Titan 15 Wins 64th Block Island Race
- May 29th, 2009
- in Yachting
Patience captures PHRF title; Skye turns in best performance in doublehanded class ARCHMONT, N.Y. (May 26, 2008) – Tom Hill’s brand new Custom Reichel/Pugh 75 Titan 15 took line honors on May 23 in the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race in a near-record time of 17 hours, 18 minutes and 13 seconds, and with that finish scored the overall victory in IRC. The 186 nautical mile race, in its 64th running, began Friday afternoon, May 22, and sent Titan 15 and 54 other IRC- and PHRF-rated boats off on a course from Stamford, Conn., down Long Island Sound, clockwise around Block Island (R.I.), and back.
“It was one of the greatest days of my life,” said Hill (San Juan, Puerto Rico), of winning the race with his Titan 15, and of the first chance to test the boat in racing conditions. “We’re totally satisfied with the boat. All the boats that posted a great time in this race have all been donated or rebuilt. Ours was being built at that time, so there was time to make some changes. For a year we didn’t know if we would wind up with a boat that wouldn’t be able to perform. We sweated it out for a year. It could have been a lemon or a speedboat.”
A Southwest breeze of 8-10 knots got the boats off to a quick downwind start and stayed consistent until the fleet got to Plum Island Gut. “At the start, I looked over my shoulder and we were even with Rambler!” said Hill. “How can our 75-footer match a water-ballasted, 90 footer? Four hours later and we’re still together. It’s unbelievable!
“We must have been neck and neck for a while,” continued Hill. “The wind was up to 21-22 knots, and we had the same boat speed. When the wind went up to 24 knots, I said we’re going to kiss Rambler goodbye. Lo and behold, we were sailing away. I’m not sure how that’s possible.”
Hill explained that as both boats headed toward Plum Island, Titan 15 stayed on a course to get through the Gut, while Rambler wound up stuck on the north side of the island. That was the changing moment of the race. “We were doing 17 knots,” said Hill. “They had nothing, no wind. We could see the top of her rig over the island, and they were just sitting there. That’s the last we saw them.”
From there, Titan 15 went around the north coast of Block Island, but when it rounded the top corner, the wind died down. “The water was like glass,” recalled Hill. “We were doing 7-8 knots of boat speed. It was totally quiet and we were flying.”
From there, it was a quick shot back through Plum Island Gut toward the finish line. “Peter Isler, our tactician, Artie Means and Mike Toppa did an exceptional job,” said Hill of the crew that included Ben Beer, Rome Kirby, Campbell Rivers, Wally Henry, Sam Loughborough, Peter Heck, Scotty Bradford, John Plume, Tad Sanchez, Jose Santiago, Ted Marvell, Larry Mialik, Matt Mialik, Jim Stone, Bo LeBlanc, Jim Alsopp And CT Olander.
With only one day of practice before the race and a day before that to work out all of the onboard systems, Hill could not contain his pleasure with Titan 15. “The boat performed perfectly,” he said. “There were huge grins on the boat, and these are guys with a lot of experience on America’s Cup boats, VO70s, and the like.”
The Block Island Race – the traditional start to the summer sailing season, held each Memorial Day Weekend – featured eight classes for IRC, PHRF and doublehanded entries with the smallest entry, Benoit and Victor Ansort’s (Old Greenwich, Conn.) Olson 30 Wave Dancer, and the largest entry, George David’s (Hartford, Conn.) 90-foot water-ballasted sloop Rambler, which won the 2005 Block Island Race.
Titan 15 had the fastest corrected time and finished first in IRC Zero class over John Brim’s (New York, N.Y.) Reichel/Pugh 55 Rima2, in second with Rambler, in third.
In order to take full advantage of the holiday weekend, organizers moved the starting time up by three hours. “The earlier start seemed to work out pretty well,” said Race Chair Ray Redniss. “It gave everyone a jump start on getting down the sound before sundown. The more separation you get down the shore, the better the breeze. We had more boats finishing earlier, in the late afternoon on Saturday, than in past years. Also, it allowed us to have the awards at 5pm on Sunday (May 24), which frees up Sunday night and all day Monday.”
A total 55 out of 60 entered boats completed the race. Richard Royce’s (Glen Cove, N.Y,) Tripp 33 Patience turned in best corrected and elapsed times for the PHRF fleet, earning Royce both the Terrapin and Governor’s Race East trophies for best corrected and best elapsed time PHRF. Best performance by a doublehanded boat went to Ty Anderson’s (Riverside, Conn.) Farr 395 Skye.
Other trophy winners were Rich DuMoulin’s (Larchmont, N.Y.) Express 37 Lora Ann for "best corrected time in IRC below 1.08 rating" and "best performance by a vintage yacht" and “best combined IRC scores in the Edlu and Block Island Races” known as The Tuna Trophy, and the Storm Trysail Club for "best team race performance" (Lora Ann / Leonard Sitar’s (Holmdel, N.J.) J/44 Vamp / James Sykes’ (New York, N.Y.) Santa Cruz 52 Bombardino).
The race record of 16 hours, 20 minutes and 50 seconds was established in 2002 by Boomerang, George Coumantaros’ Frers 80. Storm Trysail Club Past Commodore John Fisher, a crew member aboard Boomerang recalled that record. “It’s a great record and a great race,” said Fisher, who served on this year’s race committee. “Sooner or later it will belong to somebody else and I’m happy it still belongs to Mr. Coumantaros.”
Asked if the race record was ever on his mind, Hill admitted to thinking about it before the race started. That was until the team did the weather routing. “It’s a big boat and big boats will get the adverse current going out and back,” he said. “We had it, around 4-5 knots to battle, or we would have broken the record.”
Organizers of the East Coast’s standout races such as the distance race at New York Yacht Club’s Annual Regatta presented by Rolex, Storm Trysail Club’s Vineyard Race and the Ida Lewis Distance Race should take notice as Hill intends to enter his new speed machine in all of them.
The Block Island Race is part of the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series, the Northern Ocean Racing Trophy and the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy (both for IRC) and the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF). Specifically for Long Island Sound sailors, the Block Island Race is a qualifier for the Caper, Sagola and Windigo trophies awarded by the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound and the “Tuna Trophy” for the best IRC combined scores in the Block Island Race (weighted 60%) and Larchmont Yacht Club’s EDLU Race (weighted 40%).
About the Storm Trysail Club
The Storm Trysail Club, reflecting in its name the sail to which sailors must shorten when facing severe adverse conditions, is one of the world’s most respected sailing clubs, with its membership comprised strictly of skilled blue water and ocean racing sailors. In addition to hosting Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex in odd-numbered years, the club holds various prestigious offshore racing events (among them the annual Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race and the Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race); annual junior safety-at-sea seminars; and a regatta for college sailors using big boats.
For more information on the Storm Trysail Club and its events, including the Block Island Race, visit the official website www.stormtrysail.org.