Vineyard memories — Tom Castiglione

The Buzzards Society was formed to honor those who have raced in 10 Vinyard Races or more. Here Tom Castiglione recalls his first Vineyard Race.

To no surprise, it’s the first Vineyard race that I remember the most. I don’t recall the year, Perhaps ‘91 or ‘92. I was sailing a Soveral 43 named Barrister out of Port Jefferson. It was the first “big” distance race for me on the biggest boat that I had ever raced aboard at the time.  It was my first adventure out of the Sound into the vast ocean of Block Island Sound and beyond. It was a windy spinnaker reach right through the gut with a sail I had never heard of before –The Star Cut reacher! Wait until you see this declared the Skipper! Twelve, thirteen, fourteen knots, I had never gone so fast.  A tropical storm was passing well south but the swells were coming in adding another element to this new experience. Today I may never have even noticed the sea state but back then, it was the Southern ocean. Diesel leaked into the Bilge and found its way all over my shiny new red and white Musto one-piece foulies purchased just for that race……I didn’t care a bit.  We must have reached the tower before dawn because I remember that we were on the way back as the sun rose and the wind died leaving nothing but left over swells.   Somehow, the new kid (me) ended up with the helm at this point.  It was near impossible to keep the sails full in the swells. Today, I would pull my hair out in those conditions but that morning, it was just another part of the best adventure of my youth.  Our navigator took us through Fishers Island Sound in a attempt to get out of the current. A daring move that I would not appreciated for another five years or so.  The wind never came back and the food ran out along with the patience of some of the crew but not a word of withdrawing was ever mentioned. The race took some fifty odd hours to complete. I have logged countless ocean miles since then on boats almost three times the size of the old Barrister but when I think back, I find myself trimming that  Star Cut reacher as we blasted through the gut in my first Vineyard race every time.

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