By Nick Bowen
The Twenty Hundred Club had their fifth race of the season on Saturday, August 29. Prince Henry was the Portuguese explorer Dom Henrique who lived from 1394 to 1460. He pioneered Portugal’s early maritime expansion. His first capture was Maderia, about 400 miles east of Morocco that he sought shelter on when he was blown off course in 1418. He would also oversee the settxlement of the Azores. But it would be three centuries until he was given the nickname “Prince Henry the Navigator” in the nineteenth century by a German historian.
The Twenty Hundred Club picked Henry as the moniker because they designed a race that was like, well, exploring the bay for the first time. First, the race has seven different starting areas around the bay: East Greenwich, Barrington, Bristol, Wickford, Newport, Warwick, and Portsmouth. Second, the start is called “fisherman” style. The boat is at anchor with the sails down and the crew down below. At the 9:00 starting gun (a radio broadcast that needs to be heard from Barrington to Newport) the crew scrambles to the deck, hoists the anchor and sails and is off. Each starting area has a set first mark (the Newport starts at G “3” near Rose Island and their first mark is G “11” at the Dumplings. But after that mark it is “pick your own race course.” There are 27 government buoys that the sailors can use as turning marks. The sailing instructions define 51 segments between the 27 marks and assign a mileage value for each segment. The goal is straightforward – log the most miles. In one of the most unorthodox rules in racing, boats are allowed to use their engines for a total of 30 minutes during the day. This is generally used to meet the incoming seabreeze a few minutes early. Finally, you must finish between 15:00 and 16:00 hours. Finishing after 15:30 you will incur a slight time penalty and finishing 1 second after 16:00 gets you disqualified.
There were ten boats that competed in two classes. There were seven spinnaker boats and three cruising class boats.
The forecast for the day was for north-north-east winds at 12 knots all day. High tide was at 5:56 AM and 12:51PM. The tide and winds set the strategy and favors certain starting areas. These conditions favored Newport since you could at least ride the current up the bay and then turn south when the tide changes.
Tom Gieske’s C&C 41 Arigato won the spinnaker class with a total of 38.2 nautical miles (nm) sailed (adjusted to 43.99 nm). He started in Newport and immediately turned north and went all the up the bay to R “8”, a third of a mile west of Patience Island. He then turned south as the tide changed and reached south to the finish line
Nick Bowen’s epiphany won the cruising class with a total of 37.03 miles sailed (adjusted to 40.32 nm). He chose the exact opposite course of Arigato – he headed south to RW “NB” RACON about 4 nm south of Beavertail. He chose to fight the tides all day because he was concerned that the actual winds were more north than east and would require some tacking – the deadliest sin for the Prince Henry Race.
To learn more about the Twenty Hundred Club and join our next race, visit twentyhundredclub.org. ■
Nick Bowen is the Commodore of the Twenty Hundred Club and races his Lyman-Morse e33 on Narragansett Bay. He can be reached at email@example.com.