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Hungry for overnighters, sailors target Ida Lewis Distance Race in August

by Barby MacGowan 13 May 19:06 BST August 16-17, 2024
Eric Irwin's (Newport, R.I.) J/122 Alliance will return for its third Ida Lewis Distance Race © Stephen Cloutier

With Memorial Day Weekend just around the corner, sailors are prepping for a busy race season on Narragansett Bay.

And while the Ida Lewis Distance Race, scheduled for August 16-17 and presented by Bluenose Yacht Sales, might be the last sailing competition in some summer lineups, it certainly isn't the least notable. For 19 editions it has consistently proven itself as a rigorous yet gratifying overnight contest that necessitates practiced teamwork for the best results.

"Last year's race was particularly memorable given the stronger winds and was a test of offshore readiness for every team," said Eric Irwin (Newport, R.I.) whose team aboard the J/122 Alliance will count this as its third Ida Lewis Distance Race. "Since the New York Yacht Club is hosting the ORC Worlds (which includes two distance races) at the end of September, this year's Ida Lewis race provides a great work-up for the crew to include the navigation and strategy challenges that occur in the vicinity of Rhode Island Sound."

The Ida Lewis Race Committee will select individual courses between 129 and 230 nautical miles for ORC, PHRF and PHRF Doublehanded Classes based on the weather and sea state forecasts and the handicap range of each class. After starting in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay (off Jamestown on Friday, August 16 at 1100), the teams must navigate around government and other marks located in and around Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound, Rhode Island Sound, Long Island Sound and the waters south of western Long Island before returning to a finish off Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport.

"For the 2023 race, we added a second ORC class and a third in PHRF, resulting in tightening the bands and thus providing stiffer competition," said Event Chair Anselm Richards. "We'll do that all again and, also like last time, add more new courses. Some will have extra reaching legs, so that we have plenty of options for insuring as best we can that each class gets a 24-hour race."

Both veteran and newcomers embraced the 2023 efforts to fine-tune the Ida Lewis Distance Race. "It was a great introduction to longer overnight races, and I can't say enough about the format!" said Matthew Jörgensen (East Lyme, Conn.), owner of the Wiggers Peterson 37 Valour. "My crew learned a lot, and for sure we are making this one of the major targets for our 2024 season."

Back for its second Ida Lewis Distance Race, Jim Coggeshall's (Dartmouth, Mass.) J/121 team aboard Ceilidh will use the event for some follow-up fun to this year's Newport to Bermuda Race in late June. But first, the team will compete in the New Bedford Yacht Club's annual 110-mile Whaler's Race in early June. "The Whaler's race is a great tune-up for the Ida Lewis Race as both Block Island and the Buzzards Bay Tower are turning marks," said Coggeshall. "The Ida Lewis Distance Race is a great opportunity to get crews out to practice on an overnight race. We invite any Narragansett Bay boats to join us."

The event is open to boats no smaller than 28 feet and makes a provision for One-Design classes to be added if six or more boats of one kind register.

Presenting Sponsor Bluenose Yacht Sales has created a special charter package for its Sun Fast 3300 to encourage new entries, especially in the event's Doublehanded Class.

Visit here to learn more about SF3300 Race Charters or contact Jonathan Banks at (401) 855-0416, .

Ida Lewis Distance Race Gold Sponsor is Contender Sailcloth. Silver Sponsors are Safe Harbor Newport Shipyard and Hogan Associates/Christie's International Real Estate. Bronze Sponsors are Langan Design Partners, Newport Construction Services, Inc. and Gold's Wine and Spirits. Contributing Sponsors are Toni Mills Graphic Design, Mac Designs, Gosling's Black Seal Rum, and Stella Artois.

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

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