It’s been a season full of disappointments for sailors as race after race have been cancelled, but some sailing centers are using their clean slates as a chance to reimagine what’s possible. The Spirit of Bermuda Charity Rally is one such event, announced as a collaboration between the Bermuda Sloop Foundation (BSF), East End Mini Yacht Club (EEMYC) and the Sailing Yacht Research Foundation (SYRF).
Though slugged as a rally, this event is actually more of a rally-race hybrid with prizes for performance as well as amount raised for the Spirit of Bermuda Charity to support youth sailing programs on the vessel of the same name. But like a rally, participants have a range of start options, including flexibility as to when they leave as well as two different offshore course starts. The first is just south of Newport and the second east of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
This begs the obvious question, how is scoring going to work? With a lot number crunching, apparently. The SYRF Offshore Scoring system has been developed to eliminate the different conditions, courses and types of boats from basing their scoring. Simply put, the RC will calculate the potential speed of each boat and then create a ratio of real-time spent racing to potential time spent racing. The ratio will be the boat’s score, taking bias factors into account and presumably selecting the crew who sailed with the most efficiency, regardless of their boat or conditions. "We hope this innovation will open the way to other new formats for offshore racing where yachts may sail different course, times and weather and be scored together. Starting and finishing in offshore locations will also help with the accuracy of this method because it minimizes any land-based weather effects encountered closer inshore." Said Larry Rosenfeld, the Technical Director on the Board of SYRF and a principal organizer of the Spirit of Bermuda Charity Rally.
The racers have the option of completing the triangle course and heading home or hanging around in Bermuda for a bit and becoming some of Bermuda’s first visitors since re-opening for tourism. "Like many aspects of life in COVID times, it is innovative thinking like this that can help fulfill the excitement and passion that offshore sailors have for going to sea," said Stan Honey, Chairman of SYRF and world-renowned offshore navigator. "We're really pleased to have this support from Bermuda to put this bold idea to the test in these challenging times."