The 69th Annual Sam Wetherill Race with its new 140-mile course will be Long Island Sound’s first distance race of the 2021 season. In fact, since most of the race takes place outside of Long Island Sound, it could easily be called the season’s first ocean race. While Block Island Sound and Rhode Island Sound do have their own names, when the wind is strong and from the wrong direction, the term “Ocean” is very appropriate.
What makes this course both interesting and challenging is the major impact current with have on the strategy and tactics employed by the participants. The Race Committee prudently picked a start time when a strong ebb current was running so with any wind at all, making it out of the Sound should be easy. However, having successfully made it out of the Sound, your current worries are a long way from over. Unlike the Vineyard Race whose rounding mark is the Buzzards Bay Tower, the Wetherill’s rounding mark is approximately 10 miles beyond the tower, just off Gay Head light on the Vineyard. This means the boats will have to sail across the mouth of Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound going to and from the rounding mark and current abounds in both places.
The next leg is to Block Island which must be left to starboard. If the prevailing southwest breeze is blowing, this will be a terrific beat to windward with the impact of current being minimal. However, as soon as you reach Southeast Light at Block Island, the fight with moving water starts again. The favorite foul current entry back into Long Island Sound for most races is Plum Gut but with the finish on the north shore of the Sound, the Gut is too far out of the way.
So if the current is foul and wind is light, it may be a long sail home from Block Island.
The Organizing Authority for the Samuel Wetherill Race if Essex Yacht. The first warning signal will be at 1100 on Friday, May 21st with the starting line located 0.5 NM west of the Old Saybrook Lighthouse. There will be ORC and PHRF classes for fully crewed and doublehanded boats as well as Multihulls. The NOR is posted on Yacht Scoring and for further information, contact the Chairman, Sam Wetherill Race at firstname.lastname@example.org