NEWPORT, R.I. (August 13, 2017) -- The list of registrants for the annual Ida Lewis Distance Race is growing daily. Currently, 42 teams are signed up for the event’s 13th edition, scheduled for Friday, August 18. Ida Lewis Yacht Club has been hosting and running sailboat races all summer long, but this is its signature regatta, much adored by local sailors as well as those who travel here from across the region and the continent to compete.
“It’s always nice to do a short offshore race,” said John Gowell (East Greenwich, R.I./Jamestown, R.I.), a Bermuda Race veteran who counts this as his second time to do the Ida Lewis Distance Race and will skipper his Taylor 42 Temptress in PHRF Spinnaker Class. “This one is not too intense, it’s overnight, and it covers beautiful sailing grounds. The logistics are also easy; that’s a big attraction.”With turning marks at Castle Hill, Brenton Reef, Block Island, Montauk Point, Martha’s Vineyard and Buzzards Tower, the race course for the Ida Lewis Distance Race can be anywhere from 107 to 169 miles. The course is chosen on the day of the start and driven by the forecast conditions.
The race’s – and club’s – namesake is the heroic lighthouse keeper who saved many a life during her tenure at “Lime Rock” upon which Ida Lewis Yacht Club is famously perched in Newport Harbor. Ida Lewis often rowed a dory to rescue soldiers in peril on the water between the “rock” and the hard place of Fort Adams. Off Fort Adams is where the start is planned on Friday at 12:30, so spectators can take a lunch-hour break to catch the action. (Double-Handed Fleet starts first, followed by Multihulls at 12:45, PHRF at 1:00 and IRC at 1:15.)The finish is off the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, anywhere from 18 to 29 hours later, depending on the weather.
Defending champion in PHRF Spinnaker is Brian Cunha’s (Newport) Ker 55 Irie 2, while defending champion in PHRF Doublehanded is Adrian Little’s (Newport) Sunfast 3600Helios. An array of top sailors includes Newporter Tristan Mouligne, who just won the overall trophy in the Bermuda 1-2 race. He will sail his Quest 30 Samba in PHRF Spinnaker, while Ida Lewis Yacht Club Commodore Rob Connerney and his wife Pat will sail in PHRF Cruising Spinnaker Class aboard Hendrikus Wisker’s (Round Hill, Virginia) Swan 55Haerlem.IRC class will host an interesting mix of boats, from the United States Merchant Marine Academy’s Tripp 41 High Noon, skippered by Kenneth Luczynski (Kings Point, N.Y.), to the modified Volvo 70 Warrior, skippered by Stephen Murray, Jr. (Metairie, Louisiana). Three J/122s – Moxiee (Daniel Heun, Franklin, Mass.), Orion (Paul Milo, Leesburg, Virginia) andTarahumara (Jack Gregg, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania) – will make it interesting with their equally matched hulls. A total of 10 J boats are sailing in the event after Ida Lewis organizers reached out to participants competing in J/Fest New England, which precedes the distance race on Aug. 11-13. The Ida Lewis Distance Race includes Youth and Collegiate Challenges and is a qualifier for the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF) and the Northern and Double-Handed Ocean Racing Trophies (IRC). Top Trophies are The Russell L. Hoyt Memorial Trophy for best elapsed time in IRC division; The Commodore’s Trophy for best corrected time in IRC division; The Lois J. Muessel Memorial Trophy for best elapsed time in PHRF division; and The Lime Rock Trophy for best corrected time in PHRF division.