By Erik Stork
Remember the Block Island Race Weeks when everyone slept aboard their boats? When there were feeder races? How about the “band boat” that drove around the harbor to rouse everyone for another day’s racing? Or the famous tug of wars and mini 12-Meter races? While I think we can all agree we’d rather a dry bed and a real shower after -racing, I’ve always enjoyed hearing stories from the good ol’ days.
Sure, it’s fun to race every day of a regatta, but some of my best sailing memories have been from planned or unplanned off days. In 2015, at the RORC Bicentenary Regatta in Cowes, racing was canceled because there was too much wind, so we took a boat trip up the River Medina in search of a proper English Pub lunch with a good number of our competitors. In Perth, Australia, for the 2009 Team Race Worlds, we went to an animal sanctuary—koalas! kangaroos! emu!—and hosted a regatta party at our rental house; by luck alone there were no impacts to our damage deposit. Finally, I’m confident my 49er crew, Trevor Moore, holds the lap record at the local go-kart track in Hyeres, France, where 30 sailors or so from a dozen nations would take the competition shoreside. I’m lucky to have made friends from around the world through sailing, and that wouldn’t have happened without plenty of downtime over a café au lait or some friendly onshore competition.
The reintroduction of the lay day at Block Island Race Week this year is meant to recreate some of those moments. Whether you’re looking to spend time with friends and family who -aren’t racing, catch up with old friends or make some new ones, we’re sure there’s -something for everyone.
The main event is the first Block Island Storm Tryathalon. Here’s how you get your day started on the right foot, with the North Sails 5K at 0830. The race will start at the North Sails service loft, situated at the Block Island Maritime Institute and take serious runners and casual joggers across the Island in a loop that finishes at the Narragansett Inn. That mudslide will taste mighty good, and besides, now you’ve really earned it. The winner in each age/gender group will win a prize from North Sails.
After you’ve showered and explored the island, gather on the Narragansett Inn’s scenic porch for the first Block Island Race Week Trivia presented by Margaritaville at 1300. Make sure to form a diverse team, because questions will cover Block Island, Block Island Race Week and BIRW sponsors new and old.
Finally, pull your team together one more time as the party is getting started for the New England Ropes Tug of War at 1530 on the beach near the regatta tent. Make your way through to the -finals and you might win the day!
Entry is open to all, so form a team of five or six and compete in all three or any one. It’s your day! The entry fee for any or all events is the suggested purchase of one raffle ticket, proceeds of which go to a good cause on Block Island. You can register online, during the regatta registration or at the North Sails service loft. The first 100 participants to register for the North Sails 5K get hats, so get on it.
If you’ve had enough competition, there will be a range of offers and discounts from our friendly Block Island businesses. For something completely different, stop by the Abrams Animal Farm for a behind-the-scenes tour just for Block Island Race Week participants and their families.
The small farm between Spring and High streets is home to llamas, emus, sheep, donkeys, goats, swans, ducks and even camels. If you have kids, the animals will keep them entertained for hours. Lay-day organizers will announce the farm-tour time before the lay day. Look for all participating -businesses on social media and in the tent. (Sign up so we can get a head count).
The Race Committee will try to -determine the lay day as soon as possible, based on the forecast and current state of the series. I’ll just say one thing: Don’t use it as an excuse to catch up on email and work! If for no other reason, the Wi-Fi really isn’t up to the -challenge. So let it go and get going.
—Erik Storck, a lifelong Race Week competitor, is the Storm Trysail Club Young Members’ Committee Chair