By Nick Bowen
The Twenty Hundred Club had their third race of the season on Saturday, July 17. This was also their first of two destination races. The Cuttyhunk Race starts just south of Rose Island near the “G3” buoy, takes the sailors about 4 nautical miles south to buoy “R2” at Brenton Reef. This mark is about 2 nm south of Castle Hill where the boats turn east for a 19.5 nm run across Rhode Island Sound and finish at buoy Middle Ground “RGN” just north of Cuttyhunk Island. The total distance for the race is 23.5 nm. There were five spinnaker boats and seven cruising class boats.
The forecast for the day was southeast winds at 5-10 knots. Low tide was at 7:06 AM, which meant the boats would have to fight an incoming tide all the way out to Brenton Reef. Shortly before the 10:30 AM start it looked like there would be less than five knots of wind. On top of low winds, crews had some thick fog to deal with. With extremely low winds, the start was delayed by 15 minutes when the cruising class was started.
The wind was so low and currents so strong that after nearly two hours the cruising class had barely made it to Fort Adams (less than half a mile from the starting line). Driven by getting a mooring in the always crowded Cuttyhunk Harbor, the first boat dropped out which set off a cascading set of boats dropping out of the race. Within minutes all seven cruising class boats had retired and were motoring towards Cuttyhunk.
It would be the three J boats, with PHRF ratings less than 96 (Spirit, Alliance, and MadBlue), that would be able to wiggle through the current and make it out to Brenton Reef where the sea breeze eventually filled in, and they would be the only boats that finished the race under sail.
This race marked the start of a new Youth Challenge for the club. Like many clubs in New England, the Twenty Hundred Club is facing an “aging problem.” Current skippers are aging, and young people are not joining. This problem is partly economic and partly just lack of access to keelboats for youth. Tim Grimes has taken on the mission for the Twenty Hundred Club to fix this problem. Tim was the perfect candidate for this position. He did not sail until after college when he joined a J/24 club in Boston and by age 30 he owned a Melges 24, trained a very competent crew and became one of the best performing boats in the Twenty Hundred Club fleet.
Tim succinctly described the problem when he said, “There are many exit ramps in sailing: after youth sailing, after high school, after college, but there are few on ramps.” Tim conceived the Youth Challenge where PHRF credit would be given to boats based on average age of the crew. For boats with an average age between 19 and 23 they would get five points, between 15 and 19 they get 10 points, and less than 15 they get 15 points. The winners for the Cuttyhunk Race were from the MudRatz out of Stonington, CT (mudratz.com) which runs a strong program dedicated to getting young kids into keelboats.
The club was able to secure several moorings in the inner harbor and enjoyed relaxing rafting after the race. After some cooling off in the water and dinner, they had an awards ceremony at Twenty Hundred Hours (8:00 PM) at the Cuttyhunk town dock. ■
Nick Bowen is the Commodore of the Twenty Hundred Club and races his Lyman-Morse e33 on Narragansett Bay. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Spirit, EC Helme
2. Alliance, Eric Irwin
3. MadBlue, MudRatz Youth Racing Team
4. Odyssey, David Broksky & Alfred Van Liew (DNF)
5. Celeritas, Malcolm Gefter (DNF)
Cruising Class (PHRF Base > 100)
1. Miss Molly, Gregg Morash (DNF)
2. Arigato, Thomas Gieseke (DNF)
3. Whalayed, John Whaley (DNF)
4. Pau Hana, David Wilson (DNF)
5. Kitty Hawk, Winthrop Sanford (DNF)
6. Blue Skies, Pat Tormey (DNF)
7. Serendipity, Gary Venable (DNF)