12 boats descended on the West Passage of the Narragansett Bay for the 2011 Wickford Regatta. While the forecast was dismal, 7 races were completed for the series over 2 days of racing.
Saturday was sunny and hot. RI had been covered in fog for nearly a week, and a light northeasterly breeze was blowing as teams left the beach. The noon start time was very civilized as teams from out of town had plenty of time to rig their boats and make it to the race course. The breeze gradually died and the RC attempted a race, only to abandon half way up the beat. We sat for about 30 minutes before the classic Narragansett seabreeze filled from the SSW. Within 10 minues of the fill, the breeze was a steady 14 knots as the RC reset the race course.
3 races were sailed in the seabreeze. Doug McKeige sailing with Ted Ferrarone and Simon Gerson sailing with Parker Shinn were clearly the pace setters in this condition. Ned Turney sailing with Craig Thompson were nipping at their heels at times, but did not have the pace to break the top 2. Russell/Kivney, Marini/Defosse, Danzinger /Ehrhardt all showed good speed at times in Saturday's Races.
The plethora of regatta volunteers put on a great dinner on Saturday night. There was as much food and beer as you could dream of, and the temperature dropped off quite a bit. Most of the regatta's younger contingent made it to The Ravers concert in Newport, and the 11AM start on Sunday made it possible to close the bar and still get enough sleep to function.
Sunday's racing placed as much emphasis on tactics as it did boatspeed/handling. Ned Turney's patience and good decision making on the upwind legs led his team to add only 6 points over the day's 4 races. A true testament to Waterat craftsmanship, USA 7346 turned 30 years old this weekend and is still on pace with the newer boats. A very strong Sunday performance was turned in by Francis Murphy and Jon Wenderoth. The team showed a huge improvement from Day 1 and also over the course of the day. They won the last race of the regatta and accumulated the second fewest points for the day. Gerson/Shinn were able to hang on by a narrow margin to win the regatta. Turney/Thompson took second, and McKeige/Ferrarone rounded out the top 3.
Overall, the 2011 Wickford Regatta was a great success thanks to all the regatta volunteers, Regatta Chair and PRO Skip Whyte, and all 12 teams who turned up to race. This regatta is an excellent way to open the summer sailing season, so be sure to mark your calendar for next year's event. Narragansett bay is truly a magical place to sail, especially if you get the seabreeze.
Editor's note - All photos are courtesy of Danielle Lawhorne Photography - Full Gallery