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Newport Bermuda Race - Veteran Brown returns for 21st race

by Colin Thompson, The Royal Gazette on 14 Jun 2012
Veteran sailor Warren Brown is among the crew of Spirit of Bermuda that is competing this year - Newport Bermuda Race 2012 The Royal Gazette - copyright
Warren Brown is no stranger to the biennial Newport Bermuda Race. The Bermudian sailor has sailed the race on 20 occasions in 11 different boats, including four of his own.

This year Brown is among the crew aboard 'Spirit of Bermuda', an 118 ft triple mast sloop that is competing alone in the ‘Spirit of Tradition’ Division.

The new division is an invitational demonstration developed to experiment with the reintroduction of traditional schooner rigged vessels.

'Spirit' was designed and built to provide the Island’s youth with an 'authentic learning community to supplement and enrich personal development and academic instruction provided within traditional classroom and community environments.'

'I think 'Spirit of Bermuda' is an excellent training ground for youngsters,' Brown said. 'The sea instils not only a discipline for teamwork but an association of bonding together for a mutual purpose as you are dependent on your fellow sailors for all life at sea. One hopes this will carry forward into later life.'

'I am pleased to be doing the race on Spirit as I have only sailed once on her for a short period of time.'

Brown has donated one of his most prized trophies to the Newport Bermuda Race’s newest class, the prestigious Grimaldi Coupe Prada Cup he won at the helm of War Baby in the Mediterranean several years ago.

The silverware has been renamed after Brown’s former yacht and is to be awarded to the winners of the ‘Spirit of Tradition’ Division.

'In a way the Grimaldi Coupe Prada ties in with the older tall ships and I thought it would be a fitting trophy for the larger boats that will be racing in the special class,' said Brown. 'I have given this trophy to the class particularly because of the number of crew involved in these boats. Skippers only point the yachts in the right direction, crews win races.'

Brown won the Grimaldi Coupe Prada Cup aboard 'War Baby' a 61 ft Sparkman and Steven’s he bought from media mogul Ted Turner, sailing with a crew that included compatriots Malcolm Kirkland, James Watlington, Jay Kempe, Reid Kempe, Paul Doughty, Chesley White and John Watson.

Jay Kempe and Watlington will also be among the crew of Spirit of Bermuda in this year’s Newport Bermuda Race.

During a distinguished career spanning several decades, Brown has logged more than 300,000 miles at sea and competed in some of the world’s most prestigious ocean races, such as the Fastnet Race on several occasions.

He has also endured his share of drama on the high seas.

'I have been in four hurricanes at sea, have been dismasted twice, once in the Atlantic and once off the coast of New Zealand,' he said. 'In some storms I have been in there has been loss of life.

'I have been at sea over 300,000 miles in many parts of the world; from the Polar areas to Islands far south of New Zealand and north of Spitsbergen, Antarctica, Greenland, etc.'

Simply put, sailing is a part of Brown’s DNA.

'My ancestors, who came to Bermuda in 1747, were sailmakers from Scotland,' he said. 'I started sailing in a converted Bermuda dinghy, sailing punts, college dinghies, 14-foot Internationals, Luders 16s and International One Designs (IOD).

'I then raced extensively in many ocean racers by many designers and races with almost all the top British yachtsmen during Cowes weeks and Channel Races. One 'War Baby' set the Middle Sea Race record and another the Marion to Bermuda Race. I was also tactician and watch captain on Nirvana when she broke the Bermuda Race record.'

Brown said the Newport Bermuda Race has great value to the Island in more ways than one.

'The Bermuda Race has great value for Bermuda because of the number of people it brings to the Island, the publicity it brings to Bermuda as it is a major yachting event and the number of people who will return after seeing our Island for the first time,' he said.

This year’s race fleet sets sail from Newport this Friday, June 15.

There are four Bermuda entries among the 167 yachts that will make the 635-mile journey to Bermuda.

The Royal Gazette website

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