New Double Handed Race Ends Long Island Sound Sailing Season

By Buttons Padin

Reflecting the increasing popularity of shorthanded sailboat racing, Larchmont Yacht Club and the Storm Trysail Club collaborated to create The Bitter Ender, a Long Island Sound season-closing doublehanded regatta to be sailed mid-October. The inaugural Bitter Ender was raced Friday night, October 13, starting and finishing off Larchmont Harbor.

Unique to The Bitter Ender is its starting “window” from 1500 to 1800, whereby each boat could determine its optimal start time considering current and the forecast winds. With an ebbing tide Friday afternoon, seven of eight boats competing chose to start within the first five minutes of the window opening with the final starter taking advantage of the available time for final boat prep.


Mother Nature served up spectacular conditions for the inaugural Bitter Ender.   © Doug Reynolds


The sailors competing in this year’s Bitter Ender were treated to spectacular conditions for the entire race. Expecting the winds to lighten after sunset, the Race Committee signaled the short course option, 62.2 nm from Larchmont to Norwalk to Port Jefferson and back. It was anticipated that boats would be finishing around sunrise. However, to the sailors’ delight, the northerly wind held allowing a close reach in 8-15 knots for leg one, a run across the Sound with puffs into the 20s, and a jib reach home. The first boat crossed the line at 2310 with the final one at 0045 much to the delight of the sailors…and the RC.

Finishing first on elapsed and corrected time was the Jeanneau Sunfast 3300 byte, a purpose-built doublehander owned by STC/American Yacht Club members Libby & Rob Alexander. Not knowing what the mid-October weather would be, Collin Alexander filled in for his mother much to her regret after the race’s spectacular conditions. “I loved the format. The starting window relieved some of the stress of a doublehanded start,” noted Rob Alexander. “This race was a current play and we had favorable current all the way to Norwalk. I’m coming back next year and will try to get other doublehanders to come, too.”


The father and son team of Rob and Collin Alexander brought their Jeanneau Sunfast 3300 byte home in first place.   © Doug Reynolds


Taking second aboard the J/99 Thin Man, another doublehanding-friendly design, were Todd Aven and Girard Gristl from STC/City Island Yacht Club. The third-place boat, however, Will Ingraham’s J/124 Tenebrae, is definitely not a typical doublehander. “Doublehanding is a lot of work,” Will noted. “I was lucky enough to sail with Rich du Moulin, a very experienced doublehander. One of the key things Rich taught me is to prepare well ahead for any sail changes, as they take a long longer than when you have a crew of eight onboard. By the finish, I was exhausted!”

PRO Mark Dailey summed up the first Bitter Ender noting, “Any new regatta comes with its share of unknowns and this one clearly did. We were thrilled that the mid-October weather cooperated so well and that everyone arrived back at the finish safely…and happy. We hope the success of this year’s Bitter Ender will attract more future entries in what we hope will be an ongoing season-ending race.” Results are posted at ■