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The Newport to Bermuda race

The first Newport to Bermuda race took place in 1906, and is therefore the oldest ocean race for amateur sailors. After leaving the harbour at Newport, Rhode Island last Thursday 188 yachts spent three to four days out at sea in the very cold water of the Atlantic. They crossed the very unpredictable Gulf Stream, where the weather and the current presents a real challenge and many boats have in the past come a cropper. Then for 300 smooth miles the water warms as the yachts race for the reefs and the finish line in Bermuda.

The bi-annual race finishes at St David’s Head at the very eastern tip of the island and first to cross the line was the 90-foot sloop named Rambler, captained by George David from Hartford, Connecticut.

Rambler crushed the course record by an incredible 14 hours and averaged a speed of 16.06 knots down the 635-mle course finishing it on Sunday in a time of 39 hours, 39 minutes, 18 seconds. The previous course record was set in 2002 by Pyewacket Morning Glory, which averaged 11.8 knots.

Scott King from 4th placed Team Tiburon said their boat covered “385 miles in the first 24 hours in the race, averaging almost 17 knots with the water constantly rough with some waves 8 feet or higher and water constantly on deck, pushing sailors around.”

The Gulf Stream crossing was not as rough as he expected, he said, but it was spectacularly beautiful. “Just before we entered the Gulf Stream we saw a long streak of phosphorescence in the water, as though a full moon was out and shining right down on it. The phosphorescence disappeared when the boat charged into the main body of the Gulf Stream, but reappeared. Dolphins were torpedoing through all this, right in front of us,” King said.

Hundreds of sailors, including many Bermudians, have been regaling locals and tourists alike with their stories in the bars of Hamilton this week and now an assembly of yachts with brightly coloured flags adorns the dock at Hamilton Harbour.

I have been fortunate enough to get invited out to get a closer look at some of the boats over some drinks tonight. The sun’s out, there’s no football and it should be fun.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dave #

    Your homecoming!

    June 20, 2012

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