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Momentum building for Ida Lewis Distance Race in August

by Barby MacGowan 21 Jun 20:38 BST August 16-17, 2024
Richard Feeny's (New Bedford, Mass.) youth team aboard the Figaro 2 Douze Etoiles crosses behind Eric Wolf's (Bayville, N.Y.) J/121 COUCOU in the 2023 Ida Lewis Distance © Stephen R Cloutier

With two months to go, the Ida Lewis Distance Race, scheduled for August 16-17 and presented by Bluenose Yacht Sales, is building momentum as the crowning regatta on Narragansett Bay's busy 2024 race schedule.

In its 19th running, the event tests veterans as well as newcomers in an overnight race between 100 and 230 nautical miles (determined prior to the start by forecasted weather/sea state and handicap range of each class).

"Building on last year's success, we are tweaking and refining a format designed to give us the best chance at a 24-hour race for all classes," said Event Chair Anselm Richards, explaining that the Race Committee has a total of five different courses from which to choose. "The event has built its reputation on being neither too long nor too short and easy to manage as far as crew and preparation."

As introduced last year, there will be two ORC classes (ORC 1 and ORC 2) rather than one and three PHRF classes (Aloha, Coronet, and Bagheera) rather than two, resulting in tighter rating bands, thus keener competition within each class. Doublehanded and Cruising Spinnaker classes will also sail under PHRF, splitting into two classes if warranted.

Returning on the J/121 COUCOU will be Eric Wolf's (Bayville, N.Y.) team, which plans to do its own tweaking and refining. "Last year was my first Ida Lewis and it did not disappoint," said Wolf. "We hit 15 knots in flat water! We learned a lot...and we're looking forward to taking those new skills and applying them to the 2024 season and the Ida Lewis Race."

For the most part, Jon Desmond's (Newport, R.I.) team aboard his Mills 41 Final Final has raced the Ida Lewis Distance Race for over ten years on various programs. "We keep coming back because of the competition and the racecourse(s)," said crew member Matt Wordell. "We have fun on and off the water while also maintaining our competitive edge and focus. It starts with Jon. He wants to win, but he wants to do it with his friends aboard..."

Of the 22 boats registered thus far, nine (including Final Final) are using the race as a tune-up for the newly introduced distance race in the ORC Worlds, scheduled for early October in Newport.

This includes Paul Zabetakis's (Jamestown, R.I.) Swan 42 Impetuous, which is brand new to the Ida Lewis Distance Race. "I am very fortunate to have a very experienced and loyal crew that has had prior experience in distance racing, including Ida Lewis, Newport to Bermuda and Stamford Vineyard Race, to name a few," said Zabetakis. "I may be the least experienced sailor on the boat!" Unlike others on his team who started sailing in their youth, Zabetakis did not start until his mid-20s. "Over the years, I have sailed with a number of great individuals, learned much and had my share of both victories and defeats. I am excited to be sailing in 2024 with my friends and challenging ourselves in the Ida Lewis Distance Race."

David Southwell (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) has thrown down the gauntlet in Doublehanded Division. Sailing his J/121 Alchemy, he just finished (and won) the 2024 Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race (OSTAR), the oldest solo race, between Plymouth in England and Newport. "I'm doing the ILDR with my stepdaughter Maggie Hoffman, who has herself sailed across the Atlantic with her husband. This is my favorite race of the season, and we're looking forward to both the sailing and the festivities."

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.

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 Gold's Wine and Spirits, Langan Design Partners, Newport Construction Services, Inc., and North Sails. 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, .

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