_Preview of the Newport Bermuda Race from Talbot Wilson: _
On the eve on the 48th Bermuda Race skippers, navigator and crews are talking about breaking records. Chris Branning, navigator of Mark Watson’s Team Tiburon, said last evening, “I think we’ll break the record… but someone else will set the record.”
Mark Watson joked, “Finishing so early will really hurt my bar tab at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Bar, but I’ll be able to spend more time with my family in Bermuda.” Sunday is Father’s Day.
This is setting up as a big boat race if conditions evolve as predicted. Winds at the start are predicted to be 10-15 kts from the northeast, maybe a spinnaker start for the first time since 2002.
Winds should build down the course and across the Gulf Stream then lighten around Bermuda’s “Happy Valley” on Sunday. The smaller, slower boats may have a tough time clawing down the course as the breeze lightens and shifts to the south.
The Newport Bermuda Race has two records, one for Open Division boats at 48hr, 28min, 31sec set by Hasso Plattner’s Morning Glory in 2004 and the ‘official’ record for traditional designs set by Roy Disney’s 75 foot Pyewacket is at 53hr, 39 min 22 sec.
Branning said they had run their race routing program Thursday afternoon and Bermuda’s Team Tiburon, a Reichel/Pugh 74 (former Bella Mente) should finish around 0900 hrs on Sunday, covering the course in about 42 hours. He guessed that George David’s Rambler would be the pacesetter.
Rambler, a Reichel/Pugh 90 from Hartford CT, is the largest boat in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division, water ballasted but grandfathered in before movable ballast boats were moved into the Open Division. Branning said, “A windy reach or a run are Rambler’s points of sail. She will load the ballast tanks and blast on to Bermuda.”
“If the weather sets up as predicted, Rambler should beat us by three hours.” Branning estimated. That would put them at St. David’s Lighthouse at Bermuda around 0600 setting a new traditional record of close to 39 hours._