Dursey, a C&C 33 being raced by the Ornstein family.
© Mary Alice Fisher/maryalicefisher.com

Over the years, sailboat racing in Greenwich, Connecticut has been very popular. The competition is typically casual, particularly mid-week evening racing. And as important as the racing is, for many, the social aspect is equally critical. Following the racing, the Greenwich yacht clubs organize post-race gatherings so competitors can share stories of triumph and defeat.

Yet in the age of Covid-19, activities such as sailing have had to be curtailed. With restrictions hopefully starting to loosen, it’s appropriate to ask if competitive sailing can be done in a way that does not jeopardize the community. Our friends at Indian Harbor Yacht Club have responded by creating the Captain Islands Challenge. This event is unique in that instead of racing against other boats on the same course at the same time, competitors sail around a fixed course against the clock. This makes the competition more akin to a time trial. Competitors pick when to race. All they need is a boat and a watch.

The series consists of three races starting in mid-June and ending in late-September. Racing dates are chosen by the sailors, subject to certain restrictions. Competitors also choose whether to race in the double-handed class or fully crewed class, subject to any social distancing rules. Both classes are jib and main only, with spinnakers prohibited. The course has a fixed starting and finishing location and the race is around the three Captain Islands (twice in one direction, once in the opposite direction). Crews record their times and report them to Indian Harbor YC. The club then takes those times, adjusts them for each boat’s handicap and publishes the results. At the end of the season, each boat’s times are summed and the boats with the lowest handicap-adjusted times from each class are the winners.

Indian Harbor YC will monitor official health and governmental regulations and guidelines, and will not hesitate to suspend or cancel the series if conditions warrant. In the meantime, we hope the thought of getting outdoors and on the water gives racing sailors something to look forward to.

Sailors interested in competing in the Captain Islands Challenge are encouraged to check indianharboryc.org for updates. For more information, email the IHYC Regatta Committee at regatta@indianharboryc.comor call Waterfront Director Joel Labuzetta at 203.869.2484.