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Newport to Bermuda Race – Jim Madden tells all about the race

by Talbot Wilson on 7 Jul 2010
J/65 BRAND NEW DAY powering upwind to Bermuda - Bermuda Race Stuart Johnstone
Newport to Bermuda Race was an exciting and challenging event.

For most of the fleet, the 635 miles was a fetch / beat through winds varying from 'triple 0s' to gusts well over 30 knots. Other than a Code 0, very few boats saw spinnakers.

This year's Gulfstream added some serious challenges to navigators. Several meanders and eddies along the stream's path proved quite difficult to locate and when found, often created surprising results - quite the opposite of those expected.

Thought the race is officially scored under ORR by the Cruising Club of America ('CCA') and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club ('RBYC'), the number of entries with IRC certificates increased substantially from the 2008 event.

In fact among most of the large boat Divisions, virtually all boats produced IRC certificates and chose for dual scoring. The biggest, fastest boats in the race were an impressive group of mostly IRC racers including 'Speed Boat', a Volvo 70, 'Rambler', 'Bella Mente', 'Genuine Risk', 'Titan', 'Ran', and 'Vanquish'. Though no records were set in 2010, the big fastest boats all arrived in less than 48 hours.

In the St. David's Lighthouse ('SDL') Division eight, all 12 big boats had IRC, and the results between ORR and IRC were quite consistent with only one two boats swapping second and third under each rule. Division eight was the big boat class in the amateur division ('SDL') and had some dramatic differences in size and type of Boats.

The Class ranged from a classic McCurdy & Rhodes 69 to a Custom 40 footer, and it included boats as diverse as a Reichel Pugh 66' racer, a Swan 601, a J65, and a Santa Cruz 70. 'Gracie', the McCurdy & Rhodes 69, and perhaps the oldest boat in the Class, was the class winner under both ORR and IRC proving that older big boats can be quite competitive under IRC.

For the J/65, 'Brand New Day' ('BND'), it was a relatively short three-day event - finishing on Monday, June 21st at 8:24pm ET. For most of the race, 'BND' and 'Gracie' were within ten miles of each other. Scoring under IRC, BND took a second, and a third under ORR. BND and Gracie managed to beat all the big, fast racers under IRC.

The ride to Bermuda on the J/65 was a very comfortable venture. There air conditioning in each of the cabins, heads, galley and salon kept the interior of the boat at a constant 68 degrees. This made for some strange, but very satisfying, sensations when coming off watch from the hot stickiness of Gulf Stream weather to a chilled interior. Hors d’ouevres were served promptly each evening at 5pm. The cooked dinners of lasagna, pork, and chicken were accompanied by white and red wine.

One of the most interesting highlights of the trip was post race - motoring through the North Channel in Bermuda after finishing. This is a very narrow, jagged channel from St. George's (east end of Bermuda) to Hamilton.

Boats were advised to stay overnight in St. George's and only continue to Hamilton during daylight hours. Ignoring the recommendation, BND did the 16 miles overnight in calm seas with three navigating below, and all others on deck. No problems, but many scenes reminiscent of 'The Hunt for Red October'.

BND is now back in Newport, Rhode Island, awaiting some serious cruising this summer and a few more races under IRC.

For more information, please go to:
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