B.I. Club will open for summer 2020

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 5:30pm

The Block Island Club will be opening in June, with plans on offering limited programs in a reduced capacity for members.

The B.I. Club was founded in 1963, with the intentions of starting a summer boat and tennis club on the island to promote educational and recreational programs for children and adults. Located off of Corn Neck Road, the Club is situated on the eastern side of the Great Salt Pond, and offers classes in sailing and seamanship, swimming and water safety, tennis and arts and crafts during summer vacation for all ages.

There are approximately 175 families who join the Club each year; a mix of islanders and summer residents.

B.I. Club Co-Presidents Christopher J. Swihart and Johnny Montañez recently issued a statement in regards to the Club’s re-opening during COVID-19.

“The Block Island Club’s Board has been working this spring to understand what the situation might look like on the island come mid-June. We have looked at several different scenarios trying to mitigate financial risks to the club and to keep you and your children safe this summer. We have considered opening up as usual, but believe continued social distancing guidelines throughout the summer will severely restrict our ability to run children’s classes as usual. We also believe the economic impact to the island and to The Club will be significant this summer which many believe will result in a 50 percent reduction in revenue to the island, which we can only assume will include us, as most of our revenue comes from weekly and bi-weekly membership, and children’s classes,” said Swihart and Montañez.

The B.I. Club board decided to rehire the previous staff of Club Manager and Sailing Director Alex Donohoe, Waterfront Director Cameron Greenlee, and Tennis Director Adam Rudowski as leaders in offering limited classes and instruction for members.

“With these three dedicated professionals we will have the club open and running. Members will have access to the tennis courts, clubhouse, sailboats, kayaks, paddle boards, and the dock (including slips). We will have adult tennis classes such as doubles and rose tennis. We will also offer private tennis and sailing instruction. In terms of children, we will not be offering classes as normal. Due to the social distancing guidelines we will not be able to run large classes, nor host social events for the kids or adults. We will be trying to offer semi-private classes of tennis and sailing for children. These classes will consist of four kids on the water and four kids on the tennis court. Classes will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and scheduled so a child can go from sailing to tennis and vice versa,” added Swihart and Montañez.

The board decided to not offer swimming or arts and crafts classes “at this time.” Arts and crafts classes and swimming lessons were offered in past summers.

Head Tennis Director Rudowski is going on his second year at the club, and plans to have tennis lessons available to his members.

“To keep it short we are planning to have Mixed Doubles Clinics, Ladies Clinics, Men Clinics, and Tennis Aerobics throughout the week and Saturday. Also, private lessons, upon request. All of these clinics will have restrictions owing to the virus… Our Junior Program will run, but it will be condensed, with restrictions as well. The most invigorating news is we are going to run our most popular clinic called Rose 105. It does not stop there: Alex and I are thinking of designing a new clinic idea involving both sailing and tennis! As well, we are going to put a start to some pickleball ‘open play’ this season. The summer should be refreshing and fun amidst the COVID-19 pandemic! We at the club are doing everything we can to ensure that… We are going to set up restrictions and safety rules for tennis. These details will be more clear when the club opens,” said Rudowski.

udowski. Swihart and Montañez noted they would be ordering cleaning supplies, to clean the Club, boats, and tennis courts after each use. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available and required on the property. The Club will also be following the guidelines set by the town of Block Island.

B.I.C. Manager and Sailing Director Alex Donohoe shared a statement as well on the opening of the B.I. Club.

“It was great to hear that the club would be opening in some capacity. On a personal level, I was so thankful to be able to return to the club and help expand its horizons. More importantly, however, I think that the club has the potential to play a big role throughout these times. If social distancing persists, there has never been a better time to learn to sail, improve your tennis swing, or even explore the pond by paddleboard and kayak,” said Donohoe.

“In terms of our events, we will constantly be updating our website and social media and we’re hoping to establish some social groups within the club this year. Unfortunately, we cannot run our Block Island School sailing program (normally May and June), but I’m really looking forward to seeing the growing number of local kids on the water again this year,” added Donohoe.

The B.I. Club posted on their website a list of classes that will be offered in 2020. The list is subject to change, and updates will be posted on their website, social media, and newsletters:

Kids Tennis and Sailing Classes (4 per class)


Adult Tennis Clinics

Rosé 105 Tennis

Private Tennis Lessons


Sailing Cruises

Use of Keelboats

Private Sailing Lessons (Dinghies and Keelboats)

Access to Kayaks, Paddle Boards, Sail Boats, Tennis Courts

Access to the BIC Beach and Beach Furniture

Access to the BIC Deck

“I know there will be disappointment all around but we all hope you will continue to support the club and purchase a membership. On this point, if you do plan on joining, please purchase your membership online as soon as possible and indicate whether you have children that will likely participate in these semi-privates as that will allow us to plan accordingly. And of course, any donations to support the club in the future will be greatly appreciated,” added Swihart and Montañez.

To learn about the upcoming schedules, and to sign up or renew memberships, go to www.blockislandclub.org