sailboat racing

Maxi Speedboat First to Reach Bermuda

Maxi Speedboat First to Reach Bermuda

Maxi Speedboat at start of 2010 Newport Bermuda Race. Photo: Barry Pickthall/PPL

Maxi Speedboat at start of 2010 Newport Bermuda Race. Photo: Barry Pickthall/PPL

John Rousmaniere reports from the Newport Bermuda Race Committee that “Alex Jackson’s maxi 100-footer sloop Speedboat finished the Newport Bermuda Race early Monday morning at 3:49 AM EDT. Finishing second at 6:25 was Il Mostro (Puma), a 70-foot Volvo Ocean Race boat sailed by Kenny Read, whose brother, Brad, was in Speedboat’s afterguard.  Boat boats sailed in the Open Division for racing yachts with canting keels.”

Here’s an interesting video from Sailing Anarchy on YouTube that gives you a detailed tour of the deck of Speedboat. The tech level is impressive. These are NOT inexpensive boats.

Quite a few boats are still slowly beating their way toward the Onion Patch, with light winds from the SW dominating.  Says, Rousmaniere, “It was a slow race, with Speedboat making the 635-mile course in just over 59 hours after the start at Newport on Friday.  The crew of 25 never reefed the boat. In the light to moderate conditions that prevailed through most of the race, Speedboat was hard pressed by Il Mostro, Rambler, and several boats in the mini-maxi 70-80 foot range over the first third of the course.  “We really didn’t get away from them until we were in the Stream,” navigator Stan Honey said after Speedboat tied up at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s marina early Monday morning. “Then they gained a lot in the light stuff as we came into the finish.” ”

One of the great traditions of the Newport Bermuda race is the ritual drink offered to arriving sailors.  Called a “Dark and Stormy,” it’s been called the “national drink of Bermuda.” Here’s a nice recipe from cocktail blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Don’t forget a squeeze of lime! How about serving them up after your next dinghy race back to the boat?

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Sail, Passagemaking News, sailboat racing, Sailboats, seamanship, Technology
Newport Bermuda Race Underway

Newport Bermuda Race Underway

Start of the Newport Bermuda Race. Photo: Barry Pickthall, PPL

Start of the Newport Bermuda Race. Photo: Barry Pickthall, PPL

The 184 boats of the 2010 Newport Bermuda Race are heading out to sea as this is written. The latest weather forecasts indicate a lot of reaching, a nice strong Gulf Stream with eddies-a-plenty to deal with, and the notorious Bermuda High building in from the south. In fact, a quick look at the 24-48 hour surface wind forecasts from the National Weather Service (NWS) give the impression that a square-rigged tall ship would do well this year, with a stiff breeze well abaft of the beam to start.

I’ve put up a link to the iBoattrack service in the right sidebar that will remain live for the duration of the race. As I mentioned earlier this week, it’s a fascinating way to watch strategies develop, with the consequent successes and failures becoming more apparent as time goes on. Each boat is fitted with a satellite beacon that sends its position to the iBoattracking station ashore. The displays are not quite real-time because of race rules that prevent real-time competitive observation, but they’re close enough to be meaningful when you check in.

The video below from the official organizers gives a great flavor of the race. Newport Bermuda is one of the unique sailing races in the world because of its amateur-dominant culture.  Yes, there are professional crews — in their own class — but most of the competitors are friends and family, racing in their own family boats. Some are more serious and experienced racers than others, but all have met the rigorous standards for safety and experience.  Enjoy the videos and tracking and if you know of someone in the race, let us know in the comments and we’ll follow along with them!

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Sail, Destinations, Passagemaking News, sailboat racing, Sailboats
Newport Bermuda Race Nears Start

Newport Bermuda Race Nears Start

A Newport Bermuda Race Start - Photo Credit: PPL

A Newport Bermuda Race Start - Photo Credit: PPL

The 47th edition of the famed Newport to Bermuda sailing race is now less than four days away from its June 18 start in Newport, Rhode Island. Readers who want to follow the 188-boat fleet online have a great resource available from the iBoattrack service.  Here’s how the race organizers describe the tracking system:

“Once the fleet has disappeared from view, digital spectators can follow their favorite boat, class or division online. Go to the Newport Bermuda web site,  then click on the ‘Go to Race tracking’ within the Race Tracking window on the left, and follow the prompts. On the Boat Mapper page you can track individual boats, classes and divisions and add Gulf Steam as well as wind speed and direction graphics to the screen.

Because the racing crews can also log on to these tracks, the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee will impose a tracking delay during the race in order to satisfy the rule barring outside assistance. Positions seen on your screen will be the previous position for each boat.

George Owen, of iBoatTrack, points to a few improvements to the system. “Since we last tracked the Newport Bermuda Race in 2008, we have converted our main mapping interface to the more user-friendly Google Maps first used as a trial two years ago,” he explains.

In addition, the former ‘Leader Board’ function has been changed to a ‘Progress Board’ which provides information based solely on the boat’s tracker. This displays the progress of each boat on a ‘percentage completed’ bar. i.e. If the racer is halfway to Bermuda, 50% of the bar will be shaded blue. This is shown as a percentage of a yacht’s straight-line course to Bermuda and is not a tactical estimate.

The classic Newport Bermuda Race is organized by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. The New York Yacht Club Race Committee sets the starting line and makes sure all boats start in proper fashion. The record, set in 2002, is held by the late Roy Disney’s Pywacket with a time of 53 hours, 39 minutes 22 seconds.”

We will have continuing coverage of the race here on OceanLines, so stop back for the latest news and interesting features. If YOU have ever participated in this race, please let us know in the comments. We’d like to hear about your experiences.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Sail, sailboat racing, Sailboats, seamanship

Ocean Racing World Mourns Roy Disney

Roy Disney at the Helm of Pyewacket

Roy Disney at the Helm of Pyewacket

Roy Disney, whose family legacy is forever etched in the memories of generations of children, and whose accomplishments as an open ocean sailor were truly remarkable, died last week at the age of 79.  The colorful Disney built and helmed a number of open class racers, all named Pyewacket, the name of the witch’s cat in the 1858 Disney film “Bell, Book & Candle.”  Disney’s boats typically employed cutting-edge technology and set several elapsed time records in races such as the Transpacific Yacht Race, known familiarly as the Transpac, as well as the Newport-Bermuda Race and the Chicago-Mackinac Race.

Roy Disney's Pyewacket Shows its Canting Keel

Roy Disney's Pyewacket Shows its Canting Keel -- Photo by Thierry Martinez

Gary Jobson, president of US SAILING, had this to say about what Disney meant to the sport: “Roy Disney was great for the sport of sailing. He set a high example for all of us, as a top competitor, visionary and philanthropist. Roy has inspired so many young people to follow their dream of life on the water. Our sport will miss him.”

According to U.S. Sailing, Disney’s involvement in the sport goes back decades.  As a long-time, reliable supporter of the sport, his impact has been has been felt across the board: from youth sailing to the Olympic level of the sport and beyond.  In 2008, US SAILING, national governing body of the sport, awarded Disney its prestigious Nathanael G. Herreshoff Trophy for his outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing in the U.S. over many years. When US SAILING created the medalist donor program to support the athletes of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, Disney was the first donor to jump on board at the highest level.  He was also a top contributor to the California International Sailing Association and several other sailing organizations.

Copyright © 2009 by OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Boats, Cruising Under Sail, megayachts, Passagemaking News, People, People & Profiles, sailboat racing, Sailboats, Technology

First-Timer Sails Newport to Bermuda Race

Class Start at the 2008 Newport Bermuda Race  --Photo: Daniel Forster/Talbot Wilson/PPL

Class Start at the 2008 Newport Bermuda Race -- Photo: Daniel Forster/Talbot Wilson/PPL

I’ll bet many readers have a fantasy about doing this.  I do and many of my sailing friends do, too.  I’ll also bet the following quote from Richard Donn, captain of the Poeske, pretty much sums up how we would all describe our circumstance; except of course, that he followed through.

“Entering the 2008 Newport-Bermuda Race fulfilled a dream which was conceived early on in my sailing career but incubated slowly and only came to fruition in this year’s race to the Onion Patch.  For a 64-year-old man with a 25-year-old boat, the anticipation of the race was a mixture of excitement, apprehension, desire, and anxiety.”

— Richard Donn, Poeske

The Newport – Bermuda race is one of sailings oldest and most prestigious races.  Held every two years, the races features everything from gigantic ocean maxi racers with dozens of crewmen  to small, seaworthy cruisers sailing double-handed.  There are first-timers and there are teams and individuals (and boats) who have dozens of races under their belts.  It is not for the faint-hearted; with a 635-mile Atlantic Ocean trek that involves crossing the capricious Gulf Stream.

Richard Donn (center) with family and crew at race finish

Richard Donn (center) with family and crew at race finish

In 2008, nearly 200 boats raced to Bermuda and one of the entries was a 1983 Beneteau First 42, with a deep keel and tall rig.  Donn had crewed in the Marion-Bermuda race in 2005, and in 2006 did the return trip from Bermuda to Newport.  He and two of his crewmembers also crossed the Atlantic in the 2007 ARC.  Donn tells his story of entering the 2008 race on his own, in his own boat in a special feature on the Newport-Bermuda race site.  It’s been up for several months now, but it’s such a compelling story and one that resonates with so many of us that I thought I’d bring your attention to it.

In his piece, Donn covers the decision to enter, details about his crew and how he picked them, information about his boat and the rigorous inspection process required by the race organizers to ensure safety, and of course the experience of the race itself.  At the urging of John Rousmaniere, Donn includes an honest and extensive list of “lessons learned” at the conclusion of his piece.  Here are a couple of them; you can read the rest on the Newport-Bermuda race website, which should be a bookmark of yours anyway.

  • Start your preparations as earlier than you think is necessary.
  • Read accounts of previous races.
  • Use your mentor; they’ve been through this before and want to get you through safely.
  • Really know how to access and interpret weather data.
  • Pick your crew carefully and sail with them under conditions other than day sails on Long Island Sound.
  • Insist that your crew get into physical shape well before the race.
  • List all gear you plan to take ,know where it is stowed and anticipate what damage it might do when it gets dislodged.
  • Have each crew member stow their gear in either a locker or a zipped sea bag.
  • Use plastic baggies to keep sleeping gear and spare clothes dry.
  • Hypothermia is a real risk and can be deadly. Bermuda may be warm but the sea temperature north of the stream will be in the mid-50’s. Inadequate foul weather gear is a recipe for hypothermia. Personally review your crew’s foulies and safety gear. Every crew member should have a fleece jacket and pants which will insulate them when they get wet.
  • There is no such thing as overkill when it comes to spare parts, service manuals, and troubleshooting guides.

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Destinations, People