Block Island, RI (June 19, 2017) – As a rule, members of the Storm Trysail Club are a hardy lot.
After all, the club’s by-laws state that “Candidates for membership must have set a storm trysail under storm conditions offshore or have weathered a storm under greatly reduced canvas or sailed 1,000 nautical miles offshore. They also must be experienced blue water sailors, capable of taking command of a sailing vessel offshore under any and all conditions.”
However, there is a time when even the most seasoned sailor must be prudent and proceed with caution when considering the safety of the boat and crew. Such was the case today when organizers of Block Island Race Week XXVII cancelled racing on day one due to high winds and severe fog. Race committee chairman Dick Neville made the final call after monitoring the wind velocity and fog layer on Block Island Sound and consulting multiple weather forecasts.
“Conditions on the sound were not safe for sailboat racing. There is less than 100 feet of visibility, which is a very dangerous situation,” Neville explained. “Commander’s Weather and other forecasts agreed that if the fog lifts, the wind would get five knots stronger. That would put the wind in the high 20s with gusts into the 30s.”
Shawn Adams, who operates the weather mark boat for the White Fleet racing circle, traveled out to Block Island Sound first thing in the morning and again at 10:30 am in order to provide the race committee with real time information. Adams recorded steady winds of 20 knots with gusts to 28.
“That would have been sail-able. However, there was no visibility, which was the problem,” Neville said. “Based on all reports, when we get the visibility the breeze comes up to a level that is not sail-able. For those reasons, we think it’s best to take the day off and let the sailors enjoy Block Island.”
Which is exactly what the crews of the 146 boats competing in the regatta elected to do. Brandon Flack, kite trimmer…