Thrash to start Newport Bermuda Race >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News
With forecasts looking fresh to spooky for at least the first 36-48 hours of the race, a fleet of 187 sailboats are ready to take on the challenge of the 2022 Newport Bermuda Race on June 17 from 1310 hours.
The pre-race forecast calls for southwesterly winds between 17 and 22 knots at the start and continuing well into the evening, with waves up to 8 to 10 feet offshore. A cold front is expected to pass over the fleet on the first night, bringing with it squalls and strong winds.
After the front, winds are forecast to shift to a northwesterly quadrant and remain in the 20s, with higher gusts. In short, everything is preparing for a “real” Newport Bermuda Race in the ocean.
Record Run a possibility
The record in major divisions—St. David’s Lighthouse (limits on professional crew) and Gibbs Hill Lighthouse (no limits) – is 39 hours and 39 minutes, set by George David’s maxi yacht Rambler 90 in 2012, an average speed of 16 knots.
The Open Division course record is 34 hours and 42 minutes (average speed 18.3 knots), set by the 100ft maxi yacht Comanche, skippered by North Sails chairman Ken Read, in 2016. ( Open Division yachts are not eligible for general race prizes.)
This year’s fleet includes two multihulls capable of some fast speeds, including Jason Carroll’s MOD70 Argo (New York City) and the 80ft VPLP trimaran Ultim’emotion2, owned by Antoine Rabaste (Nîmes, France) and skippered by Jacek Siwek (Overijse, Belgium).
In the 2018 Bermuda Race, the first time multihulls were entered, Carroll and his crew sailed the Gunboat 62 Elvis to take top honors in 63 hours. Carroll then switched to the foil-assisted trimaran Argo and set seven race or world records. The Newport Bermuda Race multihull record could well be next.
“It looks like a tough, but fast race for us,” said Chad Corning, 50 (New Rochelle, New York), crew member and program manager. “We should have a gusty pre-frontal breeze all the time.
“Our elapsed time looks like 28 hours on the Global Forecast System and 26 hours on the European model. The high resolution (HRR) model is just being developed, but they all seem pretty consistent. We will have to balance caution and speed, so we will probably sail at 92% of the polars.
The unique and notable entry in the Open Division is Mālama, the new foil-assisted IMOCA 60 launched by 11th Hour Racing and skipper Charlie Enright (Barrington, Rhode Island) for The Ocean Race next year, from Spain in January 2023. Could Mālama surpassed Comanche’s open division mark?
“Yes, it’s totally possible, but it’s never that simple,” said Enright, 37, who is preparing for his third round-the-world race. “A lot depends on the timing of the front, and the biggest variable is the sea state. I feel like we’re going 30 knots every time we leave the dock. We have reached a maximum of 38 knots, but breaking records is more about high sustained average speeds.
A race of challenges
Since its inception in 1906, the Bermuda Race has presented different types of challenges, including navigation, seamanship and personal limits. Navigation plays a huge role as the fleet traverses the Gulf Stream, the warm ocean current that flows from the northeast off the east coast of the United States. Navigating in a favorable current where the Stream meanders and avoiding contrary currents on the wrong side of the whirlpools is often the key to victory.
It’s a test of seamanship because you have to get the boat, the sails and the fittings to work correctly to finish and win, judging when to press hard and when to slow down a little to preserve the boat’s equipment. Likewise, it is a test of personal limits as sleep deprivation and lack of food become major factors for a crew when the going gets tough.
“The call is racing history,” said 74-year-old Michael Cone (Philadelphia, Pa.), who won the coveted St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy in 2014 with his vintage Hinckley 40 Actaea. “The competition is exciting. It’s a real test, it’s a marathon and it demands something different from the sailor. The Bermuda race athlete needs to understand that he is fatigued and how to deal with it.
The fleet is divided into eight divisions, creating eight races in one among similar boats and crews: Double (16 entered), Finisterre (40), Gibbs Hill Lighthouse (18), Multihull (2), Open (1), Spirit of Tradition (1), St. David’s Lighthouse (108) and Superyacht (1). Of the eight divisions, 19 classes were formed. (Note: Fleet size is subject to change based on start time.)
The smallest boat in the fleet is Thomas O’Connell’s J/99 Finale (Stonington, Conn.) at 32.6 feet, entered in the double-handed division. “She’s a tenth over the minimum length,” said O’Connell, 75, from Sussex, England.
Not only is he sailing the smallest boat in the fleet, he is also taking part in his first Newport Bermuda Race. “I always wanted to race, but my previous boats wouldn’t have passed the inspection. I’m tickled pink for racing. Doing it in pairs only adds another challenge.
The largest vessel, the steel-hulled fishing schooner Columbia, owned by Martin Sutter (Austin, Texas), is 141 feet in overall length. Columbia is modeled after the original 141-foot Gloucester wooden fishing schooner built in 1923.
Legend has it that the original Columbia was the only American fishing schooner that could challenge the famous Canadian schooner Bluenose in the 1920s. perfect for covering the course at record speed, as predicted by the forecasts.
Among other monohulls, Oakcliff Sailing’s maxi yacht OC86 (née Windquest), with Hall of Fame sailor Dawn Riley in charge, is one to watch, as is the Volvo 70 Il Mostro, campaigned by Atlas Ocean Racing. of Canada.
Another competitor is the popular Mills 68 Prospector, owned by Lawrence Landry (Shelter Island Heights, New York), Paul McDowell (New York) and Martin Roesch (Fulton, Maryland).
“We feel good with the boat and its preparations, thanks to our captain Terence Glackin,” said McDowell. “It looks like hard work for the first 24-36 hours, it probably won’t be much fun, but it should be quick. We’ve covered over 10,000 nautical miles with this boat since 2016, so we’re confident we’re well prepared.
The youth is served—once again
About 65 participants from 2018 return this year, including seven class winners. There are young sailors spread throughout the fleet, like 16-year-old Ella Orem (Belmont, Mass.), E-steward on her grandfather’s Naiad 440 Wassail. The Mudratz Offshore team returns for their second race, this time aboard the Corel 45 Spitfire. The seven young sailors, among a crew of 11, are on average 18 years old.
One of the youngest crew in this year’s race, probably in Bermuda racing history, is the 40ft Oakcliff Blue – Team Bitter End.
Skippered by 18-year-old Sophia Comiskey (Tiverton, Rhode Island), the 10-person crew includes eight young women from Rhode Island, ages 16-19, classmates together at Lincoln School (Providence, Rhode Island), plus the turn of -world sailor Libby Greenhalgh and Maya Hoffman as onboard coaches.
The girls, who are each competing in their first race in Bermuda, have been training for the race since last year. Together they covered more than 2,000 nautical miles preparing for the Bermuda Race.
“Yeah, I’m nervous, but more excited,” said Elizabeth Gardner, 17 (Newport, Rhode Island), the headsail trimmer. “In some of our practices, there have been times when I’m on deck at night and there’s gusts and I think, ‘I don’t want to do this.’
“I try to turn things around and be like, ‘I have to do this. It helps to put things into perspective. We make history. It’s a unique experience with all of us together. Maybe this will be the last time together, depending on who’s left to sail. We are very confident and we think we have managed the preparation for the race well.
Event Information – Race Details – Entry List – Tracker
The 52nd race of the Newport Bermuda Race, co-hosted by the Cruising Club of America (CCA) and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC), is scheduled to start Friday, June 17, 2022 at the entrance to the East Passage of Rhode Narragansett Bay island, with the first warning signal scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
First held in 1906, the Bermuda Race is the oldest of the five major 600 nautical mile races and is preceded only by the Transatlantic Race. The 2022 fleet has 187 participants who will be divided into eight divisions: Double, Finisterre (for cruisers), Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Multihull, Open, Spirit of Tradition, St. David’s Lighthouse and Superyacht.