Light flukey winds and strong currents prove challenging.



Light, streaky southeasterly winds and strong currents offered up challenging conditions for the opening day of Premiere Racing’s Block Island Race Week today. Despite the flukey breeze and an intensely-competitive fleet, boats in seven out of the 12 classes racing recorded twin victories in the two races sailed.

The strongest performance of the day came from the Farr 40 one design class, where John Thomson from Sands Point, NY recorded a first and a second place after breaking the start of both races. Thomson and his veteran crew returned to restart both races and worked their way back to the front of the class on the short, crowded, twice around windward-leeward courses. The 134 boats in the fleet sailed on two separate courses on Block Island Sound.

The double winners included South Africa’s David Horwitz, sailing the Farr 47 Seagoon in the IMS Class and Newport, RI’s Bob Johnstone racing his new J/125 Wings of the Wind in PHRF1. In the Mumm 30 Class Chris Doscher and Mark Ploch, from Clearwater, FL, scored two bullets, as did Woody and Peter Bergendahl, from Ludlow, VT, in their J/29 Tomahawk . Other twin winners were Roger Widmann, from Larchmont, NY, sailing the CS 40 Quntessence in PHRF4, Hijan Rasadi, from Groton, CT, skippering the C&C30 Anticipation in PHRF7 and Bruce Lockwood with the J/36 Arrow, from Ludlow, Vermont in the Cruising Canvas Class.

“This was the most difficult day I’ve ever had on the water as a race officer,” said Race Chairman Peter Craig. The variations in wind speed and velocity, plus the strong current made it extremely difficult to provide square starting lines.”

At one point in a delayed starting sequence, the Division I committee boat was pushed in a complete circlle by wind and current as the race team struggled to begin the racing. One measure of the difficulties encountered by committee and racers was the number of shots fired from the Division I committee boat — 47 shells expended on postponements, restarts, and boats that were over early, when normally only 26 would be fired.

Thomson modestly dismissed his winning performance as “large doses of luck throughout an entire day of racing.” He added. “We had good flat water and plenty of shifts providing us with good opportunities to come from behind.” The father and son team of skipper Bill Ziegler III and helmsman William T Zielger in Gem, are in second place in the Farr 40 Class, with Australia’s John Calvert Jones, racing Southern Star in third

Bob Johnstone’s high-tech light displacement flyer J/125 Wings of the Wind made an impressive debut performance, winning both races convincingly. Launched only three days before race week started, she was tuned up on the short delivery voyage from Newport.

Race Week favorites Mount Gay Rum and Yachting Magazine are onboard in the capacity of Official Day Sponsors. Douglas Gill USA is the Official Foul Weather Gear, Grand Banks Yachts is the Official Committee Boat and Teton Glacier Vodka is the Official Vodka for Race Week. Premiere Racing also