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Aug 27, 2019 9:54 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Blustery Conditions Lead To Wild 50th Annual 'Round Gardiners Island Race

Seal and Team Tonic head out on for the 50th annual 'Round Gardiners Island Race. Team Tonic, skippered by Jim and Ellen Sanders of Westhampton, were cumulative winners. DREW BUDD
Aug 27, 2019 10:38 AM

The Lawrence I. Clarke Memorial ’Round Gardiners Island Race has been challenging some of the most seasoned sailors around for half a century now. This past Saturday’s experience, in the 50th annual running of the event, was a testament to its reputation.

Over the past few years, partly due to the race being run in the late summer, conditions could be considered light, with low wind and tides, making for a long but pleasant adventure. The scene was much different for this year’s race.

A blustery wind clocked at approximately 13 knots out of the northeast, according to Alex Weatherseed, sailor director of host Devon Yacht Club in Amagansett, who greeted boats at the starting line, which was made up between buoy C”11” and the Carola V, Devon’s committee boat. The forecast proved to be correct, and the wind continued to give up over the first few hours of the race, forcing the fleet, which sailed clockwise around the island, to battle against a strong current caused by the rising tide.

Of the 30 or so boats that started the race, only eight actually crossed the finish line due to the challenging conditions. Of Devon’s 12-boat Alerion 28 fleet, the largest one-design class in the race all competing in Division IV (Cruising Canvas/161 or more), only a single boat finished, which was “Pilot,” owned and operated by Devon Yacht Club Commodore Curt Shade. It took nearly nine hours for Shade and crew to finish the race. James and Ellen Sanders of Westhampton, who skippered “Team Tonic,” a Beneteau 42s7, were the cumulative winners, finishing in just over 6 hours 7 minutes. Goombay Smash, a Marstrom 32 catamaran, skippered by William Douglass in its own multi-hull division, completed the race in the fastest time, 3 hours 46 minutes.

Other boats that finished the race included “Gossip,” a J109 skippered by Liam and Steve Kenny (7:20:19), the only boat of four in Division I (Spinnaker/105 or less) to finish the race. Jody LoCascio and crew aboard “Boogie Van,” an Express 27, beat out Robert Barron and his crew aboard “Omakaze,” a J70. LoCascio finished in 7:54:30, just 10 minutes ahead of Barron. They were the only two boats in the eight-boat Division II (Spinnaker/106 or more) to finish the race. Andrew Baris, aboard “Impulse,” a Sabre 402, finished the race in 6:54:25, behind Sanders. Baris and Sanders were the only two finishers in Division III (Cruising Canvas/160 or less).

The ’Round Gardiners Island Race is scored under the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet, a handicapping system used for yacht racing in North America that allows dissimilar classes of sailboats to be raced against each other. The faster the boat, the lower the rating.

All sailors were delighted to return to shore for a Caribbean-themed barbecue and Dark ’N’ Stormy cocktails courtesy of event sponsors Regatta Craft Mixers and Gosling’s Rum.

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