104th Newport Bermuda Slow and Steady
It was a slow start for the 183-boat fleet as nearly 2,000 sailors began the 635-mile race across the Gulf Steam from Newport to Bermuda on June 18. With 16 classes underway, this years Newport-Bermuda race boasted the third largest fleet in the races 104-year history.
By sunset on the second day, Alex Jacksons 100ft maxi sloop Speedboat took the lead from Tom Hills Titan XV as the fleet raced toward Bermuda on a fast close reach with clear visibility and a moderate southwest wind that gradually strengthened and clocked toward the west.
On the morning of the third day, June 20, the big-boat leaders were clear of the Stream and entered the 250-mile stretch of the typically confused winds and currents between the Stream and Bermudathe area race veterans wryly call Happy Valley, where the race is won and lost.
Also leading in her class was Rives Potts 48ft sloop Carina, who sailed 60 miles ahead of Joseph Meles Triple Lindy, the next boat in her class, quickly putting her within 300 nautical miles of Bermuda.
Nearly 60 hours after crossing the start line, Speedboat sailed across the finish line on June 21 at 0349 EDT. Finishing second at 0625 was Ken Reads 70ft Volvo Ocean Race boat, Il Mostro.
Larger boats, over 80 feet, averaged two to three days to finish, while smaller boats, 33-40 feet, reached Bermuda in four to six days.
The last boat, John Melvins 39ft wooden Concordia Westray, arrived at St. Davids Head on June 23 at 2217, rounding out the fleet and closing the Newport-Bermuda race.
A prize giving ceremony took place on June 26 at Bermudas Government House where Bermuda Governor Richard Gozney and a number of guest presenters handed out 113 trophies and prizes as well as a special award for race chairman Bjorn Johnson.
Among this years winners were Carina, who took home 11 awards, capped off by the coveted St. Daviss Lighthouse Trophy. Sir Geoffrey Mulcahys Noonmark VI won Class 9 and the 13-boat Gibbs Hill Lighthouse ORR Division. Neal Finnegans Clover III won Class 13 and the 38-boat Cruiser Division, taking home the Carleton Mitchell Finisterre Trophy. Mark Watsons Genuine Risk won first in Class 16 and the Open Divisions Royal Mail Trophy.
Look at some of the facts of the race. You can sail it with two people. You can sail it with 26 of your closest friends. You can sail it in a cozy 33-footer or a cavernous 100-footer, you can sail a 41-year-old boat like Carina and win, or you can sail a shiny new boat, said Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Peter Shrubb in his opening address at Saturdays prize giving ceremony. Young, old, big, small, modern, antique, rich, poor, novice ocean racer or old sea dog. It really doesnt matter. Its all incredible, racing to Bermuda. Its priceless. The memories will last forever.