2018-09-06 / News

Siren leads 100 yachts around Conanicut isle


Sparkle Pony heads downwind in the West Passage after turning the corner at Beavertail Point during Sunday’s circumnavigation of Conanicut Island. The Kirie Elite 37 owned by Bill Finn finished second in its division, 30th overall. PHOTO BY CATE BROWN Sparkle Pony heads downwind in the West Passage after turning the corner at Beavertail Point during Sunday’s circumnavigation of Conanicut Island. The Kirie Elite 37 owned by Bill Finn finished second in its division, 30th overall. PHOTO BY CATE BROWN William Hubbard and his crew onboard Siren, which was rated as the fastest boat in the fleet, won line honors Sunday by lapping Conanicut Island in two hours, 20 minutes.

A one-hour handicap placed on the 56-foot custom Reichel-Pugh, however, thwarted Hubbard’s chances to win the overall trophy.

The circumnavigation, hosted by the Conanicut Yacht Club annually since 1927, was sailed under sunny skies and a building sea breeze. It featured more than 800 sailors on 100 yachts ranging from 22 feet to 80 feet.

While Siren completed the 18-mile course in the fastest time, it was Alex Watson’s Manic, a 21- foot Shaw 6.5, that won the overall trophy with a corrected time of 3:16:06. He beat Akimitsu Hira and his visiting team from Japan on their brand-new J/121 Crescent IV by just 18 seconds. Brad Hastings’ Mischief from Bristol rounded out the podium with a third-place finish.

The triple-digit fleet represented 25 percent of all race boats registered on Narragansett Bay, making it one of the largest circumnavigations in recent history. Plagued by hurricane forecasts since 2016, organizers were thrilled with Sunday’s weather.

“We want to keep it fun above all else,” said East Shore Road’s Mark Grosby, chair of the race committee. “Fair racing, a scenic course and a great party afterward are what keeps everyone coming back year after year.”

Separated into 11 divisions and staggering starts by six minutes, the slower boats started at 11 a.m. in 8 knots from the south. The fleets converged around Beavertail Lighthouse on the southern tip of the island, setting their spinnakers for a 9-mile downwind run along the western side of the island.

“Looking back at 90-plus boats coming down us was breathtaking,” said Kate Wilson, sailing onboard The Cat Came Back, a Swan 42 skippered by Conanicus Avenue’s Linc Mossop. “It was one of the moments where you realize we are lucky to live and do what we do.”

Mossop, whose boat finished second in its division and eighth overall, was competing in the race for the 35th time. When asked about the race following the circumnavigation, Mossop, with a thumb’s up and big smile, said, “Absolutely awesome.”

Walcott Avenue’s Jack Lefort sailed Challenge XII to a second-place finish in his division, capturing 10th place overall onboard his 12 Metre. East Shore Road’s Chris Cannon, who was defending his 2017 overall trophy aboard Verissimo, was the third boat in his division to cross the finish line. He finished 11th overall.

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