Labor Day tradition to set sail for circumnavigation Sunday

The fleet of the 2022 Around the Island Race, with Brian Cuhna’s Irie 2 at the forefront, sails downwind in the West Passage from Beavertail Lighthouse toward the Verrazzano Bridge. The 96th edition is Sunday. PHOTO BY STEPHEN R. CLOUTIER

At least 85 yachts, including 15 homeported in Jamestown, are scheduled to circumnavigate Conanicut Island during a local yacht club’s flagship regatta to commemorate Labor Day.

The Around the Island Race 2023, hosted by the Conanicut Yacht Club, will set sail Sept. 3 for the 96th time. The 18-mile race includes passes under the Verrazzano and Pell bridges with views of Fort Getty, Clingstone, Horsehead and Castle Hill, which is the feature of artist Hillary Dutton’s promotional poster this year. Since the 84th edition 12 years ago, Dutton has selected a landmark from the racecourse annually to paint, including the Rose Island, Dutch Island, Conanicut Island, Beavertail and Plum Beach lighthouses.

Among the class winners returning to defend their titles are Bill Doyle’s Luder’s 44 yawl Frolic, Owen Harren J/44 Singularity, Robert Lambert’s J/24 Barfly, Peter Allstrom’s Beneteau First 35s5 Anser, James Del Bonis’ Jeanneau Vixen, David Schwartz’s Lyman Morse 40 Mischief, Gordon Fletcher’s JPK45 Take Two, Jack LeFort’s Eggemoggin 47 Tink and Ron O’Hanely’s Cookson 50 Privateer.

Mary Holly, a VX One owned by Doug Newhouse, is the only defending champion not registered.

LeFort and Lambert are Jamestown residents. Other local boats registered for the Around the Island Race include Richard Moody’s R/P 66 Boudicca, Cory Sertl’s Farr 30 Das Blau Max, Hugh Balloch’s Swan 48 Dragon, Roy Guay’s Frers 39 Floating Point, Angelo Bianco’s Oceanis 51.1 Hot Pocket, Mike Hirshland’s Swan 44 Meraki, Bert Bodin’s Tartan 37 Mimi, Charles Beal’s Frers 33 Relentless, Laurent Esquier Lyman-Morse e33 Skedaddle, Don Miller’s J/27 Splash Tango and Chris Cannon’s Alden 63 Verissimo.

Organizers say this “scenic event” is not just enjoyable for sailors because spectators also “love to come out and watch the fleet of beautiful boats sail by iconic landmarks.” The club dubs the event as “the crown jewel of Narragansett Bay yacht racing.”