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Newport Bermuda Race - Mark Watson reflects on 'race to remember'

by Colin Thompson, The Royal Gazette on 21 Jun 2012
Team Tribuon skippered by Mark Watson (L) starts in Class 10 as the 48th Newport Bermuda Race got underway with the first spinnaker start since 2002. There were 166 boats in 17 classes and 6 divisions. Also pictured is George David’s ’Rambler’ (C) and Hap Fauth’s ’Bella Mente’ - Newport Bermuda Race 2012 Talbot Wilson - Copyright
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) skipper Mark Watson has described this year’s Newport Bermuda Race as a 'race of a lifetime'. The Argo Group CEO’s chartered Reichel-Pugh 74, Wizard, was the fourth boat to finish the 635 mile race on corrected time of 40 hours, 38 minutes and 24 seconds respectively.

Wizard competed in the professional Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division consisting of boats sailed by professionals.

Watson’s time was faster than the previous course record of 53 hours, 39 minutes and 22 seconds set by Roy Disney’s Pyewacket a decade ago. However, it was not enough to guarantee line honours. That honour instead went to Rambler that shaved 14 hours off the previous course record. The new course record now stands at 39 hours, 39 minutes and 18 seconds.

Even though he did not capture line or class honours, Watson said his Team Tiburon team-mates still had much to be proud of. 'I’m very pleased with how we did in the race,' he said. 'Basically we had a young crew with a number of amateurs that never sailed together before and we were right there with the biggest, fastest and best sailed boats in the race.

'We only finished a little over an hour behind the two of the three boats and believe it or not, I’m actually happier this year than two years ago when we won the Open Division (with Genuine Risk).' Watson said racing conditions were ideal for launching an assault on the record books.

'We had just the right weather conditions for the race as a whole and the four of us (Rambler, Shockwave, Bella Mente, Team Tiburon) were in the right place at the right time all the way down the track. I thought it was outstanding that we just got to participate in a race of a lifetime.'

Watson congratulated Rambler’s crew for their record-breaking display in this year’s ‘Thrash to the Onion Patch’.
'I really have to congratulate George David (Rambler’s owner) because he’s had a terrific team for a quite awhile now,' he said.

'Rambler was built in 2002 so he didn’t show up with a brand new toy for the race. He showed up with a well-sailed boat and a team that sailed together for years and they did a great job. I think it’s terrific they got the record. I’m a little envious, but I’m a competitor.'

Just hours after claiming line honours and re-writing the record books Rambler’s owner George David tied the knot with the boat’s cook for the race, Wendy Touton.

'I’m very congratulatory of George’s success and also his new marriage,' Watson said.

During the 2010 Fastnet Race David and his wife-to-be were plucked to safety after the maxi they were sailing (Rambler 100) lost its keel and capsized off the Irish coast.

The mishap occurred just month’s after the yacht claimed line honours in the Newport Bermuda Race.

The Royal Gazette website

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