The Fleet Arrives in Bermuda

There was a fine welcome when I arrived at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club for the first time. When the 75-footer Titan XV pulled in Monday morning, the sun was shining, the bar was open and a few sailors were quietly sipping their first dark ’n stormy. I thought, “This could not get any better. This is paradise.”

Then came Tuesday morning. As boats began to flow into the basin like the Thanksgiving Day parade, colorful battle flags were flying, trays of drinks were carried down the pier by beautiful wives and girlfriends in sun dresses, and the patio overflowed with cheerful sailors, friends, and families. Now I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get that kind of greeting. Maybe sailing to Bermuda in a big, fast boat is not the be-all and end-all way to experience this race.

Offshore sailing is often more about the journey than arriving at the destination. When I interviewed Sam Davies, the British female phenom solo sailor, after her fourth place in the last Vendee Globe, she said that finishing an offshore race is a bit anticlimactic. I tend to agree. But the reception the sailors are getting here in Hamilton as the smaller boats trickle in is not at all anticlimactic. (Text continued below video)

In fact, it’s spectacular. Take the same scene I came into on Monday, add 10 times the number of boats and people, insert some fruity drinks and music, and you have the welcoming party that’s been going on since Tuesday morning, with people diving off the docks and greeting new arrivals with cheers. “By the time the small boats come in, the party is rockin,” said Sheila McCurdy, the CCA Commodore. “It’s a real celebration.”

I’ m here to see it, and I’m grateful for that. It’s just that I got here a little too quick. The little guys get more sailing time for their money, and one hell of a welcome. Next time, maybe I’ll come down in a smaller boat.

For more on the Newport Bermuda race, please click here.

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