Newport-Bermuda race preview

This classic ocean race kicks off this Friday

Thursday June 13th 2002, Author: Talbot Wilson, Location: United States
With 184 entries on the list, the Cruising Club of America and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club are set for the start of their classic ocean race this Friday June 14 at 1255hrs. It looks like the previous entry record of 178 boats set in both 1972 and 1982 will be broken.

Final check-ins are underway in Newport for the 43rd biennial Newport Bermuda "thrash to the Onion Patch." Normal attrition and some inspection failures have reduced the final total from the list of entry applicants which had settled in at 196 boats by the May 15th deadline for formal entry and submission of supporting documents.

The 184 boat fleet will be divided into five Divisions: 136 in IMS Cruiser/racer, 10 in IMS Racing, 26 in AMERICAP II Cruising Non-Spinnaker, 2 in AMERICAP II Classic Non-Spinnaker, and 10 in AMERICAP II Double-handed spinnaker.

The New York Yacht Club starting line committee will fire the five-minute gun and hoist the first class flag at 1250hrs and the first start will be at 1255hrs. Unless otherwise delayed by the Race committee, the warning signal for each succeeding class start will be made five minutes after the starting signal for the preceding class, so there should be ten minutes between starts.

The primary starting area will be roughly between the Castle Hill and Beaver Tail Lighthouses at the mouth of Narragansett Bay. Inclement weather would force an "outside" start seaward of the R"2" QR Whistle Buoy.

Two different Lighthouse Trophies will be awarded for the first time in 2002, so every IMS competitor will have a shot at taking home one of two coveted Lighthouse trophies. The joint Cruising Club of America (CCA) and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) Bermuda Race Organising Committee will bring back the original Gibb's Hill Lighthouse Trophy to stand alongside the St. David's Lighthouse Trophy for the elapse time winners in IMS Racing and Cruiser/Racer Divisions.

This year George Coumantaros' maxi Boomerang, which won the St David's Lighthouse in 1996 setting the record at 57hr:31sec:50min, has the unique chance to take home the 'new' Gibb's Hill Lighthouse as well. He sailed that year with an amateur crew eligible for the St. David's Lighthouse. This year he is in the Racing Division and sailing for another milestone.

The Gibb's Hill Lighthouse has been awarded once in the past. After a hiatus in racing during WWII, the race resumed in 1946. The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club decided to mark the resumption of the race by offering a sterling silver replica of the Gibb's Hill Lighthouse in place of the traditional Bermuda Trophy to the overall winner of the race. The trophy was 16" high and was mounted with a miniature beacon. The 1946 Gibb's Hill Lighthouse Trophy went to Howard Fuller's sloop Gesture.

The Newport Bermuda Race stands with the Fastnet, the Sydney-Hobart and the Transpac as one of the top four ocean races in the world. This race, organised by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and the Cruising Club of America, is always a true test of bluewater sailing skills. The objectives of the race are to encourage the designing, building and sailing of seaworthy yachts and the development of the art of seamanship and proficiency in the science of navigation.

For a list of entries please see page 2...

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