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Prize-giving draws 52nd Newport Bermuda Race to a close

by John Burnham 27 Jun 17:43 PDT June 25, 2022

The 52nd Newport Bermuda Race drew to a close Saturday night with the Prize-Giving ceremony, held at Government House, starting in rain and ending with the glow of a setting sun.

At the outset, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Craig Davis asked the assembled guests to observe a one-minute silence to acknowledge and reflect on the passing of Morgan of Marietta's owner, Colin Golder during the race.

More than 100 awards were presented for top finishes in each of 19 classes, and for numerous other superlatives, such as overall fastest and slowest elapsed times, youth teams, family crews, and club and service-academy teams. Then, at the very end, came the race's trademark sterling-silver St. David's and Gibbs Hill Lighthouse trophies, which are "keeper" awards for the winners.

Her Excellency, the Governor of Bermuda, Ms. Rena Lalgie, hosted the ceremony, welcoming hundreds of guests and multi-generational sailors who came forward to receive prizes from the Governor and Craig Davis, Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, and Chris Otorowski, Commodore of the Cruising Club of America. Stephen Kempe, the RBYC Honorary Secretary, served as master of ceremonies, presenting the entire nine-page prize list. The race is co-hosted by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

The coveted St. David's Lighthouse Trophy, a silver and gold replica of the lighthouse awarded since 1954 to the winner of the largest division (108 boats this year), was presented to Sally and Stan Honey (Palo Alto, California), for the performance of their 56-year-old Cal 40 Illusion. With a crew including Carl Buchan (Seattle, Wash.), Don Jesberg (Belvedere, Calif.) and Jonathan "Bird" Livingston (Richmond, Calif.), Illusion posted the fastest corrected time in the division in the past 20 years, and its 1h:58m:04s margin ahead of Andrew Clark's (Greenwich, Connecticut) second-place J/122 Zig Zag is the third largest in the same time frame.

The Illusion crew made repeated trips to the stage during the ceremony, earning half a dozen other prizes for the largest margin of victory in class, the top-performing vintage yacht, the fastest yacht from the Pacific Coast, and more.

The Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Trophy, a silver replica of Bermuda's tallest lighthouse awarded regularly since 2002, was presented to Christopher Sheehan (Larchmont, New York) and his Pac52 Warrior Won for victory in the higher-performance, professionally crewed Gibbs Hill Division (18 boats). Sheehan enters the record book as the first owner to win both the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse and St. David's Lighthouse trophies. In 2016, he won the latter with his Xp44, also called Warrior Won.

"It's very humbling," said Sheehan, who last year won the Transpac Race and, last February, the Caribbean 600. "There are so many wonderful records and legendary sailors in this race."

The Bjorn R. Johnson Castle Hill Trophy for the corrected-time winner in the Multihull Division was awarded to Jason Carroll (New York City), whose MOD70 Argo set a new course record of 33 hours (19.24-knot average) and became the first Saturday finisher in the 116-year history of the race. The trophy was newly minted in 2018 when multihulls were invited to compete in the race for the first time, and Carroll won it that year as well in Elvis, his Gunboat 62 catamaran.

The Finisterre Division Trophy was awarded to octogenarian Dudley Johnson (New York City), who triumphed over 39 other boats with his high-performance cruiser Prevail, a Tripp 65. Reflecting on the wait for this race forced by Covid Darris Witham, skipper of Prevail, said, "The boat has the right name. The race is a liquid Everest, and it had to be climbed. Dudley had done the race once before, and he really loved it and wanted to do it one more time."

The Double-Handed Division trophies, the Moxie Prize and Philip S Weld Prize, went to 20-year-old Zachary Doerr (Butler, Pennsylvania), a Webb Institute undergraduate, and 53-year-old Vlad Shablinsky (Glen Cove, New York), sailing together on the Figaro Custom 2 Groupe 5 in Class 6.

"We were hesitant to believe we were doing too well, so we pushed all the way through to the end," said Doerr. "The only time I got excited was when we finished in Bermuda and got cell service; the first text that popped up was from my parents, saying, 'You guys are almost definitely going to be first.' The whole experience feels kind of surreal being on the island now—a week ago I was taking finals."

The William L. Glenn Family Participation Prize, for the top team with four or more family members aboard including an afterguard member (see requirements), was won by Brian Bush (North Chatham, Massachusetts) on Toujours, which also won Class 7 in the Finisterre Division.

The Corinthian Trophy for the top-finishing all amateur crew went to Froya, a McCurdy and Rhodes 46 co-skippered by Lane Tobin (Seattle) and Bill Gunther (Essex, Connecticut). Froya finished second in Class 11.

Wasp, a US Naval Academy boat skippered by John Neubauer (Annapolis, Maryland), won the Stephens Brothers Youth Trophy. The award is for the top boat in the St. David's Lighthouse and Finisterre divisions crewed by sailors more than half of whom are between the age of 14 and 23, inclusive (see requirements). Wasp, a J/133, also won the Battle of the Atlantic Trophy with the third best corrected time among boats from service academies in the St. David's Lighthouse Division.

The George W. Mixter Trophy is awarded to the winning navigators in the St. David's Lighthouse and Gibbs Hill Lighthouse divisions, and this year the trophies went to California sailors Stan Honey of Illusion and Chris Lewis of Warrior Won. "This is really special to me," said Lewis. "We're both members of the St. Francis Yacht Club, and Stan has been my mentor for many years."

As the rain clouds dispersed and the sun set on the 52nd "Thrash to the Onion Patch," sailors lingered at Government House, enjoying the end of an extraordinary event. The start of the 53rd race will be on June 21, 2024.

See prize list of all winners

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