For more than a decade, grand prix sailors and racing/cruising enthusiasts have sailed to Newport, R.I., to compete in the Ida Lewis Distance Race and on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, the tradition will continue with another year of “just-right” overnight racing planned for the waters of Narragansett Bay and Block Island Sound. Depending on weather and wind conditions, organizers can choose to send IRC, PHRF, One Design, Multihull and Double-Handed boats of 28 feet or longer on one of four coastal round-trip race courses, ranging from between 104 and 177 nautical miles in distance.
Co-chair Skip Helme said the race is popular because “it’s not too long, not too short.” This is especially important for teams that might be trying offshore sailing for the first time. “It’s a way to experience world-class offshore racing without having to beat yourself up, and for many teams, it’s a matter of navigating mostly-familiar waters.”
Organizers have also encouraged a new generation of sailors to try distance racing on for size through the separately scored Youth and Collegiate Challenges. Seven teams in last year’s record 47-boat fleet participated in one or the other of these challenges last year.
To qualify for the Youth Challenge, more than 40 percent of the crew must have reached their 14th birthday but not turned 20 prior to Aug. 14, 2015. Teams are encouraged to register under the burgee of a US Sailing yacht club or community sailing program.
Lime Rock in Newport, home to the historic Ida Lewis Yacht Club.
Ida Lewis Yacht Club
Last year, Kevin McLaughlin’s Farr 47 Crazy Horse (representing Duquesne University) won the Collegiate Challenge, which similarly required that more than 40 percent of the crew must not have reached the age of 26 by Aug. 15, 2014. Collegiate teams also are encouraged to register under the burgee of a college sailing program, a US Sailing yacht club or community sailing program.
For the first time this year, the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and Bristol Yacht Club have joined forces to create the Rhode Island Offshore Challenge Trophy. This perpetual trophy (to be crafted and donated by GMT Composites), will be presented to the boat with the best combined score in the Ida Lewis Distance Race and the Sid Clark Offshore Race (Bristol Yacht Club), scheduled for July 10, and featuring a variety of courses ranging in length from 75 to 160 miles.
The Ida Lewis Distance Race also is a qualifier for the New England Lighthouse Series (PHRF); the Northern and Double-Handed Ocean Racing Trophies (IRC); and the US-IRC Gulf Stream Series. For more information visit www.ILdistancerace.org