John Donovan’s J/111 Libertas (Southport, CT) is a winner of the Terrapin Trophy, which is awarded to the first place boat in the Block Island Race’s PHRF fleet. Photo courtesy of Rick Bannerot/

Registration for the 75th running of the Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race now open, and the Notice of Race is posted at Yachtscoring – Block Island Race NoR. The 186-nautical mile race, from Stamford, CT around Block Island and back to Stamford, is scheduled to start Friday, May 22.

“Just like classic race boats sometimes need to be optimized for better performance, we really wanted to update the 75th running of this annual race to encourage maximum participation,” said Ray Redniss, Storm Trysail Club Rear Commodore and Block Island Race Principal Race Officer and Event Co-Chair. “For the 75th edition we will use YB Tracking for the first time. Navigators and race fans both love this feature. In another innovation for this year, double-handed entries will start and race with their fully crewed classmates, just like the Rolex Fastnet Race. This gives them an opportunity to compete for class silver as well as against each other for double-handed podium spots.”

“Additionally, within the double-handed entries there will be a trophy for the top mixed-gender team,” Redniss continued. “This nods to the new Mixed Two Person Keelboat Offshore discipline slated for the 2024 Olympic Games. Note that we have adopted US Sailing Safety Equipment Requirements USSER “Coastal” plus a raft as the safety standards for the BI Course. These are very close to those used in the past, but we are trying to standardize sets of regulations, particularly when boats are preparing for the Bermuda Race. We will soon be announcing details about our expanded pre- and post-race parties and awards events. And if that wasn’t enough, we also have a nifty new logo!”

Perhaps most importantly, the race will feature combined ORC/IRC scoring in the same methodology being used for the World Sailing ORC/IRC Championships in September. Under this system, each boat’s elapsed time will be corrected under ORC and IRC and those corrected times will be averaged to produce the boat’s score. That event, run by the New York Yacht Club in Newport, is a rare opportunity for U.S. racer/cruisers to compete for a Worlds in home waters. NYYC will also use this combined scoring in all of their events this summer. To facilitate this system, complimentary ORC club certificates will be made available to boats that hold valid IRC or ORR certificates and which have not held a valid ORC certificate in the last five years.

STC Commodore AJ Evans describes the thinking behind choosing the new ORC/IRC system: “Class size dilution from race organizers offering too many rules has become a real problem. We think that using combined scoring will lay the groundwork for STC – as one of the most influential clubs in the international sailing community, along with other important race organizers on the East Coast – to streamline VPP rule and class options for 2021. It might seem counterintuitive to utilize two rules when competitors tell us they want only one, but it is our expectation by the end of 2020 that boat owners will be in a better position to see how their boats actually fare under one rule compared to the other and how each is used in practice by race committees. We also hope that our use of combined scoring will encourage more participation in the Block Island Race and NYYC events given the similarities in ratings and scoring.”

Event Co-Chair Doug Lynn encourages all entrants and prospective entrants to read the NoR carefully, as significant changes have been made to improve safety standards for boats (NoR 1.4) and crews (NoR 15). “With more than 100 days to go [as this issue went to press], it is easy for all to comply with a requirement which may well save a life!” said Lynn. “The links in the NoR and those found on the Storm Trysail Club website, as well as that of US Sailing, offer many options for you and your crew wherever they may be. These events often sell out, so please be sure to register early.”

The Block Island Race is a qualifier for the Northern Ocean Racing Trophy, the Double Handed Ocean Racing Trophy, and the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF – For more details, consult the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound Handbook or the Stamford Yacht Club website). The Block Island Race is also a qualifier for the De Coursey Fales, Sagola and Windigo Trophies, the du Moulin Cup for Double Handed Racing, and the Youth Challenge Cup awarded by the YRALIS, as well as the Storm Trysail Club “Tuna Trophy” for the best IRC combined scores in the Edlu Race (40%) and the Block Island Race (60%). ■

Ron Weiss, Chair of the Storm Trysail Club Sponsorship and Communications Committee, contributed to this report.