A breezy race around Fishers Island capped by a party for 300 smiling sailors successfully wrapped up the Island Cup series last weekend.
Hosted by Fishers Island Yacht Club (FIYC), the 15-mile 57th annual ’Round Island Race on Aug. 31 drew 78 boats, including American Eagle, a classic 12-meter America’s Cup design that towered over the fleet.
Boats in 10 classes raced clockwise around, with starts beginning at 10:05 a.m., just north of West Harbor, and finishing there 2¼ to 3½ hours later.
Camaraderie and sailing stories were plentiful under and around a large tent on the clubhouse lawn, where sailors gathered afterward. “Sometimes we call it the architecture tour,” Nancy Bates of Stonington said of the race in which she crewed on her husband George’s Ensign. Her comment was in reference to the many picturesque island homes visible from the water. Fishers is part of New York, despite being closer to Connecticut.
“It was a good race with a good breeze,” said Carl Fast of Noank, whose Santana 30-30, Looney Tunes, was a big winner. “And at least the wind was from one direction today,” his wife, Val, added.
In earlier Island Cup events, a Masons Island Yacht Club Regatta on Aug. 24 was delayed by a capricious then missing breeze, while the Ram Island Yacht Club 68th annual Invitational Race on Aug. 18 was shortened due to light winds and strong currents.
The duPonts — Michael from Redding, Conn., Thomas of Belleair, Fla., and Reynolds “Chip” Jr. from Fishers Island — described how racing the chartered American Eagle with 10 friends and three professional crew aboard was “a privilege” and “very special.” Their father, Reynolds, headed the Aurora Syndicate that commissioned Bill Luders to design and build the red-hulled boat as a contender for the 1964 America’s Cup defense. American Eagle won the observation trials; however her rival, Constellation, secured the right to defend the cup, easily beating the British challenger, Sovereign.
American Eagle was named for a ship of the same name that brought the duPont forbears from France to the U.S. in 1800.
“There were a lot of good vibes on that boat,” said Tommy duPont, who was at the helm for the race. “The boat is so powerful. It takes some time to get her going. But don’t try to put on the brakes.”
“People were in awe of the 12-meter coming up behind them,” said Greg Gilmartin, who shared the event’s Principal Race Officer duties with Frank Murphy. Gilmartin said the south to southwest breeze ranged from 6 to 12 knots, mostly in the upper range. As usual, seas were confused and rough in the area of the Race at the island’s west end, making for exciting Race Point Nun roundings.
The crew aboard Goose, the winning Watch Hill 15, talked about how the lead in that one-design fleet traded between Bob Audette’s boat and Bruce Avery’s Bahama Gal. Audette, who was at the helm, and Lisa Horrigan, of West Thompson, Conn., had Tom Kintz of Westerly and Adam Paquin of Putnam, Conn., aboard as crew.
“We worked so hard all the way down the back side of the island,” lamented Avery, of Noank, who sailed with Sher Hertzler Pfund and Chuck Delamater of Weekapaug. Bahama Gal was “30 seconds behind the winner after two and a half hours of racing.”
Eight-year-old Dylan Flack of Stonington proclaimed that the J-70 upon which he and his sister, Lily, were crewing, and sometimes driving, with their dad and mom, Brandon and Cindy, was “a lot faster” than his Opti.
Mark Steinmetz of Pawcatuck and crew were disappointed to make it only as far as the North Hill Bell before being forced back to the harbor with a broken main halyard on Bill Reed’s IOD, Golf.
Having earlier in the week lost his wife, Lisa, a past development officer at Mystic Seaport, Reed had insisted the mainlanders race without him. Sailing with Steinmetz were Mac Cooper and Jeff Curtin of Westerly, Steve Steadman of Pawcatuck, and Tom Greene of Charlestown.
Eight of the FIYC fleet of graceful 33-foot International One Designs turned out for the race.
“It was a good Hooligan day for us,” said my Pawcatuck neighbor, Kurt Cramer, who’d helped race Peter Brinkerhoff’s dark green Evelyn 42, Hooligan, to second in her class with a crew that included Greg Lane, Tim Porter, Bill Huckle and Linda Cavanaugh of Mystic, Jim Hansen from Groton Long Point, John Roberts of Lyme, Conn., and George Cochran and his son Doug of East Greenwich.
When it came time for the awards, FIYC Commodore Colin Cashel first led a moment of silence in memory of Lisa Reed, noting that she had been a FIYC governor.
Co-PRO Murphy presented the event’s Wilkinson Trophy for the fastest corrected time of any boat to Rich Magner’s Catalina 22, SeTherin, which finished the race in 3 hours 16 minutes and 24 seconds, a time that corrected out to 2 hours, 36 minutes and 30 seconds.
Magner was racing with his son, Seth (combine that with daughter Erin to get SeTherin) and Brian Brousseau of Noank.
Murphy called the Life Star helicopter pilot from Glastonbury, Conn., “an excellent sailboat racer who always has a good attitude and new sails.” The trophy is named in memory of Donald “Donzo” Wilkinson, a Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association founding member who died as a result of an accident during the 2010 ‘Round Island Race.
The award for the top FIYC boat — the Commodore David F. Harris Trophy — went to Geordie Loveday of Fishers Island, skipper of Jolly Mon, a C&C Redwing 30 built in 1968.
’Round Island Race winners, announced by Jolly Mon co-owner Sara Porter, were as follows:
Ensigns (six boats): Robin Durrschmidt, Vernon, Conn., Magic, first; Ward Woodruff, Niantic, Conn., Nightwind, second; George Bates, Stonington, Bonanza, third.
IODs (eight): Charlton Rugg, Norwegian Wood, first; Charlie Van Voorhis, Jester, second; Chris Finan, Creole, third.
Watch Hill 15s (six): Audette, Goose, first; Avery, Bahama Gal, second; Scott Schneider, Watch Hill, Hi Toots, third.
Class F (eight): Magner, SeTherin, first; Loveday, Jolly Mon, second; Neal S. O’Connell, Niantic, Conn., Checkered Demon, Holland CSTM T/2, third.
Class G (10): Deb and Larry Hennessy, Middlefield, Conn., Scorpion, Evelyn 32, first; Prescott Littlefield, Lyme, Conn., Zig Zag Zoom, J-29, second; Dave Dickerson, Niantic, Conn., Lindy, Peterson 38, third.
Class H (nine): Jim Ohlheiser, Canton, Conn., Balance, J-109, first; Chris and Vicki Field, Noank, Leda, Melges 24, second; Woody Bergendahl, Noank, Ripcord, Melges 24, third.
J-70s (five): Rod Johnstone, Stonington, Ragtime, first; Flack, Honey Pi, second; Colin Cashel, Fishers Island, Glide, third.
Class R (eight): Bruce Kuryla, Milford, Conn., Secret, Nelson Marek 42, first; Brinkerhoff, Fishers Island, Hooligan, second; duPonts, American Eagle, third.
Class T (10): Fasts, Looney Tunes, first; Jon Bawabe, Columbia, Conn., 2nd Chance, C&C 35, second; John Brosseau, Niantic Bay Yacht Club, Altered States, S2 10.3, third.
Class U non-spinnaker (eight): Mark Salerno, Duck Island Yacht Club commodore, Westbrook, Conn., Fusion, Tripp 37, first; Bill Drinkuth, Amston, Conn., Watercolors, Morgan 28, second; Vito Addabbo, Niantic, Conn., Terrain Avoidance, Cal 39, third.
Island Cup Winners
Based on results of the three Island Cup races — RIYC Aug. 18, MIYC Aug. 24 and FIYC Aug. 31 — winners were announced by chairperson Toby Halsey of Mystic Aug. 31 at FIYC as follows:
Non-spinnaker: Drinkuth, Watercolors, first; Addabbo, Terrain Avoidance, second; William St. John, Southbury, Conn., Irish Lady, Ranger 26, third.
Boats needed to have raced in all three events to be eligible for awards.
One hundred and 22 boats are registered for next weekend’s 76th Off Soundings Fall Series. “It’s certainly a good number of boats,” said Greg Gilmartin, PRO and race committee chairperson for the event. “This is one of the largest regattas on the East coast, especially for just a two-day event,” he added.
Multihulls, speedsters and racer cruisers from 24 to 60 feet will begin a starting sequence Friday at 9:55 a.m. off New London, with the race committee on Henry B. duPont IV’s 60-foot William Hand motorsailer, Nor’easter, and various support boats.
Boats will race to Greenport on Long Island, then on Saturday on Gardiners Bay, with post-race rendezvouses at Shelter Island Yacht Club.
Labor Day Race
A good call by his son, Ken, put Scott Schnieder’s boat Hi Toots in an enviable position for Watch Hill Yacht Club’s Labor Day Race Monday.
“Ken said the pin was favored; everyone else went to the committee boat end of the starting line,” the skipper from Watch Hill explained. “We had a gigantic lead and an even bigger lead by the next mark,” he added.
Then a “drastic wind change” changed everything.
Bruce Avery of Noank took over the lead and ultimately won the shortened race on Bahama Gal, with a crew of Sher Hertzel Pfund of Weekapaug, Grace Vincens of Watch Hill and Randy Shore of Newport.
Schneider’s Hi Toots was second, finishing 5 seconds ahead of Tsana, owned by Bill Lester of Weekapaug, which was third.
A dozen boats raced near the outer breakwater. Thunderstorm forecasts caused the race to be shortened and two August Series races to be cancelled.
In Wednesday evening’s WH15 race, Avery’s Bahama Gal again was the winner, with crewing by Jim Frazier of Matunuck and Chuck Delamater of Weekapaug. Bob Audette’s boat Goose placed second, with Kearsley Lloyd of Shelter Harbor at the helm. Schneider was third on Hi Toots.
Starting this week, Wednesday night races will begin at 5:30.
Mudheads close season
No one from the Mystic River Mudhead Sailing Association can remember a season with no race cancellations or abandonments. For the Donzo Wednesday-night series to complete 16 races was extraordinary. As was the club’s final race Wednesday night.
“What a way to go out,” marveled Bill Canning of Mystic, whose Melges 32, Wild Horses, took yet another first in class. “Hitting 11 knots on the runs kind of topped the season off for the Horses team,” he said, congratulating Gilmartin and the race committee on “the best Wednesday-night series ever.”
Thirty-five boats enjoyed a 5½-mile race in 7 to 13 knots of westerly wind.
Class One (seven boats): Ted Parker, Groton, Sans Souci, Ensign, first; Magner, SeTherin, second; Andreas Fesenmeyer, Ashford, Conn., Cosmic Debris, Kiwi 22, third.
Class Two (five): Jeff Pritchard, Mystic, and Jack Scaduto, Salem, Conn., Blind Monkey, J-22, first; Reichart, Ursa Minor, second; Jonathan Wenderoth, Mystic, Dragin’ Z Balz, J-24, third.
Class Three (five): Bill Loweth, Noank, and David Strang, NYC, Brer Rabbit III, C&C 33, first; Matt Champney, Mystic, Defiant, C&C 36, second; Prescott Littlefield, Lyme, Conn. Zig Zag Zoom, J-29, third.
Class Four (six): Andy Stoddard, Mystic, and Matt Jadamec, Groton, Smilin’ Bob, Viper 640, first; Kevin Farrar, Mystic, Pithy, GP 26, second; Art Shaw, Mystic, Red Line, Viper 640, third.
Class Five (seven): Bob Rodgers, Stonington, Ringle, Strahlman 46, first; Jack Rodgers, Groton Long Point, Don Quixote, J-120, second; Pat Dillon, Mystic, Quantum Leap, Quest 30, third.
Class Six (five): Canning, Wild Horses, first; Hugh McLean, South Windsor, Conn., Shearwater, J-109, second; Ohlheiser, Balance, third.
Rodney Johnstone of Stonington smoked two J-24s in his J-70 Ragtime in Stonington Harbor Yacht Club’s (SHYC) final Friday evening PFRF race of the season Aug. 30.
Solvej Freitas was second on Fast Forward and Paul O’Neill of Pawcatuck was third on Cabochon.
Last Sunday, Freitas was first on Fast Forward and Barnaby Blatch was second on Blue Max in the last of three J-24 “long races.” Freitas placed first for the season and, despite missing the third event, O’Neill was second. Blue Max, with various skippers, took third.
Five J-24s and seven Ideal 18s waited in vain for the fog to clear Monday morning for SHYC’s annual Ironman single-handed regatta. Just before 11 a.m., after an hour’s postponement, the race committee called the race. It was reset for Sept. 22.
SHYC’s fall frostbite series, raced mostly by Lasers and Ideal 18s, begins Saturday
Helen Jankoski lives in Pawcatuck and may be reached at 860-599-3014.