Bardenheier captures 38th Hal Madison Race
Veteran yachtsman and first-time Hal Madison participant Joe Bardenheier of Newport, RI, racing with his family, sailed to victory in the 38th edition of the Block Island Club’s Hal Madison Race on Saturday, August 14th.
Racing one of the B.I. Club’s Colgate 26’s he dubbed The Flying B’s for the event, Bardenheier finished about a minute ahead of the next finisher, also a Colgate, raced by club sailing instructor John Seider. Bardenheier said he’s been coming to Block Island since 1973 and has sailed in more Block Island Race Weeks “than I should have,” noting that he’s won a lot of silver over the years, but
never had as much fun doing so as he did on Saturday.
The skies were mostly sunny, the temperature, humidity and dew point were high, and the winds were light and flukey (after a week of heavy air) throughout the race, which started around 11:30 a.m. south of the Great Salt Pond channel.
Race committee chair and club manager Alex Donohue had to change the course and reset the starting line minutes before the first gun due to the finicky winds. The patient fleet of seven keel boats, including five club Colgates, a J/24 and a J/99, started more or less
together, ghosting across the line with some close crossings and shouts of “starboard.” The fleet spread out somewhat as skippers looked for shifts and puffs, and sought out the most consistent wind. On the first windward leg, choices were made that set the tone for the race.
While Bardenheier sailed a largely flawless race, he had stiff competition for overall honors from Seider on a Colgate he named Aw Jeez for the day, multiple Madison winner Bob “Red” Closter (along with his grandchildren) on his J/24 Island Spirit and B.I. Club sailing instructors Chloe Weber and Hailey Walter helming another Colgate named T for T for the race. The top four finishers crossed the line within about an eight-minute span.
All of the Colgates chose not to fly spinnakers, making Bardenheier one of only a couple of skippers in nearly four decades to capture
the Madison Cup under cruising canvass. The race committee put the The Flying B’s, as the overall winner, in its own class, so Seider
on Aw Jeez, was first in the cruising class, followed by Weber and Walter on T for T and Darren Goldman and Bob Maher on another Colgate named Arunga Bunga for the race.
Closter took home more Madison silver with a first in the spinnaker class, followed by Ken Fischburg on his J/99 Wild Child.
The annual Hal Madison Race was started by two Block Island Club sailing instructors in 1983. Madison was a founding member and early president of the club, who helped lay the foundation for the club’s now over half-century-old junior sailing program. The Madison trophy goes to the yacht with the best overall corrected time.
Proceeds from the race are going to the newly established Block Island Club Madison Community Fund, seeded by funds gifted from the Estate of Hal Madison. The fund will support the fall sailing program at the club for students at the Block Island School and financial aid for club programs for students in need. The Block Island Yacht Club matched all entry fees with a contribution to the Madison Fund.
Club manager Alex Donohue was the principal race officer, assisted by Emily Beinkampen, John Seider, and other B.I. Club staff.