The Onion Patch Series Celebrates a Half Century

Last year’s Rolex NYYC Annual Regatta, which serves as the first part of the Onion Patch. Photos courtesy of Rolex/NYYC

It’s been said the Newport Bermuda Race is held only once every two years because it takes that long for the memories of how tough the last one was to fade sufficiently to entice crews to sign on for another.

For those who can’t get enough of a good thing, though, there’s the storied Onion Patch Series, which brackets the 635-mile Newport-Bermuda with a pair of regattas immediately before and after the main event—a triple dose of hardcore sailing that is marking its 50th year in 2014.

Established in 1964, the series was originally created to serve as a contest between national teams. The first Onion Patch trophy went to the U.S.-flagged trio of Shearwater, Reindeer and Prim.

Carina competing in the series back in the late 1970s. Photo courtesy of Onion Patch Series/ Paul J. Mello

The series has gone through a number of iterations and currently includes results from the New York Yacht Club’s annual regatta, the Newport Bermuda Race, which begins June 20, and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s anniversary regatta on June 27.

Although boats compete individually, they are also still encouraged to create three-boat teams representing nations, clubs or other “associations.” In 2012 it was Stephen Murray’s Carkeek 40, Decision, that earned the individual win, and the New York YC “red” team of Christopher Dragon, Carina and Gold Digger that took the team series.

For more on the storied half-century tradition, visit

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