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10th Ida Lewis Distance Race

by Kirsten Ferguson 18 Aug 2014 20:18 BST 15 August 2014

Mother Nature packed an extra punch for the 10th Anniversary of the Ida Lewis Distance Race, with high winds (up to 25 knots) and rough seas challenging its record 47-boat fleet and forcing 12 to retire from racing.

Nevertheless, the popular overnighter, which started Friday (August 15) at 12:30 p.m. off Fort Adams in Newport, R.I., delivered lots of fun summer memories for its IRC, PHRF, Doublehanded and Multihull competitors (all racing on the 150 nautical mile "Block Island" course), including Steve Benjamin's Carkeek HP 40 Spookie, which won IRC and claimed line honours after crossing the finish line at 8:42 a.m. on Saturday (August 16).

"We enjoyed racing thoroughly," said Benjamin whose team of eight was awarded the Russell L. Hoyt Memorial Trophy for best elapsed time and the Commodore's Trophy for best corrected time (both in the IRC Division). "The winds were more or less as predicted, fairly strong, but the seas were rougher than usual. We have a technique onboard Spookie where we heel over to cut through the waves, which was very valuable in this particular race."

Benjamin added that the team gained a major lead after rounding the newly conceived "virtual mark" of the course, approximately 77 nautical miles into the race. Before that, Spookie was trying to catch up to Dave Lussier's F-31 trimaran Bazinga!, which took first place overall in the Multihull Division.

"We've been excited about this race all week and were determined to finish, and finishing ended up meaning winning," said Lussier, explaining that all others in his class retired. "This is the first time that this race has had multihulls competing, so it was mostly upwind and downwind legs and not much reaching, which is what our type of boat loves. Upwind, the monohulls beat us, and downwind we beat them."

When asked about his strategy, Lussier said, "I tend to reef before a lot of my friends do. These boats are really lightweight and powerful, so when it got really rough and windy at the Buzzards Bay mark, we put a reef in the main, which made it much more manageable."

The 37.65 nautical mile upwind leg from Buzzards Bay to Montauk Point proved tricky for the entire fleet, including Kevin McLaughlin's Farr 47 Crazy Horse, which won the race's separately scored Collegiate Challenge (representing Duquesne University) and took second place in PHRF, behind Tristan Mouligne's Quest 30 Samba (Samba was awarded the Lime Rock Trophy for best corrected time in the PHRF Division).

"It was quite a challenging leg for our entire team, but we got through it fine," said McLaughlin whose crew of seven included four college sailors. The team was awarded the William Tuthill Memorial Trophy for their win in the challenge, and also received the Lois J. Muessel Memorial Trophy for best elapsed time in PHRF class. "Overall, the team did an excellent job. With the exception of one, all the college kids we had onboard have done long distance races with us. Two of them did the Newport Bermuda Race on Crazy Horse earlier this year." (To qualify for the Collegiate Challenge, more than 40% of the crew had not turned 26 prior to August 15.)

Awarded the Arent H. Kits van Heyningen Trophy for winning the Youth Challenge (also separately scored) was Alfred Van Liew's team on the J/111 Odyssey. (To qualify for the Youth Challenge, more than 40% of the crew had reached their 14th birthday but not turned 20 prior to August 15.)

When asked what he thought were the determining factors in Odyssey's win, 17-year-old Trevor Davidson said, "Team chemistry and the fact that we were so comfortable and trusting in each other's judgment." Davidson was one of seven youth sailors onboard. "We also sailed really well at night. Between one and four o'clock in the morning is when everyone starts to drop off, but that was when we were at our best. We had four guys out on deck and we were doing ten knots with the kite up in 15 knots of breeze."

Van Liew and his friend Bob Goss made up the "adult" portion of the team. "The youth sailors we had with us were very competent," said Van Liew who has a number of offshore races under his belt. "Offshore racing calls for a different kind of sailing and teamwork than buoy racing. It's a matter of pacing yourself and trying to take care of yourself and your team. Everybody has multiple responsibilities, because you move around for watches."

Van Liew added that the Ida Lewis Distance Race is a fantastic stepping stone for the next generation of sailors interested in transitioning into longer offshore courses. "This is a star event and one I am going to put on the schedule for next year."

For a full list of Perpetual Trophy winners, visit

Starting Line Sponsors for the 2014 Ida Lewis Distance Race included the City of Newport, Helly Hansen, New England Boatworks, Marsh, Newport Shipyard and North Sails; Contributing Sponsors are DYT Yacht Transport, Goslings Rum, Rig Pro Southern Spars, Stella Artois, Flint Audio Video, Mac Designs, Sea Gear Uniforms, Toni Mills Graphic Design and Z Block.

The Ida Lewis Distance Race 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.

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