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Ida Lewis Distance Race: Popular overnight sailboat race set for August

by Barby MacGowan 22 Apr 2017 21:26 BST 18-19 August 2017
The 2016 Ida Lewis Distance Race fleet heads past The Dumplings in Narragansett Bay © Cate Brown

The 13th edition of the Ida Lewis Distance Race is scheduled to start on Friday, August 18, 2017, promising once again to deliver an exciting late-season topper to a busy summer of competitive racing on Narragansett Bay. Classes for IRC, PHRF, One Design, Multihull and Double-Handed insure that everyone (with a qualifying boat of 28 feet or longer) has a place to fit in.

One doesn't have to have a highly trained, expert team to make a splash at this event; although, there are plenty of these on the scratch sheet each year. This race is more about fun than fierce competition; youth teams, collegiate teams, and even low-key teams sailing Cruising Spinnaker are encouraged to compete, and there are special trophies for them to chase.

"I love doing this race," said last year's winner of Cruising Spinnaker Class Matthew Pilon of Houston, Texas. "The information was well organized, the updates on what was happening were great, and of course the finish is so fun, with champagne delivered to you on the water when you've completed the course." Pilon sailed his Oyster 54 Liberty Call with help from his wife Priscilla and son Phil. He felt the course was not too long but still challenging enough. "Going around Block Island makes for an interesting race."

The Ida Lewis Distance Race organizers choose the course beforehand based on the weather and wind forecast. It can be anywhere between 104 and 177 nautical miles and always requires overnight sailing. The fleet starts on Friday at 1 p.m. just outside Newport Harbor and a gets a scenic eyeful as it passes by several iconic turning marks, including Castle Hill, Brenton Reef, Montauk Point, Martha's Vineyard and Buzzards Bay Tower. Some of the faster boats can be home in the early morning hours of Saturday.

Registration just opened and the scratch sheet is beginning to fill out: in IRC, Daniel Heun of Franklin, Mass. will skipper his J/122 Moxie; in PHRF Spinnaker, perennial favourite Tristan Mouligne of Middletown, R.I. will return with his Quest 30 Samba; and in Double-Handed, Adrian Little of Newport will defend his 2016 victory with his Sunfast 3600 Helios.


Gold sponsor for the 2017 Ida Lewis Distance Race is New England Boatworks. Silver sponsors are Bluewater Technologies, Helly Hansen, and Newport Shipyard; Bronze sponsors are North Sails, Rig Pro Southern Spars, and Stella Artois. Contributing Sponsors are DYT Yacht Transport, Flint Audio & Video, Goslings Rum, Mac Designs, Toni Mills Graphic Design, and Triton Insurance.

For more information on the Ida Lewis Distance Race, visit or contact Pat Kennedy, .

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