Just around the corner is the highly-anticipated 48th Newport Bermuda Sailboat Race. In mid-June every other year since 1906, sailors have competed in the 635-mile ocean race from Newport, Rhode Island to St. David’s Head, Bermuda. Despite its difficulty, due to its length and often challenging weather conditions in the first half of the stretch, organizers of the race are anticipating a large fleet partaking this year. With the exception of the locals, sailors from every corner of the earth will use boat shipping companies to transport their boats to Newport to make it there by June 15th, the opening day of the race.
The race is quite unique for a few reasons. First off, the competition is by invitation only. After sailors complete their application, they must wait for their invite. Entrance is granted only to only select skippers and crews. Another aspect that sets it apart is the fact that sailboats of all sizes can compete and have a chance at winning. Usually, smaller boats tend to be the leading competitors in sailboat races. But that is not the case in the Newport Bermuda Race.
Yacht enthusiasts from all over the world look forward to this biennial race. It showcases such a vast collection of sailboats, many of them shipped there by international boat shipping companies. From the newest, most state of the art vessels to the most conservative and traditional, you will find them all at the starting line in Newport Harbor. There are always many stock boat builders present at the 100 year old race. Some of this year’s heavy hitters are J Boats with 21 entries, Swan with 12, and Beneteau with 8.
The sailors will compete in 5 racing class divisions. They are: St. David’s—for amateurs on dual purpose racer-cruiser boats; Gibbs Hill—for professional crews on modern competitive boat; Double-handed—only two people on each boat; Cruising—for amateurs crews on boats not designed for racing; and Demonstration—for boats of a size or construction type beyond the normal range of the fleet.
Many experienced Bermuda Race captains and their sailboats will be returning to this year’s race. Amongst them is Rives Potts’ McCurdy & Rhodes, a 48 Carina of Westbrook, Conn. Potts was the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy winner in 2010 and also 1970, and is a veteran of 16 Bermuda Races in over 40 years. Some other returning Lighthouse winners are Sinn Fein, Peter Rebovich’s Cal 40 of Metuchen, NJ, winner of the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy in 2006 and 2008, and Llwyd Ecclestone’s Frers 68 Kodiak of West Palm Beach, Fla.
The Newport Bermuda Race represents the spirit of the family. In 2006, nearly 90% of the captains and crews were friends and family. The race is also known internationally for competitive fairness, an excellent safety record, and a commendable race organization which is taken on by the volunteer members of the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. “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,” commented Dr. John Osmond, Newport Bermuda Race Chairman and a multi-race veteran.
International boat shipping companies should expect to see an increase of voyage bookings, as races such as the Newport Bermuda Race continue to grow. As of March 25th there were already 172 sailboats entered in the ocean race, many of them from overseas, with even more still expected to apply. As the deadline for applications approaches on April 15th, organizers predict that this year’s race will surpass the 2010 race which was the third largest in all of history with 183 boats.