As the sailing capital of the world, you didn't think we were going to start the summer off without a thrilling, world-renowned sailing event, did you?
Aside from last week's World Match Racing Tour, we're kicking off the summer with the 635-mile biennial Newport Bermuda Race, the oldest regularly scheduled ocean race, one of very few international distance races, and one of just two of the world’s regularly scheduled races held almost entirely out of sight of land. The race begins from Castle Hill on Friday, June 17.
ABOUT THE RACE
The Newport to Bermuda race is nicknamed “The Thrash to the Onion Patch” because most races include high winds and large waves. You could imagine then, that it's reportedly not a race for novices. The course crosses the rough Gulf Stream and is mostly out of the reach from rescue helicopters. Not to mention, Bermuda is guarded by a dangerous reef.
Consequently, the race demands good seamanship and a boat that is well-built and meets stringent equipment requirements. Before going out on the water, each boat must undergo inspection, and the sailors must also pass a review and undergo training in safety.
WHO SAILS IN THE RACE
The average crew has ten men or women, many from the same family. Typically, 25-30 percent of captains are sailing their first Newport Bermuda Race in command, but this year the proportion is about 35 percent.
This year’s event, according to officials, is expected to be the third largest since the race began 110 years ago, with approximately 190 boats. Among them, a total of 23 countries are represented among the sailors, and 55 of the boats have at least one sailor from outside the United States.
HOW LONG IS THE RACE?
Depending on the weather, the infamous strong currents of the Gulf Stream and the boat’s size and speed, the race takes anywhere from two to six days, with the first boat arriving at the finish line off St. David’s Lighthouse between Sunday and Monday, and the smaller boats arriving between Monday and Wednesday or Thursday.
WHERE CAN I SEE THE ACTION?
The start of the race offers spectacular views as approximately 190 boats maneuver their way through the ocean beginning at Castle Hill. Since the start is extremely close to land, you can grab a seat at a number of public spots along the shore. Pack a picnic and head to Brenton Point State Park on Newport's Ocean Drive, or Beavertail State Park in Jamestown. Of course, the spot nearest the action is the lawn at Castle Hill Inn.
Prefer to view the action from the water? Sit back and relax on your choice of charter cruise.
Remember: The first gun will probably be at 2:50 p.m., and the last start at 5:30.