On the Friday before Labor Day, team members Tommy Hickey and Charlie Welsh found themselves on the starting line of the 2017 Storm Trysail Club Vineyard Race. This is a 238 mile course from Stamford, CT around the Buzzards Bay Tower back again, leaving Block Island to starboard. The team sailed onboard Desperado, a Bill Tripp designed, heavily modified J120.
The race started in 10-15 knots of breeze off of Stamford. Desperado was the first boat in PHRF 14 off the line and sprinting towards the Buzzard’s Bay Tower with the medium weight A1.5. The fleet was extremely competitive with multiple lead changes even in the first few hours. Most of the first day consisted of changing between our 1.5, code zero, and flying jib.
By the evening, the breeze had come forward and built to a steady 15-20 knots. Desperado was set to hit Plum Gut just in time for max flood, getting a four knot boost from favorable current. Within 10 miles from the
Gut, the breeze went even further forward. Transiting this narrow waterway would now require numerous gybes and two extra sail changes. The last-minute decision was made to turn north and exit the sound through The Race, losing the potential advantage from current.
Desperado rounded the Buzzards Bay Tower just after 0300 on Saturday morning and headed back west, code reaching at around 10 knots in 12 knots breeze. By sunrise, we decided to reenter the sound through The Race, an opinion that was not shared by most of our competitors who headed for Plum Gut and The Sluiceway. Our choice paid off as the breeze began to die out in traditional Long Island fashion. Desperado is a weapon in light air and those were exactly the conditions we saw for the next twelve hours. We found a small lane of breeze on the Connecticut shoreline and stuck with it. Wind speeds varied from 2-7 knots with boat speeds of 3-7.5 knots respectively. The rest of the day, we did a horizon job on our competitors putting over 12 miles on every boat in our fleet, other than Sundari. The last hour of the race, the breeze went aft and built to 17-20 knots. We enjoyed VMG sailing at 10-12 knots with brief surfs touching 15 knots. We rounded the final mark and finished just after 2100 on Saturday, for a corrected time of 1:12:43:25 beating out our closest competitor by over an hour.
We enjoyed the opportunity to participate in such a prestigious event and learned from sailing in such varied conditions with numerous sail changes. We are very much looking forward to our next offshore event.