Donald Filippelli’s Caminos Earns Top Honor
The Storm Trysail Club’s 50th anniversary Block Island Race Week drew to a close today with two final races on Block Island Sound. This year’s fleet totaled 167 boats in 15 classes and all but the three Navigator classes sailed a total of 11 races, making it one of the more successful weeks in recent […]
The Storm Trysail Club’s 50th anniversary Block Island Race
Week drew to a close today with two final races on Block Island Sound.
This year’s fleet totaled 167 boats in 15 classes and all but the three Navigator classes sailed a total of 11
races, making it one of the more successful weeks in recent memory. Four days of windward/leeward
racing in 10- to 18-knot winds coupled with an epic Round the Island Race in 20- to 30-knot winds has
many leaving the island off the coast of Rhode Island with fond memories.
“This is probably the best race week we’ve had in the past 10 editions,” said Principal Race Officer Dick
Neville. “We’ve rarely had five full days of racing. Usually the weather interrupts one day. But the
conditions this week have been spectacular. It might be the best race week ever.”
The conditions throughout the week were well-suited for Donald Filippelli’s J/109 Caminos, which won
the Everett B. Morris Memorial Trophy for best overall performance. Caminos also won the J/109 North
American Championship, awarded as part of race week.
Hailing from Amagansett, N.Y., near Sag Harbor on the eastern end of Long Island, Caminos is helmed by
Filippelli’s son-in-law, Ryan Dempsey. They’ve placed in the top three in the J/109 class each of the past
three race weeks before breaking through this year.
“I don’t sail the boat anymore because of Parkinson’s disease, but Ryan and the crew do a tremendous
job,” said Filippelli. “It’s a 10-year-old boat and takes a lot of abuse, and I love it. Each day I tell the crew
‘Be safe, have fun and goddammit win!’”
Factors determining boat of the week include class size, total points and margin of victory. Racing in the
largest class at race week, 25 boats, Caminos finished with the low score of 21 points, won four races,
had nine top-2 finishes and finished 17 points ahead of Bill Sweetser’s second-placed Rush.
“We sailed conservatively, had mid-line starts and were going fast,” said Dempsey. “We were very fast
upwind. I’m not sure why, but I’ll take it. It was all by-the-book fundamental stuff.”
While Caminos won the top award Josh Burack (New Rochelle, N.Y.), owner of the J/105 Peregrina, won
the Emil “Bus” Mosbacher Sportsmanship Trophy. Peregrina lost its mast in Tuesday’s Round the Island
Race when a shroud broke. The mast folded in half at the top spreader.
Burack then volunteered for Race Committee duty and was placed on a safety boat. Prior to racing on
Wednesday, fellow J/105 competitor Damian Emery’s Eclipse broke its gooseneck during practice before
the day’s first race. Burack raced back to Champlin’s Marina, removed the gooseneck fitting from his
broken mast, and got it to Eclipse with time to spare.
“Before we left the dock on Wednesday, we noticed a crack in the gooseneck, but decided it would likely
be fine until the end of the week, but of course the moment we went up with the main, it busted.” said
Dave Shrader, trimmer on Eclipse. “If it wasn’t for Josh running in and stripping the gooseneck off his
stricken boat for us, it would’ve been a lot worse. We didn’t even miss a race,” he said. “It’s this sort of
camaraderie and respect for one another that makes Race Week so special.”
After four days of winds from the south to the west, today’s wind was from the northeast and blowing
15-20 knots before easing off as a weather system approaches New England. Several classes were
decided in the final day of racing.
One of those was the J/105 Class, where Emery’s (Shoreham, N.Y.) Eclipse staged a come-from-behind
victory to win the class and the J/105 East Coast Championship. Eclipse was placed fourth after
Wednesday’s racing, 11 points out of first, but finished the regatta with a 1-2-1-2 to score a 1 point
victory over Paul Beaudin’s (New York, N.Y.) loulou.
Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s (Newport, R.I.) new 44-footer Interlodge won IRC 1 after a week-long
struggle with Gunther Buerman’s (Highland Beach, Fla.) 52-footer Hooligan. The two traded blows all
week and that continued today. Hooligan won the day’s first race with Interlodge second to climb within
1 point heading into the final race. Interlodge got the better of the boat-on-boat battle, finishing second
to Hooligan’s third for a 2-point victory.
Mike Bruno’s (Armonk, N.Y.) Wings (J/122) won both of today’s races to stage a come-from-behind
victory in IRC 4. Trailing Ed Freitag’s and Molly Haley’s (Annapolis, Md.) DownTime (Summitt 40) by 4
points heading into today, Wings finished with a 5-point victory after DownTime placed 7-4.
The tightest class in the fleet was PHRF 1, where 1 point separated the top three. It also was another
case of a come-from-behind victory as Bennet Greenwald’s (San Diego, Calif.) Perserverance (J/111)
moved up from third and won by one-half point over Kevin McNeil’s (Annapolis, Md.) Seabiscuit (Farr
30). The smallest boat in the class, Seabiscuit had led its larger rivals all week but scored a 5-5 today
while Perserverance finished 2-2. Dax Ansley’s (Annapolis, Md.) U.S. Naval Academy crew on Ranger
(Farr 40) placed third, another one-half point behind Seabiscuit.
Still another comeback was staged in the J/88 Class, where designer Rod Johnstone’s (Stonington,
Conn.) Jazz scored a 1 point victory over Iris Vogel’s Deviation, which had led all week.
In the venerable J/44 Class, Jeffery W. Willis’ (Huntington Bay, N.Y.) Challenge IV scored two more
victories today to complete the class win. It is the crew’s sixth consecutive class victory at Block Island
Race Week dating back to 2005.
“We’ve had a very consistent crew,” said Willis. “With the exception of maybe two members, it’s the
same crew we sailed with in 2005. My three sons are in the crew and it’s just very special to win with
“Challenge was fantastic all week,” said Len Sitar, owner of VAMP. “They had great tactics, boatspeed
and the crew work was outstanding. But they’ve done this before. I think they’ve won the J/44 North
Americans something like 15 times in the past 25 years.”
In IRC 2, Andrew and Linda Weiss’ (Mamaroneck, N.Y.) Christopher Dragon led from Day 1 to Day 5. The
Sydney 43 had all top-2 finishes and totaled 17 points. Christopher Dragon finished 3 points ahead of
John McNamara’s Lir (Swan 45).
“Our ratings are pretty similar so we’re essentially sailing boat-for-boat. They’re just very hard to beat,”
In the IRC 3/Swan 42 Class, Paul Zabetakis’ (Stuart, Fla.) Impetuous finished 5 points ahead of Ken
Colburn’s (Boston, Mass.) Apparition for his first class victory at race week since 1999.
Walt Thirion’s (Annapolis, Md.) Themis finished first in the C&C 30 Class, which it has led all week, and
Angus Davis’ (Bristol, R.I.) Nyabinghi finished second, 6 points in arrears.
William Purdy’s (New York, N.Y.) Whirlwind (Beneteau First 36.7) in PHRF 2, John and Tony Esposito’s
(Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) Hustler (J/29 MHOB) in PHRF 3 and David Alldian’s (Jupiter, Fla.) Cymothoe (Sabre
362) in PHRF 4 all won the classes they have led all week.
In the Navigator classes, which sailed one race per day, Ty Anderson’s (Riverside, Conn.) Skye (Farr 395)
won the Doublehanded Class, Brian and Deborah Mulhall’s (Ocean City, N.J.) Testing Life (Tartan 46)
won the Cruising Spinnaker Class and Christopher Schneider’s (Centerport, N.Y.) Rascal (Ericson 39) won
the Cruising Non-Spinnaker Class. Each had led their respective class all week.