Smooth Sailing in Ida Lewis Distance Race

The Custom Sloop 69.5’ Gracie won the Youth Challenge and took second place in the IRC Class. (photo credit Onne van der Wal).

On Saturday morning, as the sun was barely peeking out from behind the horizon, the Ker 11.3 Oakcliff Racing, with its double-handed crew of Claudia Delahoy and Jeffrey MacFarlane, began its entrance back into Newport Harbor after becoming the first boat to cross the finish line in the 2011 Ida Lewis Distance Race (ILDR). Delahoy and MacFarlane, who had never sailed together before, mastered the variable wind conditions on the 104 nm Buzzards Tower course, making it back to Newport by 5:44 a.m. after starting on Friday off Forth Adams at 1:05 p.m., with the rest of the 35 boat fleet.

“We didn’t get any sleep the whole time,” said Delahoy, explaining that the winds were much more consistent than originally forecasted, especially for those who took the southern route around Block Island rather than the northern route, which had lighter breeze. “We kept planning that if the wind died off we could take some breaks, but it didn’t and so we didn’t stop pushing. I think that is what got us the lead in the end.” The strategy worked and Oakcliff Racing took home first in the PHRF Double-handed Class, correcting out a little under one hour ahead of Jason Richter’s (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) J/35 Paladin.

Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50 Privateer finished first on corrected time in the IRC Class – consisting of eight boats sailing the Block Island Course (150 nm) – and finished the race in just over 19 hours, earning him the Ida Lewis Distance Race Commodore’s Trophy along with the perpetual Russell L. Hoyt Memorial Trophy for best elapsed time.

“We kept the boat going the whole time, and it wasn’t until we headed back into Newport that it started to get light,” said O’Hanley. “We’ve had just about every finish position in this race – second, third, fourth, fifth – but this will be our first year winning our class.”  O’Hanley has sailed in every ILDR but one and found Stephan Frank’s 69’ custom sloop Gracie and Christopher Culver’s Swan 42 Blazer, which finished second and third respectively, to be the biggest competition throughout the race.

For the complete story, go to www.ildistancerace.org.

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