2016 Newport Bermuda Race start - Newport Bermuda fleet shrinks
By Talbot Wilson
Racing in the 50th Thrash to the Onion Patch got underway right on schedule. It was a routine sequence with boats sailing close on the wind heading south to Bermuda. It was a flood tide, so only one boat was over early. Race historian John Rousmaniere said it was the most routine start he had ever seen.
Up until mid-week the race looked to be the second or third largest in history. Then the weather forecasts began predicting gales in and below the Gulf Stream. Following the weather briefing on Thursday night boats began withdrawing from the race. Finally 47 boats that had entered decided not to race. That brought the total from 184 on Monday to 142.
COMANCHE skippered by Ken Read, blasts away from the start at 25knots, in the hope of breaking the course record of 39 hours 39 minutes. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL
The 100-foot ‘Comanche’ took off in the last start, the Open Division, and drew a crowd of press boats at the beginning of her record-breaking attempt. The record of 39hr 39min 18sec was set by the 88-foot 'Rambler' in 2012.
In his morning briefing to the fleet, Chairman AJ Evans told the skippers that Commanders Weather advised and the committee suggests that if skippers decided to withdraw after starting they should decide before entering the Gulf Stream. He emphasized once again that the decision to race is the responsibility of the yacht’s person in charge.
Watch the start and follow your favorites to Bermuda
If you could not go to Newport for the start, the start can come to you. Watch a replay of live video and commentary of the start on Livestream. Commentator Andy Green hosted the program from the Inn at Castle Hill overlooking the starting line. With cameras on the hill and on the water, he is close to the action bringing live sailing directly to you.
Green will now post race updates with commentary at 10AM EDT, and at 12, 2, and 5PM daily throughout the race. Facebook, twitter, and the web will be buzzing with news and reports.
Close start for Class 14 cruiser division. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL
SPIRIT OF BERMUDA leads AMERICA skippered by Troy Sears leads the fleet away in the Spirit of tradition class. Photo: Barry PickthallPPL
Virtual spectators can watch the race unfold as their favorite yachts, skippers, or crewmembers in this 635-mile ocean classic tack and gybe their way through the Gulf Stream and hunt for the wind in the ‘happy valley’ north of Bermuda. All boats in the 2016 fleet will be tracked by YB satellite trackers as live as it can be on Pantaenius Race Tracking - www.pantaenius.com/NBRtracking - your link to all the action in the race.
ACTAEA skippered by Michael Cone (winner of the St David's Lighthouse division in 2014 neck and neck with FLYER (Douglas Abbott) Photo: Barry Pickthall/PPL
BLACK WATCH a classic S&S designed yawl skippered by John Melvin and Trevor Fetter. Photo: Barry Pickthall/PPL
About the CCA/RBYC Newport Bermuda Race
Few tests of blue-water seamanship are as iconic as the 635-mile Newport Bermuda Race. The 2016 race (starting on June 17) is the 50th and also marks the 90th anniversary of the partnership of the organizers, the Cruising Club of America and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
Sailed almost entirely out of sight of land, the Bermuda Race was created in 1906 by Thomas Fleming Day, a yachting writer who believed in the then-radical idea that amateur sailors in small yachts could sail safely in blue water. The colorful Tom Day was a pioneer in the sport of long-distance racing. In the 1920's the race inspired Britain's Fastnet Race and the Royal Ocean Racing Club, and also the freshwater Bayview-Mackinac Race on Lake Huron.
An international fleet of some 190 boats will race in this biennial race. Many will also compete in the three event Onion Patch Series which includes the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta presented by Rolex in Newport and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta in Bermuda.
The 2016 Newport Bermuda Race has six divisions, each with its divisional and class awards. The race has no single winner and hands out well over 100 trophies and prizes.
- St. David’s Lighthouse Division: cruiser-racers with amateur helmsmen.
- Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division: racers with professional helmsmen permitted.
- Cruiser Division: cruisers/passagemakers with amateur helmsmen.
- Double-Handed Division: one crew may be a professional.
- Open Division: cant-keel racers with professional helmsmen permitted.
- Spirit of Tradition Division: replicas and other traditional boats.
See more at the ‘About’ tab on the race website. ABOUT THE RACE
- Bermuda Tourism Authority
- Rhode Island Sailing Events Commission
- Goslings Ltd
- Newport Shipyard
- Pantaenius Insurance
- Brewer Yacht Yards
- BFM Insurance Group
- Helly Hansen Newport
- Hinckley Yachts
- Real Watersports
- Mustang Survival
- Digicel Bermuda
- Edurance Exploration LLC