The Block Island Times

Block Island Race Week arrives

Jun 23, 2013
Photo by: Rolex/Daniel Forster The 68-foot classic yawl Black Watch will be competing in the Classic division this year at Block Island Race Week.

As this week’s edition of The Block Island Times hits the stands, members of the 180 teams that will be competing in this year’s Block Island Race Week will have already started to arrive on the island. Drive down to Great Salt Pond and you’ll see it stocked with newly arrived boats. Race Week starts on June 23 and runs through June 28.

The race has been an biennial event since 1965. Race headquarters will be located this year at The Oar Restaurant, while evening festivities and award ceremonies will be held next door in the event tent.

“The buzz around this year’s Block Island Race Week is deafening,” said Event Chair Lee Reichart. “The club prides itself on professionally managed, clean, fun racing at Block Island Race Week. With four days of around-the-buoys racing and one day devoted to the 18.2 nautical mile ‘Around the Island Race’, this is really one of the last true race weeks remaining. It’s fantastic that it has survived the times in its original format from 50 years ago.”

According to Commodore Nick Langone, the day the ‘Around the Island Race’ is held “depends on the breeze. It’s optional.” If the elements are favorable, “around the island we’ll go.”

The race kicks off on Monday morning at 0900. There are four fleets — the Red, White, Blue and Green — that will participate in a variety of categories. Langone described Race Week as a big boat regatta, meaning that the minimum length is 24 feet.

According to the press release issued by Storm Trysail, which sponsors the race, one entry connects directly to Block Island Race Week’s storied past. Black Watch, which is entered in the Classic division, is a 68-foot classic yawl that was built for the 1938 Newport-Bermuda Race. She was bought in 1954 by Dr. George Brooks of Larchmont, N.Y., who sailed her in the very first Race Week in 1965 and owned her for four more decades after that.

During World War II, the Black Watch served in the so-called “Hooligan Navy.” As vessel CG 68007, Black Watch (then named Edlu II), was called upon by the U.S. Coast Guard, along with other civilian sailboats, to patrol for German U boats. She was skippered at the time by none other than Jakob Isbrandtsen, one of the co-founders of Block Island Race Week, who will be a guest of honor at this year’s event.

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