As of April 5, 195 boats have been sanctioned by the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee as qualified entries in the 50th Newport Bermuda Race. With another 14 boats expected to be sanctioned, the 2016 edition looks to be the second largest “Thrash to the Onion Patch” in the 110-year history of racing to Bermuda. It follows only the 265 entries in the centennial race in 2006. The race in 2008 had 198 entries.
“Now that we have reached this first deadline, and we have such a large and diverse fleet, there is still plenty of work to do before June 17th,” Race Chairman A.J. Evans noted. “Skippers have until May 15th to complete the online entry process. All of the important dates and deadlines are in the Notice of Race. Getting yachts measured and inspected are priorities now.”
“We have 209 yachts invited or in the approval process,” Evans continued, “but as always we expect some attrition. The largest races have been 265 in 2006 and 198 in 2008. Let’s hope the numbers hold and we have the second largest fleet in the 50th crossing.”
“The entry list,” Evans added, “is proof the Bermuda Race continues to attract a diverse group of monohull yachts from mostly-amateur cruisers to professionally crewed racers with a variety of rigs, designs, hailing ports, and vintages. The diversity of boats and crews provides good competition in the ocean and interesting walks on the RBYC docks with Gosling’s in hand.”
Potentially, the fastest boat in the fleet will be Comanche, Jim and Kristy Clark’s flashy 100-foot VPLP-Verdier design. She will be going for line honors and a try at the record set in 2012 by George David on Rambler with his passage in 39hrs, 39min, 18sec.
Actaea, Michael Cone’s Hinckley Bermuda 40, among the smaller boats in the fleet, will be back to defend her title as the 2014 winner of the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy, one of the most coveted prizes in yacht racing. Actaea won the cruiser-racer St. David’s Division defeating 96 finishers.
Owner George Sakellaris led his Maxi 72 Shockwave to line honors in 2014. This year he will put his new Maxi 72 Proteus to the test against two other Maxi 72’s, Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente and Dieter Schoen’s Momo.
Look down the entry list and you will recognize many returning skippers, some with new boats. About 40% of the skippers are new to the Newport Bermuda Race, coming out to make their rite of passage in the 50th Thrash. The majority of the fleet, as always, are traditional cruiser-racer types and pure cruisers, with 95% of the boats amateur driven double-handers, cruisers, and cruiser racers. The diversity of the Newport Bermuda fleet is unique in yacht racing.
There are five regular divisions defined in the Notice of Race: St. David’s Lighthouse, Cruiser, Double Handed, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, and Open. There are two additional special divisions, Spirit of Tradition and Super Maxi. Division placements have not been published to date. The largest usually is the St. David’s Lighthouse Division, which had 99 entries in 2014. In the mix of yachts in the race this year are 36 J Boats, 19 Swans, and nine Beneteaus making up the largest production brands. Except for Super Maxi and Spirit of Tradition, the maximum length is 100 feet and the average, ironically, is 50 feet.
The largest boat in the regular divisions is Comanche at the maximum 100 feet. The smallest boat is Jeroboam, a Beneteau Oceanis 351 signing in at just a smidge under 34 feet. More than 100 feet longer, the largest application for entry so far is the replica of the Schooner America which is 139.2 feet. She will be some much-needed competition for the 112-foot Spirit of Bermuda in the Spirit of Tradition Division.
Visit the event website at www.bermudarace.com for more information.