Mass.) and crewed by three other experienced sailors. 'I’m the youngest crew onboard and was on the boat today checking it out. It is so stripped down for racing,' said Davis who has never raced in an offshore event. 'I’m really looking forward to the learning experience and getting good instruction from seasoned sailors. I want to learn as much as possible about offshore racing, because it is not something I’ve been exposed to in the past.'

To qualify for the Youth Challenge, more than 40% of the crew must have reached their 14th birthday but not turn 20 prior to August 19, 2011, therefore Toothface will not be eligible. Dreese looks forward to creating a learning environment for eager junior sailors as well as getting an extra set of hands on-deck.

'She [Hannah] will certainly be a welcome addition to our team and I think it will definitely be an eye-opener,' said Dreese who is no novice when it comes to offshore sailing and has competed in many distance races this season, including the Bermuda One-Two Yacht Race where he and co-skipper Ken Luczynski (Newport, R.I.) received line honors for the Bermuda to Newport leg, and also took home first place in PHRF 1 division at the Marblehead to Halifax Race Ocean Race 2011. 'I’ve competed in the ILDR before and it is a great race that has all the challenges of ocean racing. It will be a learning experience for Hannah; three or four in the morning is whole lot different than when the sun is out.'

The competitive doublehanded class will also be welcoming new entrant, Edmund Flynn (Marlborough, Mass.) who has sailed the last three ILDRs in the PHRF Class but looks forward to a new approach with longtime crew and friend Matt Browne (Exeter, R.I.). 'My kids are going back to college early and my normal crew isn’t available so it was going to leave me shorthanded,' said Flynn. 'We’ve always done well in the PHRF Class and doing the race doublehanded will be a great equalizer. I love the race and it is just the right distance with the right kinds of boats that make it enjoyable.'

Depending on the weather tomorrow morning, the Race Committee will designate a course (longer for IRC and shorter for PHRF, Youth Teams, One-Design and Doublehanded sailors) from among four courses: Montauck (177 nm), Block Island (150 nm), Nomans (122 nm) and Buzzards Bay Tower (104 nm).

The Ida Lewis Distance Race is a qualifier for the 2011 New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF); Northern and Double-Handed Ocean Racing Trophies (IRC); and the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series.

Fans can also follow the race in real-time online.

Starting Line sponsors are North Sails, New England Boatworks, City of Newport, and Doug Ferguson and Family.
Contributing sponsors are Dockwise Yacht Transport, Flint Audio Video, Gosling’s Rum, Mac Designs, Narragansett Beer, Newport Shipyard, Newport Tent Company, Rig Pro Southern Spars, Sailors Night Vision Caps, Sea Gear Uniforms, and Z Blok.

Ida Lewis Distance Race website