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.