Block Island Race Week Delivers Again

Tested by weather and notorious June fog, organizers of the Northeast’s greatest race week persevered to deliver a top-shelf regatta week on Block Island.

Thick fog and light winds greeted sailors on the final morning of Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race Week presented by Margaritaville. After an hour-long postponement, the Race Committee ultimately decided to abandon racing on Margaritaville Race Day due to the low visibility and lack of wind.

boats sailing around an island
Block Island Race Week’s 150-boat fleet makes its way around the island on the week’s most spectacular sailing day. Chris Love/Storm Trysail Club BIRW

“Safety is the most important factor in our decision making,” said event chair and long-time PRO, Ray Redniss. “Windward-Leeward courses with multiple fleets is just not feasible for safe sailing.”

Cheers and a few groans could be heard around the dock as Dick Neville, On-Water director, made the VHF announcement at 11am because it was now a certain outcome on which teams would be crowned champions of Block Island Race Week.


Before the cancellation, one of the races to watch today was between two service academies in the J/44s. The US Merchant Marine Academy and the Coast Guard Academy were in a standoff tie after the Regatta Craft Mixers Round the Island Race with USMMA ultimately ending up on top due to the rule that “who beats who” in the last race wins.

“It’s a very friendly rivalry between us,” said one Kings Point Midshipman after learning they had won John Alden Reed Perpetual Trophy for the best performing yacht for a Service Academy. “We want to thank the Coast Guard for some great close racing all week. It kept going back and forth. We have a great team here, many of us just coming off months working at sea, and we came together to just kept fighting the entire time.”

Also in a One-Design class, William Zartler’s Deja Voodoo, from Lakewood, Texas, won the J/105 class – one of the largest in a decade with 13 boats. “As usual, it’s great to be at Block Island Race Week because of the challenging conditions. You have to watch the current and the wind shifts. This team was on top of the racecourse, at all times paying attention, and was ready to change gears quickly.”


Zartler attributes having a team that has sailed together a long time to the victory, a common theme among many of the other class champions. Laura Grondin skipper of the Melges 24 Dark Energy echoed that sentiment.

“We have a fantastic team. We have all sailed together a fair amount and we have just positive teamwork and positive energy on the boat,” said Grondin. “The highlight of the week was definitely the Round the Island Race as we paid attention to all the conditions and got the boat around the course as quickly as possible.”

The winner of the J/109 East Coast Championships was Jonathan Rechtschaffer’s Emoticon. The crew not only won the class but also a bit more silver: the A. Justin Wasley Memorial Trophy as the winner of the largest one-design class and the Island Sailing Club Of Cowes Perpetual Trophy for the overall winner of the Regatta Craft Mixers Round the Island Race.


“One of the core reasons I am part of the class is because anyone can finish on top or win any of the races. We also all support each other,” said Rechtschaffer. “My hats off to Gossip who started this regatta strong. It’s class racing so it’s about the consistency and my team helped deliver that.”

J 109 sailboats racing


Jonathan Rechtschaffer’s J/109, Emoticon was the top one-design of the week and overall winner of the Around the Island Race. ©2021 STEPHEN R CLOUTIER

He attributed early season racing and learning from those mistakes to capitalize on the gains made throughout the week and dedicated the win to his mother who passed away earlier this year.

New for 2021, the Isbrandtsen Overall Perpetual Trophy has been rededicated to the best overall performance for a Corinthian team at Block Island Race Week. John Krediet with his J/97 Participant II was crowned this year’s deserving winner.


Lastly, the Everett B. Morris Perpetual Trophy, also known as boat of the week, is the most coveted of the awards. Since 1967 this has been awarded for the best performance for the Block Island Race Week as judged by the Race Committee and the Commodore.

This year goes to Jack McGuire his J/29, Dirty Harry.

“We have a great group of sailors. We’ve got brothers, friends, and all of our families are here so we go back and hang out with all together after racing.  All that camaraderie just comes together with a great boat to make for a great team,” said McGuire.

McGuire and his crew are all childhood friends from East Greenwich, Rhode Island where McGuire first started sailing with the former owner John Lavin on Dirty Harry. When he passed eight years ago, McGuire purchased the boat from his widow and has been sailing it ever since. In 2019, they came very close to the Everett Morris.

“It takes time to build a program and this week we were just hitting on all cylinders.”

Block Island Race Week presented by Margaritaville concluded with awards and a celebratory final party as toasts were made to another week gone by and the countdown starts until June 19, 2023 for the 30th Block Island Race Week.

Storm Trysail Club Block Island Race Week Presented by Margaritaville Trophy List for 2021:

The Gem Trophy: Presented to the best yacht with at least 70 percent of its skipper and crew, male or female, younger than 25 years of age at Block Island Race Week: J/44 Beagle

Everett B. Morris Perpetual Trophy: Awarded to the overall yacht with the best performance as judged by the Race Committee and the Commodore:  Jack McGuire, J/29, Dirty Harry

Isbrandtsen Overall Perpetual Trophy: Awarded overall yacht with the best performance for a Corinthian yacht: J/97, John Krediet, Participant II

Island Sailing Club Of Cowes Perpetual Trophy: Overall winner in the Around the Island Race: Jonathan Rechtschaffer, Emoticon, J/109

A. Justin Wasley Memorial Trophy: The overall winner of the largest one-design class. Jonathan Rechtschaffer, Emoticon, J/109

Vintage Yacht Trophy:  Best Yacht at Block Island Race week 25 years old or older, substantially unaltered, with the best point score for the week: William Zartler, Deja Voodoo, J/105

Governors Perpetual Trophy: This trophy is presented to the foreign yacht with the Best Performance for the Week: Tony Langley, Gladiator, TP52

John Alden Reed Perpetual Trophy: For the best performing Service Academy Yacht participating in Block Island Race Week: US Merchant Marine Academy, VAMP, J/44

Shelter Island Team Trophy: Best overall Yacht Club team at BIRW: Storm Trysail Club Team 2: Dirty Harry, Kalevala II, Plantir 5

Abrams Family Trophy: Awarded to an individual or individuals who has made a significant contribution to the ongoing success of Block Island Race Week: Steve Draper

Blockhead Trophy: Presented by BIRW Chairman Everett B. Morris in 1965, to be awarded to whomever the race week committee deems worthy: The entire J/111 Class for their group planning effort: “Indecision is the key to flexibility.”