Newport Bermuda Race Brief

Newport Bermuda Race Luxury Yacht Charter & Superyacht News

Newport to Bermuda Race to feature new tide and current data by Tidetech

June 13, 2012

Developed by applied oceanography specialist Tidetech, the new set of regional oceanographic data has been created ahead of the Newport to Bermuda race, comprising a high-resolution tidal model for Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, as well as high-quality ocean current data for the Gulf Stream.

Tidetech's regional oceanographic data for Newport to Bermuda Race

Tidetech's regional oceanographic data for Newport to Bermuda Race

Tidetech has gained access to state-of-the-art data – including ocean currents, tidal currents and wind/atmospheric pressure forecasts – from various sources including the North Eastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS). Tidetech’s in-house scientific and technical team is now applying its unique blend of expertise and capability to perform the complex task of converting the raw data into GRIB files.

Tidetech managing director Penny Haire said this would be the most comprehensive oceanographic data ever produced for the Newport to Bermuda race.

“This race is an important one… many of the teams competing are well versed in modern tactical navigation software and information including oceanographic data,” Ms Haire said.

“We’ve been working on the Newport to Bermuda race products for a while… the product elements that feed the models have been carefully selected for quality and performance – validated by our world-leading oceanographic data specialists through comparison with satellite altimetry data, sea surface temperatures and observations.

“The important point is that the data is delivered as GRIB files which is crucial for competitors using tactical routing software – an invaluable decision-making tool for those serious about offshore or ocean racing.”

Tidetech's oceanographic data - Gulf Stream

Tidetech's ocean current data for Gulf Stream

The Gulf Stream is likely to be influential in race tactics for the Newport to Bermuda race. According to Ms Haire, this region is the hardest sector of the Gulf Stream to get right tactically and Tidetech had to look at all credible sources of information for best accuracy.

“Complicating the tactical decisions for the Newport to Bermuda race is the extreme volatility of the Gulf Stream as it leaves Cape Hatteras,” Ms Haire said.

“Large eddies form unpredictably – much like you’d see in a river – breaking off each edge… getting it wrong could mean facing short-term adverse current, while a competitor sees positive current, resulting in a compound velocity differential. This was clearly seen in leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race.”

The meandering of the Gulf Stream intensifies east of Cape Hatteras reaching its peak around 65 degrees west. Meanders often pinch-off from the current to form rings and eddies. Observations have shown that, on average, the current sheds 22 warm-core rings and 35 cold-core rings per year.

Tidetech will provide two online pre-recorded briefings for the Newport to Bermuda race – a short briefing of emerging trends one week before the race and a full detailed briefing the day before the start.

Tidetech’s new data package for this race is a precursor to a broader product expansion for the northeast US region. Over the next two months high-resolution tidal models will be developed from Long Island Sound to the Bay of Fundy. Model areas will include Long Island Sound, Block Island Sound, Massachusetts Bay, Nantucket Sound, Martha’s Vineyard, Portland and the Bay of Fundy.

Tidetech is a technical supplier to the 34th Americas Cup and the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race.

Newport Bermuda Race 2012 with trackers by Yellowbrick to start on June 15

June 12, 2012

Held every two years in mid June,  the Newport Bermuda Race 2012, starting this Friday, is a historic 635-mile ocean race. The race takes around three to six days, stretching across a part of the Atlantic Ocean known for challenging weather, mainly in the Gulf Steam, where there are strong currents.

Newport Bermuda Race 2012

Newport Bermuda Race 2012 with trackers by Yellowbrick

Over 180 yachts will be starting from the historic seaport of Newport, Rhode Island. Yellowbrick will be providing trackers to all participating boats throughout.

The race is avaliable to watch online via Yellowbrick’s fully featured Race Tracker. Alternatively one can view race information from the ease of his smartphone. The release of the Yellowbrick iPhone and Android App this year has enabled users to follow live yacht races with the touch of a button. Key features include: Viewing yacht and team info, live leaderboards, review of the race map and rhum line and wind info, social media updates and customizable email race notifications to name a few.

The course will be both interesting and challenging, and depending on the weather conditions the race could be won by a yacht of any size. After setting off from Newport the race will be broken into three main phases before the finish.

The first between Newport and the Gulf Stream – Sailing in cold water and often in fog, the navigator must select a route to the optimal position on the northern edge of the Gulf Stream. The second,  crossing the stream – Depending on the configuration of the Gulf Stream (there is no typical configuration) the navigator must choose to cross the generally east flowing current up the 4 knots in the most efficient manner. Thirdly, Happy Valley! – The 300 or so miles from the bottom of the stream to Bermuda are generally most pleasant.

The racers are in warm water, the winds are warmer and generally southwesterly if the Bermuda High is established and fetching the islandis often possible. The finish will be a true test of navigation as Bermuda is guarded on its north and northeast sides by a barrier reef that cannot be ignored.

In keeping with the race’s 100-year traditions of including as many amateur sailors as possible, there will be 5 divisions. Each division will include yachts of similar size and types, allowing for fair competing for all.

Founded as an act of rebellion against the establishments who vowed that it would be insane for amateur sailors to race offshore in yachts under 80 feet. Thomas Fleming Day, the feisty editor of The Rudder magazine, vehemently disagreed, insisting, “The danger of the sea for generations has been preached by the ignorant.”

The race maintains its international prestige through competitive fairness, an exemplary safety record, and a responsive race organization handled by the volunteer members of the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Sailors everywhere dream of adding the Newport Bermuda Race to their life list of adventures.

Third Caribbean regatta won by Sailing Yacht DORADE

April 27, 2012

Sailing Yacht DORADE is the winner of its Vintage CLass in the 2012 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, after the overall class victories in the St Maarten Heineken Regatta and Les Voiles de St Barth.  In addition, DORADE yacht won the Concours d’Elegance for Vintage Yacht and Overall.

DORADE performing close by schooner ELENA in the 2012 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta - Photo credit Tim Wright - photoaction

sailing yacht DORADE performing close by schooner ELENA in the 2012 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta - Photo credit Tim Wright - photoaction

Matt Brooks, owner of DORADE, says: “Team Dorade was thrilled to win the Vintage Class at Antigua Classics. This was our third victory out of three Caribbean regattas but, for me, Antigua was the sweetest. I feel confident that Dorade is in good shape to take on the elements in the Newport-Bermuda Race starting on 15 June and that the crew is in equally good shape, with good chemistry between us all having bonded in these fun regattas!  Winning the Concours d’Elegance overall was the icing on the cake.  We hope to win a Panerai watch too one day!”

DORADE yacht in the 2012 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta - Photo credit Tim Wright - photoaction

DORADE yacht in the 2012 Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta - Photo credit Tim Wright - photoaction

The 1929-built, Olin Stephens-designed DORADE – recently appointed S&S flagship after an extensive restoration – was a hugely successful racer, winning the 1930 and 1932 Bermuda races, 1931 Transatlantic race – both line honors and overall – and the 1931 and 1933 Fastnet races overall. Dorade is the only yacht to win the triple crown of ocean racing: the Transatlantic Race, Fastnet Race and the TransPac Race, a record that stands unbroken to this day.

1930 sailing yacht Dorade wins class at St Maarten Heineken Regatta

March 06, 2012

Designed by Sparkman & Stephens, the spectacular sailing yacht Dorade was originally launched in 1930 and influenced nearly all developments in yacht design for the next three decades. The Dorade yacht is well-known as “the mother of modern ocean racing yachts”, winning countless races.

Sailing yacht Dorade wins class at Heineken Regatta Credit Tim Wright

Sailing yacht Dorade wins class at Heineken Regatta Credit: Tim Wright

The luxury yacht Dorade was a hugely successful racer, winning the 1930 and 1932 Bermuda races, 1931 Transatlantic race – both line honors and overall – and the 1931 and 1933 Fastnet races overall. Dorade is the only yacht to win the triple crown of ocean racing: the Transatlantic Race, Fastnet Race and the TransPac Race, a record that stands unbroken to this day.

Dorade is now racing in the Caribbean regattas in preparation for the Newport-Bermuda Race, starting with the St Maarten Heineken Regatta – in which she won her class in fresh conditions.

Owner Matt Brooks says: “Our team feels honored to be sailing aboard the S&S flagship and, after the fun Caribbean season tuning-up Dorade, we want to show what an 80-year-old lady in top form can really do. Our goal is to attempt all of the races Dorade won in her prime, beginning with this year’s Newport-Bermuda Race.”

S&S President & Chief Designer Bruce Johnson says: “We have been delighted to see Dorade, an icon of S&S, restored to such a high standard in preparation for an intensive regatta and ocean race program. As our newly appointed flagship we wish her a successful campaign.”

1930 Sailing yacht Dorade refitted and ready for the 2012 Caribbean regatta season

February 18, 2012

The famous Sparkman & Stephens 1930 yawl, sailing yact Dorade, has proudly entered the 2012 Caribbean regatta season after a major restoration in the USA. She will then returns to ocean racing – with yacht and crew in tune.

Sailing yacht DORADE credit Cory Silken

Sailing yacht DORADE credit Cory Silken

Dorade has emerged from a major restoration in the USA.

Expense was not spared as the yacht Dorade’s owner, Matt Brooks, pulled together a team of craftsmen sharing his values to do the best job after purchasing her in 2010. “Make her as near to perfect as you can!” was the brief given to Joe Loughborough, who oversaw the refit in Newport, Rhode Island throughout the best part of 2011.

Work was carried out on virtually every part and detail of Dorade from hull frames to engine, spars, rudder, electronics, sails, rigging, custom winches, headstay tang and the whole interior – full-size mock-ups being made of certain areas. The specialists involved in preparing the Dorade sailing yacht for ocean races were “unlike any she has sailed in the past 50 years”.

The 1930 refitted yacht DORADE - Photo credit Billy Black

The 1930 refitted yacht DORADE - Photo credit Billy Black

Dorade racing in the Caribbean regatta season to train crew.

The Heineken Regatta in St Maarten is followed by Les Voiles de St Barths and the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. Sailing yacht Dorade will also be present at the St Barths Bucket superyacht event. As well as enjoying fun and camaraderie among the competitors, the regattas will provide an important step in the training program for the team who will race in the 2012 Newport-Bermuda Race, while testing Dorade.

Designed by the late Olin Stephens, S/Y Dorade was originally launched in 1930 and influenced nearly all developments in yacht design for the next three decades. She was a hugely successful racer, winning the 1931 Transatlantic race – both line honours and overall – and winning the 1931 (and 1933) Fastnet race overall.

1930 Sailing yacht Dorade refitted and ready for the 2012 Caribbean regatta season- Photo credit Cory Silken

1930 Sailing yacht Dorade refitted and ready for the 2012 Caribbean regatta season- Photo credit Cory Silken

Dorade returns to ocean racing on 15 June: Newport-Bermuda.

The Newport Bermuda race was one of classic yacht Dorade’s first ocean races and she came second in class in 1930 (and first in class in 1932). On 15 June 2012, with a crew that will have tested their chemistry and skills in the Caribbean, Dorade aims to beat that and win.

Matt Brooks on Dorade credit Pam Rorke Levy

Matt Brooks on Dorade credit Pam Rorke Levy

Sail yacht Dorade’s owner and team-leader, Matt Brooks, whose home waters are the Bay of San Francisco, is a world-renowned mountain guide and has racked up first ascents in the Sierra and French Alps. He also flew solo aged 13 and set a record time for circumnavigating the globe (westward) in a jet plane. He is the reigning 6-metre class, vintage division, world champion.

Other core members of Dorade’s crew include John Burnham, Buddy Rego, Pam Rorke Levy, Christopher Musler and James A. Hilton Sr.  Captain Alex Greenson joined Dorade in January and is preparing her for the regattas, with shore support from Mike Drake of MCM Newport. The final crew list is yet to be announced.

CARINA Wins the St. David’s Lighthouse Division Trophy at the Newport Bermuda Race 2010

June 23, 2010

Carina a 48-foot sloop designed by McCurdy & Rhodes, she won on corrected time under the Offshore Racing Rule by the very large margin of 3 hours, 35 minutes over Gregory B. Manning’s Sarah (Warwick, RI). In third place, seven minutes behind Sarah, was Belle Aurore, a Cal 40 owned by R. Douglas Jurrius (Easton, MD).

As of 5 AM EDT Wednesday, 28 boats in the 183-boat fleet were still on the race course. This is the third largest Newport Bermuda Race since it was founded in 1906. The St. David’s Lighthouse Division, for amateur crews, is the largest of the race’s five divisions, with 103 boats this year.

Carina’s chances for winning looked good but hardly certain when she finished the race at dawn Tuesday. Her chief challenge came from Belle Aurore and three other boats in Class 1, the small-boat class. Any of them could save their time and elbow Carina off the victory podium should she finish by about 7 PM.  Many sailors at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and elsewhere spent much of Tuesday following the quartet’s progress on the online iBoattrack tracker.  In the end, nobody was able to save their time on Carina.

Those four smaller boats still did well. Belle Aurore won Class 1 and took third place in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division. Two other Cal 40s, Peter Rebovich’s two-time defending champion Sinn Fein (Metuchen, NJ) and Bill Leroy’s Gone with the Wind (Tiburon, CA), took second in the class and seventh in the division, and third in class and eighth in the division, respectively. The fourth boat, David G. Dickerson’s Peterson 38 Lindy, was fourth in class and 20th in the division.

Carina also won the North Rock Beacon Trophy as the top boat under the IRC Rule, with a margin of nearly four hours over Gracie, a custom 69-footer owned by Stephen and Simon Frank (Darien and Rowayton CT).  Gracie was also designed by McCurdy & Rhodes. Third under IRC was Arbella, a First 44.7 owned by James Shaughnessy (Greenwich, CT).

Newport Bermuda Race 2010

“How did Carina do all that?”

A lot of people have been asking this question at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club since Rives Potts’s 48-foot sloop finished the Bermuda Race on Tuesday morning and, that evening, became the winner of the St. David’s Lighthouse Division.

That refers to two things.  First there’s Carina’s domineering victory margin of more than three and a half hours. To put this in perspective, in Class 4 the top 10 places fit under a tent of only three hours, with first-place Windborn’s margin over second-place Lapin exactly 11 seconds.  Then there’s this: Carina had all that margin (and more) in the bank when she was half-way down the race course. When she exited the Gulf Stream, her lead was 60 miles.

Patricia Young CARINA navigator - Photo Credit to Newport Bermuda Race 2010

Ask Carina skipper Rives Potts why she did so well, and in his genial southern drawl he’ll speak of a good boat, a good crew, and good luck. That she is a good boat has been beyond dispute since she was launched in 1969.  Jim McCurdy, her designer, knew how to make boats strong, handsome, and fast – and with a good rating, too. In 2008 a small cousin of Carina’s called Selkie, sailed by Jim’s daughter Sheila with me (among others) in the crew, almost won a true thrash of a Bermuda Race.

The first time I saw Carina in action was in a light-air overnight race on Long Island Sound in 1969.  Under her father-son command team of Dick and Richard Nye she took the lead right off the starting line, but lost it and a lot more during an enforced stay on a sand bar off Port Jefferson. After she eventually was extracted by the rising tide, Carina steamed by us in a well-sailed Cal 40 as though we were standing still.

Good boats don’t necessarily enjoy good luck, but the odds for good fortune are better when they are sailed by a good, aggressive crew. The Nyes were famous for being both good and aggressive. “We used to swing for the fences quite a bit,” said Richard, who was known to surprise his crews by sailing off at right angles to the rhumb line in search of favorable current.

Rives Potts is not that much of a risk taker. Carina’s progress in the recent Bermuda Race, as shown by his iBoattrack line, indicates that he had a distinct plan in mind and improvised when he had to. As most of the other boats worked to the west after the start, he footed off for speed, staying near the rhumb line. When Carina fell among the calms that left many boats motionless for hours, he didn’t panic. He would call what happened next “an accumulation of good decisions and good luck. You always know you’re going to sail into a hole in this race. The question is whether you can get out. Sometimes the stars will turn out right.”  So will quick action. “We saw a wind line and tacked over to it on port and got away.”

Rives Potts bringing Carina around to the winner's berth at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club - Photo Credit Newport Bermuda Race 2010

Carina’s navigator Patricia Young gave three reasons for the boat’s success. The first concerned those initial strategic and tactical decisions.

“We just went with the wind we had rather than going as far as the optimizers said we should.”

Young’s second reason concerned how Carina managed a long line of black squalls that blew up into the thirties.  “We changed to the no. 3 at the right time and we rocketed.”

Reports from other boats indicate that some crews were not as well prepared to handle these gusts, and that the larger boats didn’t have these winds at all.

Patricia Young’s third reason for the boat’s success had to do with the crew’s morale.

“Everybody participated.  This was a total team effort.”

Those who know Rives Potts will tell you that his teams are bonded by their captain.

“If Rives can win this thing, I’ll be very happy,” America’s Cup and offshore racer Jerry Kirby, Rambler’s tactician, said on Monday. “He’s one of my heroes.”

Raised sailing on Fishing Bay, Virginia, near the mouth of the Rappahannock River, Potts graduated from Virginia Military Institute. Boat-crazy, he worked on America’s Cup campaigns, did a lot of ocean racing, and ended up running a boat yard – one of whose boats was Carina.

Along the way he had sailed enough and known enough good sailors like Rod Stephens to persuade him that fundamentals are crucial. “I discovered there’s nothing new in boats. Different materials, maybe, but no new ideas.”

That reliance on basics and team effort made him adept at Bermuda Races.  Carina has won a trophy in every one of the six races she sailed from 2000 to 2010, winning her class four times and the race once.  And she has done it with due attention paid to morale and creature comforts.  This year’s crew consisted of members of four families –Potts, his two sons, and a nephew; three Crumps; two Gahagans; Patricia Young and her husband Paul Hamilton; plus a friend.  Their last-night meal this year was family style: spaghetti and meat sauce, raspberry crumble, ice cream.

By then Carina and her happy crew, who had so successfully made their own good luck, were many hours ahead of the competition and within striking distance of winning the boat’s second Newport Bermuda Race in 40 years.

Newport Bermuda Race: Speedboat leads Fleet

June 21, 2010

As expected because of her 100-feet length overall, Speedboat continues to lead the 183-boat fleet in the Newport Bermuda Race. At 14:35 EDT she was 125 nautical miles from Bermuda sailing at 13 knots.

At that rate, she would finish at some dark hour on Monday morning. But a lot can happen in ‘Happy Valley’ the wonderland between the Gulf Stream and Bermuda. The ‘Open” Division record is 48hrs 28min 31sec set by Morning Glory in 2004. A new record setter would have to finish before 4:58:31 on Sunday. It’s no record breaker this year. 

With all five of the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division boats- Beau Geste, Bella Mente, Rambler, Ran and Titan XV within 250 miles of the finish, the traditional elapses time mark for the race set in 2002 by Pyewacket of 53hrs 39min 22sec. To break the record a boat in Class 8 would have to finish before 20:39:22, Class 9 before 20:49:22 and in Class 10 before 20: 59:22. 

The five boats in Class 10 were still within 15 miles of each other on Sunday afternoon, some 190 miles from the finish, but sailing well below the 11 knot average speed needed to break the traditional course record . The battle for divisional line honors is very keen even if a record won’t be broken.

Speedboat', held the lead after the first 24 hours Photo Credit PPL Agency.

Elapse time leaders in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division are the big boats in Class 8. Vanquish has a hefty lead. By 14:00EDT Sunday, the Bermuda/American crew sailing in memory of teammate Bill Riker was about 197nm from Bermuda and her closest rival is Aurora was about 31 miles behind.

'Genuine Risk', 'Il Mostro' and 'Speedboat' - at the start on Friday Photo Credit PPL Agency .

While the focus of attention has been on the big, Open Division boats, Carina, a Class 3 McCurdy & Rhodes 48 skippered by Rives Potts, appears to have made the most of the Gulf Stream.

At 15:00 EDT, Carina was an incredible 60 miles ahead of Triple Lindy, the next boat in her class, and is now within 300 nautical miles of Bermuda. This is the biggest lead in any class at this time. With Potts at the helm, Carina finished first in Class 3 and fourth in the St, David’s Lighthouse Division in 2006. in 2008 she finished second in Class 3 and tenth in the division. 

Another small boat to shine is Sinn Fein skippered by Peter S Rebovich. She has slipped 50 miles west of the rhumb line and by 1:00PM Sunday her  speed over the ground,  was 7.2 knots according to iboattrack ,while the other boats in his class were only making between 2.5 and 4 knots. Sailing a greater distance away from the rhumb line has paid off so far but with these top boats in the 2006 and 2008 races still 400 miles from Bermuda, time will tell, of course.

184 Yachts to Sail in Newport to Bermuda Race

June 18, 2010

A good wind is predicted for the early stages of the 47th Newport Bermuda Race, which starts today off Newport, R.I. The 184-boat international fleet is the third largest in the race’s 104-year history. Nearly 2,000 sailors will compete. The course runs 635 miles from the mouth of Narragansett Bay into the Atlantic Ocean and across the Gulf Stream to the finish line off St. David’s Head, Bermuda. The race should take two to three days for the largest boats, over 80 feet long, and four to six days for the smallest ones of 33 to 40 feet.

Newport Bermuda Race - Yacht Genuine Risk - one of the supermaxi yachts chasing chasing the record

“We expect a fine afternoon sea breeze of 10 to 15 knots to get the boats out into the Atlantic,” said Bjorn Johnson, chairman of the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee.  “It may get lighter as the boats sail out into the Atlantic, but there will be a strong favorable current in a Gulf Stream meander carrying the boats toward Bermuda.” 

The thousands of spectators at the start will include Bermuda’s Governor, Sir Richard Gozney, and Premier, Dr. Ewart Brown. When the first starting gun is fired at 2 p.m. EDT, the two officials will be looking on from a motor yacht with Commodore Sheila McCurdy of the Cruising Club of America and Commodore Peter Shrubb of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, the race’s two sponsors.

 The 184-boat fleet is divided into five divisions whose final standings will be determined by factoring handicaps into the boat’s elapsed times.  The largest with 103 boats is the St. David’s Lighthouse Division for predominately amateur racing crews.  If the two-time defending champion, Peter S. Rebovich’s Sinn Fein, wins her third straight St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy, she will tie a record set in 1954-60 by Carleton Mitchell’s Finisterre. 

The Cruiser Division is the second largest with 39 boats. Its winner will receive a prize carrying Mitchell’s and Finisterre’s names. Professional racing crews compete in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division (13 boats) for a trophy named for Bermuda’s tallest lighthouse.  Three boats with cant keels and other innovations will race in the Open Division for the Royal Mail Trophy.

There also is the 26-entry Double-Handed Division for boats sailed by just two sailors. They sail for the Phillip S. Weld Prize and Moxie Prizes. In addition, the top boat in the IRC rule standings will receive the North Rock Beacon Trophy.

The five divisions are broken down into a total of 16 classes, determined by the boats’ size and type.

The race for first to finish will very likely be between the largest boats in the fleet, the 99-foot Speedboat in the Open Division and the 90-foot Rambler in the Gibbs Hill Division.

In a statement to the sailors, Commodores McCurdy and Shrubb said, “Hundreds of sailors and thousands of supporters make this race a major international sporting event every two years. Ocean racing is a marathon of endurance and finesse. Some experienced crews may make this year’s race look easy: Others will learn more than they thought they would. The challenges can be both stressful and satisfying.”

They added, “The fleet is first class, and the hospitality and facilities of the New York YC in Newport, and in Bermuda are unsurpassed. The members of our two clubs have volunteered countless hours of planning and preparation. Now we are all ready to let the fun begin!”

Newport Bermuda Race Skippers Meeting

It was a sight that can be found only in Newport. Sailors of every vintage – the tall, tanned, Fabio-looking crews of the carbon maxis, and the Topsider-wearing men and women with the requisite polo shirts – lined the street in front of the marquee at the Jane Pickens Theater for the Bermuda Race skippers meeting. Old friends were shaking hands, not having seen each other since the 2008 race.  Wide-eyed newcomers were eagerly poking their heads inside the historic building in the heart of Washington Square.

“Welcome to the most exclusive meeting anywhere,” said Newport Bermuda Race chairman Bjorn Johnson as he opened the meeting in front of a standing-room only crowd, referring to the fact that each boat is only issued two tickets. He led a moment of silence for John Bonds, a well-respected Cruising Club of America member who passed away last week. A few hours earlier, Johnson and many competitors were at New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court for a memorial service held for Bonds.

After Johnson’s introduction, CCA Commodore Sheila McCurdy congratulated the competitors on the “great achievement” of making it through the rigorous preparation process the organizers require of each boat. “It’s like a triathlon,” said McCurdy, who has sailed in the race 15 times and is sitting out this year to oversee the event with Commodore Peter Shrubb of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. “The preparation is the first leg. The race is the second. Getting the boat home safely is the third.”

Looking out over the crowd of sailors in the gradually warming air of the old theater, the sailors seemed ready to get on with the meeting, ready to learn what to expect from the weather and Gulf Stream experts. There was also the grumbling of stomachs, ready for that sumptuous crew dinner at Scales & Shells or some other eatery. But race committee chairman John Myles lightened things up by announcing that the new committee boat, the 126-foot ketch Axia, should be quite visible since the owner’s son will be having his 10-year-old birthday party onboard. Images of balloons flying across sails and marauding little children hitting those who start at the boat with a Super Soaker popped into my head.

Being one of the 30% sailing the race for the first time, my excitement at seeing all these sailors in one place was piqued by something I overheard on the street. Big boat, small boat, canting keel, full keel — at that moment we were all tied for one of the big trophies and all, hypothetically, with a chance for line honors (though the stars really have to align for a Ranger 37 to beat a Reichel/Pugh 75 to St. David’s Light house). 

Having never sailed the race, I hear that the camaraderie founded in the days leading up to the start is usually galvanized in Hamilton by rum and sea stories.

I hope that’s true, since this has been a lot of fun . . . and the race hasn’t even started yet.

West Marine now official supplier of Newport Bermuda Race

May 23, 2010

The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee has named West Marine as an official supplier for the 47th Newport Bermuda Race.  Said Race Chairman Bjorn Johnson, “West Marine has long been a friend to sailors as a supplier of boating equipment and as a sponsor of safety at sea seminars, including the one before our race.  Now we are very pleased to welcome West Marine as a sponsor of the Newport Bermuda Race and name West our official supplier.”

Newport Bermuda Race

On May 28, West Marine opens its new Newport Flagship West Marine store at 379 West Main Road in Middletown, RI.  Almost three times larger than West Marine’s former store on Connell Highway, the new store has a significantly larger inventory and a full-service rigging shop.  The store is also home to two other West Marine operations, Port Supply and Professional Captain’s Services.
The new store will provide free transportation for Newport Bermuda Race sailors between  the Newport waterfront and the store during the week before the race start on June 18.

“West Marine is pleased to have this relationship with the historic Newport Bermuda Race,” said Chuck Hawley, West Marine’s Vice President for Product Information.  “As the oldest ocean race and also one of the most challenging, with its 635-mile course from Newport across the Gulf Stream to Bermuda, the race takes seamanship, safety, and gear
very seriously, just as we do at West Marine.”
Founded in 1906, the Newport Bermuda Race is organized by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. For more information, visit
West Marine is the largest specialty retailer of boating supplies and accessories, with  more than 330 company-operated stores in 38 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada. The company  offers approximately 50,000 products and the convenience of exchanging catalog and  Internet purchases at stores.