Congratulations to Tom and Diana Sutton for racing their J/122 LEADING EDGE to first place in Class B and second overall in ORC in the 60-mile Wirth M. Munroe Ocean Race from Miami to Palm Beach. This year’s race was a one-tack beat that ended-up as a close reach in lumpy seas with the wind blowing 20-30. Tom Sutton said, “It was a great race; we had a good plan and we stuck to it.” Their plan was to sail high off the starting line on starboard tack to get to the edge of the Gulf Stream and then bear off slightly to Palm Beach.
“Boy was it rough. At one point, my wife Diana who was on the rail just aft of our bowman, said she was floating above the deck in all the water that came aboard. It was a good thing the water was 80 degrees, because we were all wet. I’ve never done a whole race hard on the wind. It took us seven hours and change.”
LEADING EDGE had a new Titanium® main, jib and A5 from UK Sailmakers Texas. Tom noted that both the new main and jib were perfect, the A5 never got used. The Suttons are looking forward to the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race, which is traditionally a downwind event. Once in Key West, they will compete in the Southern Most Regatta during the third week of January.
Tom concluded saying, “You guys at UK Sailmakers have a great team.”
Unfortunately no pictures of LEADING EDGE were taken, but these shots of Conny Baris’ J/122 DIRE WOLF sailing with a reefed main and No. 4 jib give a good idea of what the conditions were like. DIRE WOLF finished fourth.
In ORC C, Oscar Valdes, sailed his Italia 9.98 RELENTLESS III to second place, after winning the race last year. According to Mark Wood of UK Sailmakers Miami, who sailed on RELENTLESS, said that bigger boats had an easier time in the big seas.
Left: X-Drive jib on RELENTLESS III. Above, an Italia 9.98 equipped with Titanium sails.
LEADING EDGE sailed with UK Sailmakers’ Titanium sails, while RELENTLESS is outfitted with X-Drive carbon sails.
The annual Wirth M. Munroe Ocean Race is among the oldest regattas in North America. First sailed in 1957 and named for the renowned Miami naval architect, the race is the second of four events making up the Islands in the Stream series. This race is affectionately known by participants as the “Race to the Buffet,” a nod to the sponsoring Sailfish Club of Florida’s legendary seafood dinner, reception, and awards ceremony offered to all skippers and their crews. Tom Sutton said that the Sailfish Club is one of the nicest clubs he had been to and he has sailed a lot of events from New England to Texas.
In the early 2000’s, in an effort to generate participation across a broader spectrum of boats, the original course was shortened to a 40-miler from Fort Lauderdale to Palm Beach. In honor of the 60th anniversary of the race in 2016, the Sailfish Club, in partnership with the Storm Trysail Club, reinstated the Miami to Palm Beach course. Two years later, the current two-course format was introduced, drawing strong and diverse fleets that range from ocean racing machines to racer-cruisers and coastal cruisers. Along with the Sailfish Club and the Storm Trysail Club, the Organizing Authority includes the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. Race management support is provided by all three clubs along with the SORC. The other events in the SORC Islands in the Stream regatta series are the Nassau Cup Race from Miami to Nassau, the Fort Lauderdale-to-Key West Race, and the Miami to Eleuthera Race.