“No sailing resumé is complete without the Vineyard Race.” – Jay Keeshan, Vineyard Race Co-Chair
Stamford Yacht Club’s Vineyard Race is a classic American yachting event. Begun in 1932, this Labor Day weekend classic has attracted the finest sailors and fastest boats for generations. The 238-mile course stretches from Shippan Point in Stamford, CT to the light tower at the entrance to Buzzards Bay, and then returns to the finish in Stamford Harbor. Those who are successful nearly always credit local knowledge of these tricky waters and a good deal of luck. The saltiest sailors, who have completed ten or more Vineyard Races, have earned entrance into The Buzzard Society.
The Vineyard Race was mentioned in Yachting Magazine: “The greatest distance races of the world have several things in common – a challenging course, competitive fleets and an interesting array of famous yachts. By those standards, the Stamford Yacht Club’s Vineyard Race rates close to the top. Like a miniature Fastnet, the Vineyard has a combination of coastal cruising, where currents play a big role, a stretch of ocean sailing, and a mark to round – the Buzzards Bay tower – before returning.”
In many ways, the Vineyard Race is several races in one. Competitors must navigate Long Island Sound before passing into Block Island Sound through one of several narrow passages where there are tough tidal currents. After rounding the tower they must leave Block Island to starboard before heading back into the Sound. A typical race involves a variety of conditions. There are also two shorter courses, allowing less-experienced sailors to participate while staying inside Long Island Sound.
Jay Keeshan, Vineyard Race Co-Chair, has been involved with the Vineyard Race for fifteen years. “We have a great committee that takes a lot of pride in running this race to the best of our ability, and we treat it like a crown jewel of the Stamford Yacht Club,” he said. “One of the best-known features of the race is the epic awards party on the Club lawn on Sunday evening. Sometimes I wonder if people are doing the race just so they can attend the party!”
The Vineyard Race is also the final race of the Northern Ocean Racing Trophy series, the New England Lighthouse Series, and the Doublehanded Ocean Racing Trophy series. The outright record for the 238nm Vineyard Course was set in 2020 by Argo, the MOD 70 trimaran owned by Jason Carroll of Larchmont, NY with an elapsed time of 14 hours, 53 minutes, and 55 seconds. The fastest time by a monohull was set by the U.S Merchant Marine Academy Foundation’s Volvo 70 Warrior in 2017. Skippered by Stephen Murray, Jr., Warrior covered the course in 17 hours, 42 minutes and 9 seconds.
The Vineyard Race has been held every year since its founding except for three years during World War II. Sponsors for the 88th running include North Sails, West Marine, Mount Gay Rum, Team One Newport, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Hinckley Yachts, Half Full, Regatta Craft Mixers, BMW, The Moorings, and the British Virgin Islands. For more information and to register, log onto stamfordyc.com/Sailing/Vineyard_Race_(1). ■