2023 Around Aquidneck Island Race

While lots of rain, low wind and some lightning were in the forecast, the 2023 Around Aquidneck Island Race ended up starting on time on June 17th. With 24 boats registered for the event the decidedly crappy weather resulted 10 starters and 8 finishers.

As Moose McClintock said at the awesome and well attended post race party at Tiverton Yacht Club (Thank you TYC), “I grew up on the Island, I live on the Island and I LOVE racing around the Island!!!”


  • Dawson & Ben Hodgson on J/11 Grimace, 1st in Spinnaker B and OVERALL WINNER
  • Moose McClintock & Team on C&C 30 Bad Tad, 1st in Spinnaker A
  • Gary Venable & Team on Freedom 30 SD Serendipity, 1st in Cruising Class

Check out the RACE REPORTS below!

Bewhiskered & Soggy Wet – Team BAD TAD – Spinnaker A Winners

Mom, we left and joined the Circus! – Achille, Noah and Frank on Bully Circus

Erik – respite from the rain on the delivery back to Newport on Bully Circus



As you may have noticed, a couple of boats underestimated the current at the start and struggled to get down to the line, but at least we got the pin end start we were trying for…

We obviously benefited from having a new overlapping headsail on the long light air beat (we actually built it this winter in my barn with our frequent sailing partner Ike Bowen from Contender Sailcloth).  

We tried to stay in maximum current, limited tacking to big shifts rather than chasing the zephyrs and got very lucky when the breeze filled in strong from the right side allowing us to hang between Bad Tad and Big Boy Pants all the way out of the bay right at slack tide.  

We stayed in contact with those boats until Brenton Reef where we opted to sail deep with our pole and runner up as the sprit boats sped off at a hotter angle, but we probably just about matched VMG as we sailed the rhumb just barely skirting the fish traps (always nerve racking when approaching under sail).  

Turning the corner at Cormorant Reef we were only able to keep the runner up for another half mile or so until the left turn and forward wind made us roll out the jib for a minute and change to the reacher.  

Another mile or so in you saw us struggling to keep the heading with the pole on the forestay, prompting yet another sail change to the code 0 (like the jib & runner, another homemade sail!), which proved itself the right setup for the pretty tight reach up the remainder of the Sakonnnet.  

This was our second year sailing this race, doublehanded once again, and despite the weather we really enjoyed the race.  We regret not having worked out the logistics of docking at Tiverton YC overnight for the party but hope to next year.   

Thank you to the RC and 20HC for organizing these races.  


I’m not sure there were victors so much as survivors, that’s certainly how we felt.  And we weren’t able to get any pictures, a little wet to be pulling the phone out (though we did use mine for navigation, more on that in a minute).

So, thoughts on the race:

First of all, when you’re drifting down current, stay in max current for as long as possible.  Our game plan almost from the get go was staying as centered in the channel as possible.   Multiple times our speed through the water was 0.0 and SOG was 1.5, being swept exactly S toward what we expected would be a S fill before going NW.

2nd. don’t go chasing a short lived advantage.  I spoke with EC after the race and he said that they had gone to the east of Dyer because the current was ripping there.  However, doing that does not get you to the breeze faster, which we deemed most important, and once you’re in that very confined area you are extremely limited in what you can do as far as shifts. And the sacrifices you make getting there (sailing in less positive current for a short term gain) can overcome the advantage.  Although we were in slightly less current for maybe 10 minutes, we made a huge gain there on EC by just using the current we had and getting S.  Grimace also did a very good job at about the same time by using what they had and concentrating on centering up on the course and aiming toward the S.  Boats that got close to Dyer were in lighter current before and after while getting to the short lived big push, Grimace played the Prudence side and although at one point we thought they had slipped back a puff tier, they were able to take advantage of the very light, short lived E fill to sail back up to us again.

3rd, keep the boat moving when you get the opportunity.  Mischief was doing a great job in the light air for their weight, and having a big headsail was good when there was enough breeze to keep it working (same for Grimace, though they were also lighter).  However, at one point the breeze started going E and they did a headsail change to something very light, not sure if it was a reacher or a specialty light sail but the maneuver cost them speed as the sails weren’t working well for a while and in the variable conditions it was only going to work for a while until the breeze switched again, the resulting change back was very costly for speed and we went from having a close lead over them to a huge lead in a matter of minutes.  We just let our sails out and made sure we were well ventilated, the increased flow and stable platform led to consistent flow and getting down the course.

4th, once the SW filled, sail the boat right,  We gave up quite a lot by overstanding the center spans and having to reach down to get around the right span.  We had the option to hit Grimace as they were going behind us and going through the center, we didn’t want to be jerks by giving them a facial so went a bit further, when we reached back down they halved our lead.  Sometimes it’s better to be an asshole.

From there to R2, it was just getting to the Newport shore and staying out of the now adverse current.  The breeze had also clicked another 10 degrees right, which was a harbinger to the eventual NW fill, I messed up getting around Castle Hill by overestimating the right fill and tacking short, this led to another two tacks against the current in dying breeze, both Grimace and Big Boys did a better job there and made nice gains on us again, lesson learned is don’t do a lot of maneuvers against strong current, you don’t get anywhere.  Once we popped through the current line we stretched again to R2 but were nowhere near saving our time on Grimace as they were only about 2 minutes behind us.

From R2 to Cormarant, we didn’t do a good job of either keeping the boat going in the quartering swell or paying attention to the NW shift.  Both Big Boys and our team (a combination of past and present URI Sailing team captains, youth Vin Mcateer Jr, and my good friend Bill Richmond, who lives in Little Compton and is the only one who knows exactly where Cormorant is all the time) slowly got lifted while Grimace held low on rthumb line with a symmetric kite (I think).  We finally gybed back to get in front and though we were a little faster, there was zero gain for us from R2 and were only about 2-2.5 minutes ahead of both Big Boys and Grimace.  Lesson there is to be more attentive to the breeze and maintain a better, more consistent speed.

Once around Cormorant it was a fetch, our only real worry was getting past Black Point and over Fogland.  Big Boys talked about having gotten too close to Black Point, every time I’ve done this race it has been better to be E and out of the lee and though everyone made good gains initially being high there, with steady breeze off the Point we made a big gain and after we started getting breeze from North of the point we went into full speed mode.  From there it was a matter of getting over Fogland.  I’ve never been in close there but Bill brought up a chart on my phone and we weaved our way through a couple shallow spots going full speed and wearing out our spin trimmer but made it, we got more header and carried low and fast until we were going to pile up off Sapowet Point, we held specifically to make sure we had a good jib reach angle to the finish.

I’m not sure we could have done a whole lot more, I don’t think there was another 3.5 minutes to make up on our time to Grimace.  Ben and team did a great job of sailing the boat fast when they had breeze, in light conditions like that where we stopped, they were able to sail right up to our hole and though we extended a bit when the breeze would fill a little, it came to them at almost the same time and we could never stretch.  They did a better job.

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