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Ida Lewis Distance Race plans modifications

by Barby MacGowan 13 Mar 19:30 GMT August 17-19, 2023
Last year's start of the Ida Lewis Distance Race © Stephen R. Cloutier

Ida Lewis Yacht Club will host the 19th sailing of the Ida Lewis Distance Race, one of New England's most popular overnight offshore races, from Thursday, August 17 through Saturday, August 19 with help from Bluenose Yacht Sales, which returns for a third year as Presenting Sponsor. The round-trip adventure starts and finishes off Newport, R.I. and this year promises tighter competition for its ever-growing fleet with more courses to ensure that every team sails for approximately 24 hours. (Classes start between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m. on Friday.)

"The plan is to add more PHRF and ORC classes for narrower rating bands in each," said Race Chair Anselm Richards. "As well, we will add course options so that the resulting groups of boats, no matter how fast or slow, will look to finish the race at or near the 24-hour mark on Saturday."

Richards explained that in the past, PHRF has been split into Aloha (rating band 55 and higher) and Coronet (54 and lower) classes. ORC typically has sailed as one class, as has the Double-Handed Division. (A Mixed Gender Two-Person class as well as Youth and Collegiate challenges are also included in the event.) Before the event, the Race Committee chooses the best course for each class based on expected weather conditions. Traditionally, those courses have been between 112 and 169 nautical miles in length and cover the storied sailing grounds of Narragansett Bay and Block Island Sound, reaching as far as Montauk, N.Y. when necessary.

"In some years, larger boats wound up finishing in the wee hours of Saturday morning while others finished throughout the day," said Richards. "By tweaking our game, we can make this event even more competitive and enjoyable for every team entered. It's a beautiful and manageable distance race that is neither too long nor too short, and it's enjoyed by veteran offshore sailors as well as those trying overnight sailing for the first time."

According to Bluenose Yacht Sales Managing Partner Glenn Walters, his company - a premier boat dealer, representing Jeanneau Sailboats and other top-tier brands - will have some skin in the game. "We appreciate the opportunity to again sponsor the Ida Lewis Distance Race in 2023," he said. "We know of at least three Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300s participating and are expecting more entries."

The Ida Lewis Distance Race, for boats 28 feet or longer, begins off Fort Adams and ends just inside Newport Harbor where Ida Lewis volunteers can sight the finish line from their clubhouse on Lime Rock before greeting each team on the water with a congratulatory bottle of Prosecco.

For the Notice of Race and more information, visit or contact Race Chair Anselm Richards, . Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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