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Newport Bermuda Race Goes the Way of the Classic

The Carina crew The 2024 edition was the fifth Newport Bermuda Race win for Carina (1970, 1982, 2010, 2012, 2024))—three of which have been under the ownership of Rives Potts (second from left). “It means a great deal, I’m just so proud of the crew,” said Potts, who was not on board for the race. “A lot of [the crew] are on the boat for the very first time, and they all did well.” BRF/Daniel Forster

The 53rd Newport Bermuda Race officially concluded on June 29 as winners and award recipients were honored at the Race’s Prize Giving Ceremony at the Pier 6 Complex on Front Street. The ceremony caps off nearly two weeks of festivities in both Rhode Island and Bermuda surrounding the storied sailing race.

This year’s Bermuda Race was as exciting and challenging as ever—featuring a series of fronts causing tricky conditions near the start and a characteristically choppy crossing of the Gulf Stream. Of the 162 boats that started in Newport, 147 crossed the finish line and docked at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton. Fifteen boats retired, including the two boats that abandoned ship on the course. All crew of each of the participating boats arrived safely on land.

For the first time in its 118-year history, the Bermuda Race started off the coast of Newport’s Fort Adams, extending the historic course by 1 mile. After leaving Newport, boats reported light winds and slow sailing speeds, thanks to weather patterns moving from the north off the coast of New England. Proteus, a JV72, reported a dismasting at approximately 1:50 a.m. on Saturday, June 22. All crew were safe and the boat motored back to Newport after retiring from the race. Later Saturday, the breeze filled in, and the boats began making quick progress along the rhumbline toward Bermuda.

At 3:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 23, the crew of Alliance, a J/122 reported a water ingress and ultimately made the decision to abandon ship. Fellow competitors came to the boat’s assistance, and by 4:00 a.m. all of Alliance’s crew had been brought safely aboard James Coggeshall’s J/122 Ceilidh to sail onward.

Following Sunday morning’s rescue, other boats in the fleet reported choppy seas in and beyond the Gulf Stream. Throughout the day, anticipation built up for the arrival of the first boats in Bermuda. Roy Disney’s Pyewacket 70 was the first to cross the finish line at 1:37 a.m. Monday with a corrected time of two days 11 hours and 17 minutes. Also finishing Monday morning were Allegra (corrected time two days 13 hours and 31 minutes) and OC 86 (corrected time two days 12 hours and 19 minutes).

Summer Storm sailboat Andy Berdon’s TP52 Summer Storm approaches Bermuda en route to a win in the the Gibbs Hill Division with a corrected time of 2 days 10 hours and 32 minutes. BRF/Stephen Cloutier

Several vessels completed the race on Monday, and the Live Results were able to project that Summer Storm 52—owned and skippered by Andy Berdon—would become the overall winner of the Gibbs Hill Division with a corrected time of 2 days 10 hours and 32 minutes. Navigator Chris Lewis, who also won the 52nd Bermuda Race, attributed the win to getting off the coast of Rhode Island early and avoiding the weather that stalled other boats.

A unique aspect of this year’s race was the Gulf Stream, as well as boats’ strategies to get and stay in the advantageous current. This year, sailors said they sometimes experienced close to a 5-knot push toward Bermuda. The trick then became exiting at the right moment.

 “As much as we were all enjoying the ride, we needed to figure out when to get off the ride,” said Lewis at the Navigator’s Forum—held as a debrief after the race. There is an old adage to not go east of the rhumbline but Lewis says they hedged their bets to stay in the Gulf Stream’s meander longer at the risk of going more upwind as they got closer to Bermuda.

Two top competitors in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division, Carina (corrected time 2 days 16 hours 12 minutes) and Hound (corrected time of 2 days 16 hours 25 minutes), arrived in Bermuda overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning. As ratings were calculated on Tuesday morning, it became clear that Carina would win the division overall, due to a 30-minute penalty being added to Hound’s corrected time after having crossed the starting line early.

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On Tuesday afternoon, the crew of Gunga Din, a Swedish Yachts 41 abandoned ship 80 miles off of Bermuda due to water ingress. The crew of seven was taken aboard Desna, a Tartan 37, unharmed and continued along the course.

Both boats with rescued crews aboard—Ceilidh and Desna—arrived to applause and admiration on the docks of the RBYC. At the awards ceremony Saturday evening, both crews were presented with special plaques recognizing their heroic efforts to rescue their fellow sailors. The crew of Banter, which stood by to assist in the rescue of Alliance, was also recognized.

As the majority of the fleet continued to arrive on Wednesday and Thursday, overall winners were declared in the Double-Handed and Finisterre Divisions. Northeast Wind, a sloop, won Finisterre with a corrected time of 2 days 15 hours and 54 minutes. “We had the right boat, with the right conditions, and the right team,” said skipper Frank Sobchak.

Fearless, a Sunfast 3300, took the Double-Handed title with a corrected time of 3 days 4 hours and 23 minutes. Phil Hayden and Alexander Brock Kraebel co-skippered the boat, which had more than 500 virtual crew mates through Hayden’s non-profit Sail for Epilepsy. The organization works to inspire people with epilepsy and help them lead fuller lives, raise awareness about the disease, and support the search for a cure.

Along with trophies for division winners, special awards and recognitions were given to various members of this year’s fleet. Award winners include WaveWalker (William L. Glenn Family Participation Prize), OC 80 (Stephens Brothers Youth Prize), and Carina, Summer Storm, and In Theory as part of the Storm Trysail Red team (H. Irving Pratt Trophy).

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