Newport-Bermuda race on track
Three weeks into the entry process for the 48th Newport Bermuda Race, applications for entry for the 2012 race continue to roll in at a rapid rate for the 106-year-old biennial ocean-racing classic, with expectations of another large fleet.
Brin Ford, Database Chairman for the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee, commented: “As of 3 February, the rate of entries was exactly on pace with the 2010 race with 105 boats having submitted Applications for Entry (AFE).”
The Newport Bermuda Race is an invitational event, so skippers must submit an application and receive an invitation before completing the registration process. The 2010 race was the third largest ever, with 183 boats. The only bigger fleets were 264 in the 2006 Centennial Race and 198 in 2008.
“Of the 105 AFE’s submitted,” Ford continued, “77 are now approved for their invitation, 35 need to provide Experience Forms, and the rest are pending. 33 skippers say their boat has not done the race before. We’re still missing many of our old friends, but they have time to enter before the April 15th deadline without paying an extra late fee. An additional 17 captains have begun the registration process, but have yet to file an AFE.”
Newport Bermuda Race Chairman and a multi-race veteran, Dr John Osmond, is enthusiastic about the prospects for another successful race with a large fleet: “The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee is gratified by this early response which shadows the very successful 2010 experience. The Organizing Committee, the Race Ambassadors (mentors for newcomers), and the Inspectors – some 140 volunteers in all – are deeply interested in presenting for our sailing friends an unparalleled racing and social experience. That is the tradition of this wonderful event.”
Some experienced Bermuda Race skippers are coming back. Among the returning boats is Rives Potts’ McCurdy & Rhodes 48 Carina. She was the St David’s Lighthouse Trophy winner in 2010 and also 1970, and is a veteran of 16 Bermuda Races over 40 years. Carina is now sailing home from Australia under the command of Potts’ son and nephew after competing in December’s Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race. Prior to that, she sailed in the Transatlantic Race 2011 from Newport to England and the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race before sailing to Australia. Carina will have sailed more than 30,000 miles in less than a year by the start of the 2012 Bermuda Race.
So far, other returning Lighthouse winners are Sinn Fein, Peter Rebovich’s Cal 40 winner of the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy in 2006 and 2008 and Llwyd Ecclestone’s Frers 68 Kodiak (West Palm Beach, FL).
The classic S&S yawl Dorade, which did her first Bermuda Race under the command of Olin Stephens in 1930, will be sailed by new owner Matt Brooks from San Francisco. Charlie Robertson is returning after a 15-year absence with his Frers Mini-Maxi Cannonball. This is the big yellow boat he sailed back in 1988 to win first place in IMS.
Jimmy Sykes has sailed two yachts named Bombardino, a J/130 once and his current Santa Cruz 52 seven times. He notes, “I have skippered all eight races and approximately half the crew have been on board for all of the races. Our best finish in class was first in 2008 and worst in class was 13th. Fleetwise, in 2006 we were sixth in fleet and third in class. I have done this many races because two of my three children were on board for all of the races and all three children were aboard on two. They keep me coming back.”
Among stock boat builders, currently J Boats has 21 entries, Swan has 12 and Beneteau has 8. Designer/builders with two or more entries include Peterson, McCurdy & Rhodes, S&S, Santa Cruz, Tartan, Hinckley, C&C, Cal, Baltic, IMX, Ker, Morris, Sabre and Hallberg Rassy. Gold Digger, Jim Bishop’s J/44 and Robert Foreman’s Hinckley SW 42 Jacqueline IV will be back for their 12th races. Gracie, Steve and Simon Frank’s McCurdy & Rhodes 69 will be sailing her 11th race.
Many entries are expected to sail the triathlon of offshore racing by entering the Onion Patch Series, a three-event series in which boats and crews first compete in the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta in Newport, then race to Bermuda, and finally participate in the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta.