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53rd Thrash to the Onion Patch planning

by Bermuda Race 25 Mar 2023 11:33 PDT June 19, 2024
Newport Bermuda Race © Daniel Forster / PPL

There is no such thing as an "off year" for the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee (BROC) - just a shift in focus of our efforts. The volunteers and staff are just busy at their desks, phones, and keyboards these days as many of our sailors are in bilges and rigs in the months leading up to a Race. We have already had two in-person all-hands meetings and dozens of sub-committee meetings focused on enhancing the entire experience for sailors and fans alike.

Expect to see some big changes for the 53rd Thrash to the Onion patch that we are not quite ready to talk about publicly, but they will make the Race easier for spectators and sailors alike to enjoy our classic regatta. We plan to release our Notice of Race and open registration exactly one year out from the 2024 start on Jun 19, 2023.

In the meantime, we have a plethora of content you can enjoy or educate yourself on starting with this weekend's Northeast Ocean Race Symposium hosted by our friends at the Marion Bermuda Race, Marblehead to Halifax Race and Bermuda 1-2. Our Race Chair, Mark Lenci, will present on the lessons learned from the tragic person overboard incident last year to help prevent future tragedies.

We also still have our entire Race Prep Webinar Series that aired in Spring 2021 that is still very much relevant. Webinars such as "Newport Bermuda - It's on Your Bucket List" to "To Finish First, You First Must Finish" - Safety & Yacht Preparation" are panel discussions on topics of interest to first time Bermuda Race participants.

And if your Netflix queue is empty or you are looking to listen to some good sea stories from 2022, be sure to go back and watch our "Dark N'Story Time" recorded at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. One of our favorites was "Dan Litchfield, Hound, on overcoming adversity to win Class on first try." He goes into detail how they had to fix their steering cable in big seas among other tales.

Read the article below from Frank Bohlen on tips of how you can start preparing for navigating and weather routing now.

Lastly, it is not too early to plan to get your Safety at Sea training done. The CCA is hosting multiple courses this Spring and our friends at Storm Trysail Club have a hands-on seminar at SUNY Maritime May 20th with an onboard component featuring an all-women's boat this year.

Study the Weather Now! Prior Planning and Preparation Tips from Frank Bohlen

It has been said that Races are lost on the water. The implication being that real success is the result of effort put in well before the start of the Race. This effort includes all aspects of boat preparation, crew selection and training, and the multiplicity of factors affecting race strategy and the associated sail selection.

The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee (BROC), recognizing the importance of these efforts, provides a variety of resources to assist both first-time and experienced Bermuda Race entrants. Ambassadors assist in the entry process, while Inspectors help with all aspects of boat preparation.

In addition, the Race website provides a variety of resources intended to complement navigation and strategic planning. These include Gulf Stream Tutorials dating back to the 2002 Race and a variety of Links for websites dealing with Gulf Stream characteristics and weather. The weather links include one providing access to archived data from NOAA's Ocean Prediction Center. The combination of historic Gulf Stream tutorials and archived weather allows a study of conditions experienced in previous races and the development of potential future race strategies.

To realize maximum benefit of these talents and resources it is essential to start early. Spring of 2023 is none too early to start planning and study for the 2024 Newport Bermuda Race. Select the weather model you plan to use for routing (e.g. GFS, EURO, etc..) and live with it. Obtain the forecast for your area and compare it to conditions experienced. Look out the window! Some reasonable degree of accuracy will give you confidence in the model product. Similarly, download satellite images of the sea surface temperatures (SST) across the Gulf Stream (see Image above). Compare these to model results such as the Global RTOFS of NOAA or HYCOM from the Navy.

Notice how often the direct satellite imagery is affected by cloud cover. Also, observe the rate of change in Stream structure with particular attention to meander patterns and the formation and migration of warm and cold core rings. An understanding of this rate of change is particularly valuable in the planning of Race strategy during times when direct observation of the Stream may be impossible due to cloud cover. This is often the case in mid-June.

Finally, put some time into a study of marine weather and the relationships between upper atmosphere winds and surface conditions. The CCA sponsored two day-long symposia in which this subject was discussed in some detail. The resulting videos can be found at sas.cruisingclub.org/weather/online. An early start to these studies provides the best foundation for a safe and successful race to Bermuda and return home.

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