By Chad Corning aboard Argo
Editor’s note: Ninety boats competed in the 86th running of Stamford Yacht Club’s Vineyard Race on the weekend of September 4 – 6. Jason Carroll’s MOD70 trimaran Argo (New York, NY) set a new course record, breaking the one she set in 2018 by 4 minutes and 24 seconds. Finishing with an elapsed time of 14 hours, 53 minutes and 55 seconds, Argo topped the five-boat Multihull class and captured the Nina Trophy, which is awarded to the boat claiming line honors on the 238-nautical mile Vineyard Course.
The sailing world slowly came back to life late this summer after all the prior events of the season had been cancelled. A record fleet for the Ida Lewis Distance Race highlighted the pent up demand, and this carried over to the Vineyard Race, which had a robust fleet as well.
The forecast was for a mixed bag of local seabreeze followed by a moderate northerly kicked off by a small warm front passing over the course Friday night. This looked an OK forecast for us, though we would need to finish before dawn on Saturday to make the most of the breeze.
We had a good start and were off on starboard in a medium SW breeze. It was very much a VMG run out to the Gut, more so for us than others as our deepest true wind angle in these conditions is about 140. The pressure was up and down and we worked the Long Island shore as we got close to the Gut to get what we thought was the best pressure. Once out of the Gut the wind shifted slowly to the north, cold gusts telling us it was on the way. Once filled, it was a quick trip out to the light tower at the entrance to Buzzards Bay, with Block Island left to starboard.
We rounded at 21:18, a bit less than seven hours after the start. Some drama just as we reached the tower as we had a heavy impact with some debris which broke off the bottom half off the starboard t-rudder and broke one of the rods linking the steering system together. We managed to get the boat jibed over to starboard and decided to continue. We splinted the steering rod together and saw that the remains of the starboard rudder would be OK if we ever got back onto port. Luckily, it was starboard all the way back to Stamford.
We had a quick run to Block Island but the wind faltered as we approached the Gut. We stopped completely for a time and silently waved goodbye to any chance of bettering the course record set in 2018, as the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh forecast had very light winds featuring for the remainder of the race. Once back in the Sound, Mother Nature provided an upside surprise with up to 18 knots of northerly, which was 12 knots over the forecast. Hmmm…maybe the record? The last three hours were absolute hair on fire, with the ETA showing either a few minutes faster or a few minutes slower than record time. It was nip and tuck all the way but after pushing hard we crossed the finish at 04:18:55, which was four minutes and change better than the 2018 mark.
The Vineyard Race is always a fun challenge. I’ve forgotten more than I remember of my twenty-one trips around the tower, but I’ll certainly keep some space in the vault to remember this one! ■
A professional sailor, program manager, build manager and coach, Chad Corning is a two-time Melges 32 National Champion, two-time Viper 640 National Champion, Shields National Champion, and Melges 32 European Champion.