The 2014 Newport Bermuda Race kicked off Friday with a downwind start out of Narragansett Bay. 164 boats in 14 classes will sail the 635-mile classic race.
The 2014 Newport Bermuda Race kicked off today with a downwind start out of Narragansett Bay. 164 boats in 14 classes will sail the 635-mile classic race. Winds were mostly out of the south in the low teens, and many of the classes chose to start with their spinnakers flying.
Spirit of Bermuda, a replica of a British Royal Navy sloop-of-war, is racing in her own class as a part of this year’s Newport Bermuda Race. Here she is off of Castle Hill Inn, to the delight of the crowd of spectators ashore.
Aboard Crazy Horse, Dennis McLaughlin goes aloft to prepare the boat for the start. Dennis is one of five college students in the 12-person crew skippered by his father Kevin McLaughlin. “We’ve always wanted to do a Bermuda race,” said the elder McLaughlin, “We did this one for the kids.” This year’s Bermuda race is a first for the boat and most of the crew.
Many of the participants this year shared similar sentiments about the light wind conditions of the start. “We’re mostly concerned with punching through the areas with light wind to get to the frontal line later on, ” said Lir watch captain Andy Giglia. In this photo, Lir is to windward.
Gracie was in dry-dock for almost two years before this summer, and required nearly two months of preparations and training to be ready to start the race. Crew David Baker predicts the current high-pressure system off the east coast “to create light air for the start of the race, then we’ll hit the loop-de-loop in the Gulf Stream and hopefully the Bermuda Low will bring more breeze.”
The 12-person crew of Crazy Horse includes five college students from URI and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. While the students have an impressive sailing resume, this year’s race is the first they’ve sailed to Bermuda. Skipper Kevin McLaughlin is focused on the first night of the race, when light air will serve to separate the fleet, and those who can stay ahead “will be set up well for the rest of the race.”
Ker 50 Winged Lion is a family affair. Skipper William Hubbard IV is sailing with both his father, William Hubbard III and another father-son duo. Even wife and mother, Robin, participated by providing all of the provisions for the race. The other ten crewmembers are made up of friends from the UK, Peru, USA and Germany. “We’re a cohesive group,” said the younger Hubbard, “We did the Block Island race as a shakedown and it went really well.”
Swan 43 Hiro Maru was one of the first boats across the line in the 635-mile ocean race. They are competing against 100 other boats for the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy, awarded to the boat with the best corrected time in the St. David’s Lighthouse division. Consisting of 8 divisions, this year’s St. David’s division is one of the largest the race has seen in recent years.
Swan 45 Lir sailed the 2012 Newport Bermuda race in under 70 hours. This year, with a new bowsprit and asymmetrical spinnaker, watch captain Andy Giglia is confident that the boat is “all powered up. She should be happy in all conditions with the new features.”
Atlantic Cup Champion Gryphon Solo 2 is in the double-handed division in the Bermuda Race. Sailing with only two crew aboard, this division is not only a distance challenge but also a logistical challenge. However, this year 21 participants are sailing double-handed. Among them are three other Atlantic Cup boats: JefferyMacfarlane.com, Toothface2, and Pleiad Racing (aboard Pelion).
The crew aboard Terrapin head to the rail as the wind picked up for the Class 9, Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse Division start. The Gibb’s Hill Division is made up of professional crews on modern race-designed boats, including three Maxis. Though this year there are only eight boats competing for the Gibb’s Hill Trophy, it promises to be an exciting competition.
Winged Lion’s crew has a different approach to racing. “No yelling,” says Skipper William Hubbard IV of his rules afloat, “We’re not laid back and we’re certainly competitive, but no yelling on board.”
J-125 Crossfire ducks another Gibb’s Hill Division boat as they race down Narragansett Bay. Even with 635 miles to go, these racers fight for every foot at the start.
Custom 65 Kodiak is one of the fastest boats in the St. David’s Division with a mix of amateur and professional crew. The professional crew is allowed aboard but not allowed at the helm in order to adhere to the division rules. In the 2012 race, Kodiak won the St. David’s Trophy by finishing the race in just under 47 hours.