Story provided by Kate Wilson Somers
The ideal conditions for any distance race are favorable winds, advantageous tide, and warm weather – which the 94th Conanicut Yacht Club delivered on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend for the 90 boats that lapped the 18 miles around Jamestown, Rhode Island.
At the end of the day, it was the smallest boat among the fleet, the 18-foot VXOne who hoisted the Commodore John Quinn Trophy for the fastest corrected time of 2:47:27. Nick Woviotis of Newport and Mike Komar of Jamestown onboard SPACE CADET battled the wind and waves to claim the top honor handily – winning by nearly 10 minutes over 2nd place’s Jim Madden with his new Carkeek 47, STARK RAVING MAD IX, and 3rd place’s (and 2019 overall winner) Chris Cannon’s Alden 62, VERISSIMO. Madden was also the winner of the Commodore Bruce R. Brakenhoff Memorial Trophy for the fastest elapsed time.
“As the smallest boat in the fleet, it was foot on the throttle the whole time and wave management was the key to our success,” said Woviotis. “Mike [Komar] drove through them perfectly and we were both nearly hiking off the stern to get around those 3-5 footers around Beavertail then just trying to keep a clean lane as all the faster boats caught up to us.” SPACE CADET saw 15 knots as their top speed of the day in winds ranging from 10-18 knots.
The competition ranged from 40-66 foot racing machines down to the VXOne fleet and 20-30 foot cruising boats split among nine PHRF-rated classes. “All the starts went off without a hitch,” said Mark Grosby, the race’s Principal Race Officier. “We could have used some more sun, but favorable wind and tide can’t be beaten!”
“The great part about CYC’s signature event is that serious sailors and family cruisers all take part,” said Patrick Muldoon, a 20+ year veteran of the annual race and co-chair of the event. “Everyone got around safely so we can’t ask for more than that.”
Nearly 25% of all PHRF certificates in Narragansett Bay competed in the Annual Event. “90 boats is the perfect number for us,” said returning co-chair Alan Baines. “It’s manageable and coupled with great weather, we can’t ask for more.”
Individual class starts began at 1100 with the higher-rated non-spinnaker boats with faster boats starting later. The winds were southerly all day – making the race a true windward-leeward course. Crews started upwind towards Beavertail with the tide with them rounding the southern end of the island just as the tide turned and raced dead-downwind to the northern tip of Conanicut Island before heading back upwind again to finish off the yacht club.
After racing, sailors gathered for awards and a BBQ at Conanicut Yacht Club where Commodore Charles Beal commented, “It all came together with the volunteers, sailors, and weather. This is always the highlight of the summer for the club and a great way for sailors to celebrate another conclusion to a summer season. This year was no different and looking forward to our 95th next year.”