Please select your home edition
Edition
Marine Resource 2016

The Onion Patch Series - A difficult one to win

by Talbot Wilson on 19 Mar 2012
‘Ran’gets bow out at the start of race 2 in the Royal Bermuda YC Anniversary Regatta. The snazzy J/V 72 skippered by Niklas Zennstrom from London UK won the 2010 Onion Patch with 18 points,just 1.5 ahead of Hap Fauth’s ‘Bella Mente’. Talbot Wilson - Copyright
Almost fifty years ago, a trio of Bermuda sailors were in Cowes, England sailing in the Fastnet Race, the finale of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Admiral’s Cup Series. They liked the event and wanted to bring it home.

The Admiral’s Cup was a hard fought series of races that included racing in the powerful tidal currents of the Solent, racing in adjacent bays, racing around the Isle of Wight, racing in the Channel Race and trekking off on the famous Fastnet. Shorty and JerryTrimingham and Warren Brown hatched the idea of bringing the Admiral’s Cup to North America and calling it the Onion Patch Series.

The Onion Patch Series was born in 1962 when the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club backed the concept and deeded the Onion Patch Trophy to be competed for by national teams of yachts entered in the Newport Bermuda Race. Racing in 1964 was scheduled to include a 25-milerace off the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, the Newport Bermuda Race and a 25-mile race off Bermuda’s South shore. The first Onion Patch attracted teams from Bermuda, the United States and Argentina.

Since 1994, this diverse five-race series has begun with windward-leeward racing in the Rhode Island Sound’s often brisk winds and tricky currents, it’s been centered by the daunting challenge of the classic 635-mile Newport Bermuda Race® with its exciting Gulf Stream crossing in the Thrash to the Onion Patch and it concluded with a windward-leeward race and a scenic flexi-course in flat water with shifty breezes on Bermuda’s Great Sound, Granaway Deep and Hamilton Harbour.

Warren Brown who sailed that first series recalls, 'Having sailed with Fenton (Jerry) Trimingham, as crew on Shorty's boat in the Fastnet, I was well aware of what they wished to do with the Onion Patch Series. The concept was discussed extensively in England when we participated in the Admiral’s Cup. The formula was to use the Admiral’s Cup as a guide.'

The Onion Patch Series initially was purely team-oriented, like the Admiral’s Cup. But it has evolved into a tough triathlon of offshore yacht racing for teams going for the Onion Patch Trophy and for individual yachts racing for the Henry B. DuPont Trophy.


Over 48 years, the format has changed from racing in three venues— New England, the Bermuda race and a concluding race in Bermuda— to racing in multiple New England events and concluding with the Bermuda Race. The Series is back to being close to the original format… two races of the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta are in Newport, Rhode Island, then the Cruising Club of America–Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s Newport Bermuda Race and concluding with the two-race RBYC Anniversary Regatta.

In the early days, when the Onion Patch was purely for international three-boat teams, the numbers were naturally small. Boats would have to sail or be shipped to New York or Newport, and competing was expensive. In 1990 and 1992 more emphasis was placed on individual entries. Teams representing yacht clubs and sailing associations or other organizations were allowed entry in addition to national teams. In 1994, the year of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s 150th anniversary, entries reached 45 individual yachts with 21 of them forming seven teams.

The Onion Patch continues to attract about 35-45 boats because of the exciting challenges it offers to professional and amateur sailors alike. In 2010, there were 38 individual entries and five three-boat teams. In 2006, the Bermuda Race Centennial year, there were 48 individual entries and seven teams, while 2008 had 30 entries and four teams.

'The Onion Patch is a tough series to win as an individual entry,' said Rives Potts owner of Carina, winner of the St David's Lighthouse Trophy in the 2010 Newport Bermuda Race. He came in fifth overall in the 2010 Onion Patch and has yet to win the series.

'You have to be very good in all conditions and on all types of race courses,' he added. 'Not many boats or crews excel at both. The guys that do well in the Onion Patch have a lot to be proud of. They prepare their boats right, are able to shift gears from long-legged races to short-legged races, and have very good sailors on board.'

'To win as a team,' Potts concluded, 'is even more difficult. All three boats on the team have to do very well in all three phases of the series. The winning team is usually the team that makes the fewest mistakes and is consistent throughout.'

In 2008, Randall Baldwin(Ridgefield Connecticut), sailing his Taylor 42 Cabady, took home the Henry B. du Pont Trophy for first place in the 2008 Onion Patch Series. Of Onion Patch boats, he finished second in the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta, first in the Newport Bermuda Race and ninth in the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta for 2, 1.25, 9 and a total of 12.25 points. His boat and crew gave an all-round winning performance.

Following the Anniversary Regatta in Bermuda, Rich Long, Cabady’s tactician said, 'We had no idea how we did against the J122 Flying Jenny. We are used to windward-leeward courses, but the Bermuda ‘island tour’ course took us from the Great Sound into unfamiliar waters. It was a navigator’s course.'

When told about his series win, Baldwin exclaimed, 'Isn’t that wonderful!' Flying Jenny came second in the series by only 6.25 points.

When you plan your 2012 racing schedule, be sure to include all three events in this triathlon of sailboat racing. This is a tough series sailed over a scant three consecutive weeks in June. It is a challenge to yacht, skipper and crew to prevail in these three spectacular events and venues. The Onion Patch is one tough series to win.

Entry for the series and the NYYC and RBYC events may be made on the New York Yacht Club website and application for entry for the Newport Bermuda Race is made through the event website.

Entries for the Onion Patch Series close on Thursday, June 7.

Onion Patch Series website.

Schaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82T Clewring Cruisingupffront 660x82

Related Articles

2015 -16 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - This day last year…
Around St Katharine Docks, air was full of nervous energy and a sense of anticipation as Clipper Race crew said goodbye 2015 -16 Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Around St Katharine Docks, the air was full of nervous energy and a sense of anticipation as the Clipper 2015-16 Race crew said goodbye to the thousands of well-wishers that gathered to bid them farewell on their round the world adventure.
Posted on 31 Aug
2017 Marion Bermuda Race offers front row seats for America’s Cup
Enjoy all the post-race fun and activities at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club and stay on for your front row seat Enjoy all the post-race fun and activities at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club and stay on for your front row seat
Posted on 30 Aug
Dodging ducks, savoring summer—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond
Editorial Editorial
Posted on 30 Aug
Full focus on board Oman Air for Extreme Sailing Series St Petersburg
With a lead on the overall scoreboard following their last gasp win in Hamburg the pressure is on to maintain 100% focus With a five-point lead on the overall scoreboard, following their last gasp win in Hamburg, the pressure is on to maintain 100% focus to make sure they perform to their maximum capabilities right up until the final race in Sydney in December.
Posted on 30 Aug
Zhik sailors win 17 sailing medals at 2016 Olympic Regatta
The 2016 Olympic games are over and what a Games they have been - Zhik sailors dominated Zhik sailors won almost 60% of the medals contested at Rio de Janeiro. It was a regatta which tested sailors and gear - with one day being the most severe conditions ever experienced at an Olympic regatta. For the Zhik team riders on the waters of Rio, four years and more of hard work and dedication have paid off for many.
Posted on 29 Aug
Hollandia wins 8 Metre World Cup
After nine race series, Netherlands' Hollandia wins it with eight points. The racing took place in a range of conditions After a five day, nine race series, Hollandia of the Netherlands wins it with eight points. The racing took place in a range of conditions and Hollandia managed to win every race.
Posted on 29 Aug
Volvo Ocean Race - Enright and Towill ready to go again in 2017/18
Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright and his long-time buddy Mark Towill are eager to put their experience to use. Team Alvimedica were the youngest team in the race last edition, and now skipper Charlie Enright and his long-time buddy Mark Towill are eager to put that experience to use. Volvo Ocean race's Jonno Turner caught up with Mark and Charlie to chat about everything from the transition back into 'real life', their reflections on the 2014-15 campaign - and the future.
Posted on 29 Aug
Noroton Yacht Club takes the NYYC Grandmasters Team Race Trophy again
The yacht club from Darien, Connecticut, still out sailed every other club on the water. Every August the biggest question for the NYYC Grandmasters Team Race Regatta is whether this will be the year that Noroton Yacht Club's winning streak ends. Yet even after the age minimums were raised by five years and the event was expanded to 10 teams and three days to stiffen the competition, the yacht club from Darien, Connecticut, still out sailed every other club on the water.
Posted on 29 Aug
The door’s been flung open – again
Now whether it was the Champagne or something far more ethereal, there is the chance that sailing gets sexier for Tokyo Now whether it was the Champagne or something far more ethereal, there is the chance that sailing may get sexier for Tokyo 2020. Yes, the proverbial door has been cast ajar before, often to much fanfare, and not that much has been achieved.
Posted on 28 Aug
Michael Illbruck crowned 2016 Melges 20 World Champion
Although not a simple task, Freides aimed to keep Illbruck behind him, or at minimum out of top nine ranking. Hosted by Marina di Scarlino/Club Nautico Scarlino, the World Championship was the most successful to date featuring four days of incredible sportboat racing.
Posted on 28 Aug