Vela Wins The 2024 Around Aquidneck Island Race

Race Report from Mike Zani, Vela. Full Results

There were many proverbial faces to this race. The start was in beautiful weather – relatively warm with flat water and a steady 12 knot westerly. The fleet looked happy and ready for a quick trip reaching and running around the island.  It was pretty uneventful as boats streaked out of the East Passage with the start of the ebb. Number 1 Genoas and full mainsails with crews in t-shirts and shorts were in fashion.


Then it got weird.  The westerly dominated inside the bay and was mild compared to the sea breeze which dominated north of the bridge.  Between Gould Island and the Pell bridge boats were seeing 40 degree plus shifts as the two bodies of wind were converging.  Big gains were seen both on the left and the right, with the middle being the least favorable.  


Then it got windy – The sailing from the Pell Bridge to Brenton Reef was a bit of a pounding.  Peak ebb current and strong SW breeze topping out at 20 knots.  Most people had their largest Genoas up and wished that they had reconsidered the shorts and t-shirts.  Past Castle Hill we had a lot of green water on deck and not a dry person onboard. We would have reefed the main if we had more sense.  I think there was a breakdown or two in the fleet at this time.


I think most people would agree that sailing downwind from Brenton Reef to Cormorant Rock was some epic & memorable conditions.  Big waves and broad reaching in 20 is always a blast.  We kept setting personal speed records on Vela.  The previous was 9.6 knots set in the 2020 bridge fiasco, but we hit 12.2 with a sustained 20 seconds over 11 (Thank you helm at the time Tim Fallon).  It was pretty fun in a boat that was invented before sailboats could plane. 


The Sakonnet was a nice port spinnaker run in with the water getting smoother all the way up.  It was pleasant until you ran into the westerly which demanded an immediate and somewhat hectic drop of the kite about a mile or so before the finish.  


The party was well attended.  The fast boats left some rum and burgers which was kind of them.  With the Twenty Hundred Club crowd there is great comradery and always a good time. 


It was hard to give commentary about a lot of other boats in the fleet as we were the slowest rated boat in the spinnaker class, so we only had distant views of their transoms.


Vela won the award for youngest sailor 19 (Wake Zani) and oldest sailor 85 (Tony Falella), which was cool and a first for us.  We consider ourselves lucky to be able to play this game of sailing with old, young and everything in between.  All 4 of our crew members got a chance to drive the boat – sharing the love.  By the way Tony makes the best blueberry scones which we ate all the way around the course. With the amount of butter he used it should come with a statin. 

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