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Fletcher Wins 2nd Dubuc Trophy in Offshore 160

NEWPORT–Gordon Fletcher driving Riptide, a Beneteau 40.7, won his second William J. Dubuc Trophy awarded to the first boat to finish the “Offshore 160 Single-Handed Challenge.” Sponsored by the Newport and Goat Island Yacht Clubs, the biennial Offshore 160 is a 160-nautical-mile qualifier for the Bermuda One–Two in the off–year.

A fleet of thirteen yachts in two classes started at noon Friday, July 16, in a strong southwest breeze on a course that began south of Rose Island and the Newport Bridge, then west toward Point Judith, twenty–three miles south, southwest off Montauk Point, southeast of Block Island, and finish at the R2 buoy off Brenton Reef at the entrance of Narragansett Bay.  (Race is limited to monohulls with enclosed cabin, watertight, self–bailing cockpit, and LOA not to exceed sixty feet or less than twenty–eight feet.)

Fletcher’s Riptide finished first on Saturday at 17:29:00 hours (5:29 p.m.) with an elapsed time of 29:29:00. Fletcher’s finish was only an hour and nine minutes ahead of Robert Johnston who’s Morning Dance, a Beneteau 36.7, finished at 18:38:00 (6:38 p.m.) with an elapsed time of 30:38:00. Although Fletcher won the Dubuc Trophy for being the first boat to finish, Johnston was first on his corrected time of 31:12:34, edging out Riptide whose corrected time was 31:31:12. (Fletcher also won the Dubuc Trophy sailing Riptide in the 2008 Offshore 160.)

The last three of the five yachts to finish the Offshore 160 were: Jonathan Green on Jeroboam, a Beneteau Oceanis 35, Saturday night at 23:56:37 (11:56 p.m.); Peter McCrea on Panacea, a Freedom 32, Sunday morning at 2:14:00 (2:14 a.m.); and Richard McCally on Windswept, a Pearson 33, Sunday morning at 7:37:09 (7:37 a.m.). Roy H. Guay, who chairs the Offshore Committee of the Newport Yacht Club, said he was not overly disappointed that so many boats didn’t finish because of a variety of problems, everything from a loose headstay, a cranky battery system, or an eye ailment.

“Even though the single–handed Offshore 160 is only 160 nautical miles, it gives skippers new to single–handed sailing a real–time learning experience,” said Guay.  “To be competitive in solo sailing in the open ocean requires a high level of skill dealing with such critical issues as safety, navigation, equipment problems, and boat–handling techniques. Not every sailor, even those with years of recreational sailing experience, can handle competing in an offshore, single–handed yacht race.”

7/18 0800: All the boats are in.  Jonathan Green on Jeroboam finished first of the remaining three last night at 2356.  Peter McCrea on Panacea finished this morning at 0214 and Rick McCally on Windswept finished at 0737.

7/17 1840: Turns out Riptide did finish first.  Morning Dance finished at 1838.

7/17 1800: Ted Singsen on Sea Eagle arrived at NYC.  Ted withdrew due to schedule commitments and moving real slow.  Three more boats out there.

7/17 1730: Gordon Fletcher on Riptide called to say he finished at 1729 and he thinks Bob Johnston on Morning Dance finished in fron of him.

7/17: Chris Terajewicz of Vesper called to say that he has withdrawn from the race.

7/17 0830: Bob Kempe on Hideaway called to say he was withdrawing.  After rounding the “windward mark” weather buoy he couldn’t get his motor started for charging purposes and he is crawling with 7 kts from behind.  7 boats left!

7/16 2240: Tristan Mouligne on Samba dropped out due to problems with his boat and is headed back to Newport.

7/16 2125: Mark Winslow on Red Sky called to say that something happened to his headstay.  It is very loose.  So he has attached his spinnaker halyard to the bow as a backup up and is headed back downwind under main only.  Mark has withdrawn also.  He was about 20 nm from the weather buoy when he ran into this problem.

7/16 2000: Al Clayton on Moon And Stars called to say one of his eyes is giving him problems and can’t race safely with one eye so Al is retiring.  Al reported that the winds were 24-25 kts out of 220 degrees.  The weather buoy south of Long Island reports 15.5-21.4 kts out of 210.

7/16 1900: Bob Manchester on Wazimo called to say he had engine problem and was undable to charge his batteries.  Bob pulled into Block Island to fix the motor and is retiring.

7/16 1800: John Ash on Caribbean Soul called to say that he has withdrawn since he is unable to make any decent VMG to the first mark.  He will regroup and come back for the New England Solo/Twin.

7/16 1400: And they are off, all 13 of them!  It was a cloudy day but plenty of wind for the start.