June 18, 2019

Welcome to BIRW 2019 From the Commodore

Few regattas compare to Block Island Race Week for our on-the-water excitement and shoreside fun. While any sail lets you slip away from life ashore, a week of sailing on this special island is a true escape. The sea breezes can be sporty. The fog can be confounding. Cellphones aren’t prohibited because they’re not needed for distraction. Jackets and ties are discouraged, not required. Intense competition at every level of the sport—from Grand Prix to family-friendly—is -balanced by the laid-back vibe when we’re back at the dock.

It’s appropriate then that we welcome Margaritaville, a brand widely associated with a relaxed coastal lifestyle and escapism, as the first presenting partner of Block Island Race Week in our history. We’re delighted to be able to bring a little Key West to Block Island. And we also thank our new and -returning -partners whose sponsorship makes this event happen.

You spoke and we listened.

This year’s edition features -noticeable enhancements to our format both on and off the water. We initiated many of these changes in response to the wishes of the fleet, as well as the trends we’ve been -observing in -sailboat racing. These include: a wider variety of course formats; the return of a Lay Day for most classes; an expanded number of handicap systems—IRC, PHRF, ORC, and Plus One; a new tent location; an earlier open time at the tent; and much more.

Of course, we’re all here for the racing. We’ve continued to offer racing with a variety of one-design and handicapped racing in windward/leeward configurations, navigator-style and Solent-style racing and more interesting courses—including the traditional Around the Island Race, which has a new twist: a mark set in the vicinity of the DeepWater Wind turbines. The presence of these turbines might suggest there is plenty of wind at Block Island, but those of you who have been here before know there is no guarantee when it comes to breezes.

The race committee will endeavor to schedule a Lay Day on a windless day, which brings us to our next new element: The first Storm TryAthalon, including the North Sails 5K, Trivia presented by Margaritaville, and the New England Ropes Tug o’ War. You won’t need any help finding something to do here on Lay Day or Lay Day Eve.

Ed Cesare, our experienced Vice Commodore and Regatta Chairman, along with Dick Neville, our On the Water Director, have done a great job formulating and managing all of the changes to this year’s event. Thank you, Ed and all our Storm Trysail Club volunteers for their dedication to the premier regatta in Storm Trysail’s event portfolio. There are too many volunteers to mention by name, but we’ve kitted them out with gear from Musto—a new sponsor this year—so you can pick them out from the crowd at the tent and thank them for their efforts on your behalf.

On a personal note, Block Island has been a vacation destination for my family for many years. This week will mark another first as my wife, Toni, and I will bring our new baby, Priscilla, and my parents to the island to continue the tradition.

I hope you enjoy your time here on Block Island as much as we have, and come back to visit again whether you’re just -cruising or returning for more racing.

If this is your first time at Storm Trysail Club’s Block Island Race Week—more than half of the fleet are first-timers—then your memories of this week will become sea stories by the 2021 edition. I’ve heard enough sea stories to know that many end with, “You had to be there.” That’s because it’s true and you -obviously know that because you’re here.

Welcome to Block Island Race Week presented by Margaritaville. Whether you’re hoisting sails or hoisting mudslides, running downwind or running the 5K in the Storm TryAthalon, we want you to enjoy every memorable moment of this event.

Good luck, sail safe, sail fast—and most of all, have fun.

A.J. Evans


Photo credit: Vanessa Vassilakis