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24th Bermuda One-Two Yacht Race at Newport Yacht Club

by J/Boats 11 Jun 2023 10:19 PDT 2 June 2023
Peter Gustafsson's J/111 BLUR © Newport Yacht Club

First started in 1977, the 24th Bermuda One-Two Yacht Race started on June 2nd, 2023 off Newport, Rhode Island's famous Rose Island Lighthouse.

Hosting the tough 635.0nm race from Newport to Bermuda are the Newport Yacht Club and the St. George's Dinghy & Sports Club in Bermuda.

The fleet of twenty-six boats attracted several silver-platers in the form of passionate J/sailors, virtually all of whom have won silverware in various regattas and offshore races over the years. There were eight J/teams (one-third of the fleet!) that will have a go at both division and overall honors, that is a 400% increase in J/Boats participation since the 2021 race with just two J/teams! The outbound leg to Bermuda is sailed singlehanded, the return leg is sailed doublehanded.

At the start, it was evident the weather forecast would ultimately hold true. It showed a light airs start on Friday, then a building classic "northeaster" of 20-30 kts developing for the next 24 hours due to an unusual feature of a Low-pressure system forming, then deepening offshore east of Cape Cod. Then, backing into the NNW and getting lighter for the next 24-48 hours. The European model showed this feature persisting until Tuesday. It did and it was much stronger than forecast!

As a result, the top J/Boats to finish was Peter Gustafsson's J/111 BLUR, traversing the race track in 4 days 39 minutes to become the 4th boat to finish elapsed. Second on elapsed was Peter Becker's J/105 YOUNG AMERICAN, and third on elapsed was Gregg Carville's J/35 BREAKAWAY.. all finishing within one hour of each other!

Division 1
In the "big boat" division, Gustafsson's J/111 BLUR ended up 4th on PHRF handicap, Scott Miller's J/46 RESOLUTE was 5th, and Dave Southwell's J/121 ALCHEMY was 6th.

Division 2
In the "medium boat" division comprised of mostly 33 to 35-footers, Carville's J/35 BREAKAWAY took the silver medal while Peter Becker's J/105 YOUNG AMERICAN took the bronze medal. Then, ending up 5th place was Tom O'Connell's J/99 FINALE.

Fleet reports:

The coolest part of the Bermuda One-Two is they request (virtually mandatory) that each boat provides a morning and evening update/ synopsis... mostly for safety so that race organizers can keep track of "who's where & what's going on". It is also entertaining reading as you gain a perspective of sailing offshore singlehanded from these experienced sailors. The unofficial "J/Pulitzer Prize" is a tie between the J/111 BLUR and the J/35 BREAKAWAY!! Here are the reports, as written from each boat during their 4 days on the water.

J/111 BLUR - Peter Gustafsson

3 June 0800- The wind is here. 20 knots from NE, so pretty much what the models said. Fast. But uncomfortable. Yesterday was fantastic sailing, and pretty much a drag race on starboard. I opted for a more northern route both for pressure during the night, but also to be well positioned when the low came. The wind was variable and I went back and forth between jib, code, and A3. Parked up two times, but mostly had better speed than the boats to the south. Add mist. And lots of whales blowing around the boat. My routing, although I doubted it a few times, seems to have worked, as I'm ahead of the group going east. The only boat that I know dived south was the Class 40. If everything goes according to plan I'll enter the Gulf Stream at 16:00. Exciting! PS. Did something happen with Abilyn? Saw him turn around and then lost his AIS.

4 June 1800- Finally! For those of you that follow the tracker my performance in the last 24 hours has been really bad. I paid to go east to enter the Gulf Stream at a place where the chance of adverse current should be low, and then I could go south after the bad sea state was over. Instead, I got 80 nm with 3.0-4.2 knots current going 330-360, WTF! And this against 2-30 knots of wind. And I can't see this in any models or the maps I got before the race. I tried to go even further east to get relief, but no sign of any. Then finally I just had to eat it and pound south, straight against it.

Anyhow. Newbie mistake? Or bad intel. Gave up a lot of distance. But now I got 26C in the water and 5 knots of current going 110. Looking better. But still bumpy as we're doing 9-11 knots with just the jib. The Main might go up tomorrow as I've been able to catch up on sleep. Wind should stay at 24-26 knots into the afternoon. Time to catch some boats.

4 June 2000- Sunday 18:00 EDT- A long day with lots going on. After being miserable about the current for a while, I put the hammer down. For 6+ hours I averaged 9.75 knots (11.6 SOG) and finally found the current going the right way. Full main & jib was plenty and hand-steered most of the day to keep the speed up. The wind was between 20 and 26 knots. In the end, I averaged 11.5 and topped out at 18. The wind gusted 30. The seas were huge and I avoided surfing several of the biggest waves for safety reasons. Borderline condition, and I ended up taking the main down. Need to fix the halyard cover + get some rest. And eat. Still doing 11 knots SOG. As I said, I'm not here to win but to finish in one piece. And pushing too hard can be costly. Had a rendezvous with Diantus. We talked on the VHF, waved, and took photos. Otherwise not many boats around. The model says that the wind will go below 20 knots tomorrow morning, so then I hope for some champagne sailing. 260 nm to go.

5 June 0800- Good news or bad news first? First, the good news is that the big A2 gennaker is up and we're doing good speeds on port gybe. Looks like one gybe and similar conditions all the way to Bermuda. Let's try and catch some more boats. 170 nm to go and ETA is tomorrow morning. The second good news is that I've managed to both eat and sleep well, so just keep it up. Simple Minds are played really loud and life in general is good. I managed to get through the nasty stuff without breaking anything on the boat except the main halyard extra cover. Should naturally have replaced it sooner. The bad news then? I think I might have cracked a rib or two when a big wave slammed me into the mast taking the main down yesterday. Hurts like hell, but I'm able to sail the boat at 100%. The ship's doctor has ordinated lots of painkillers and also a "Swedish Fish" (the candy) whenever the skipper feels sorry for himself. On the nature side of things; besides all the whales Friday night, I had a bunch of dolphins play around the bow just now. Found a flying fish in the cockpit this morning and had an exhausted bird take refuge on the boat for several hours. Small things become notable out here!

5 June 2000- Yup. Like any regular Monday, I punched in bright and early and kept hammering all day. Sunny and nice, but winds are very variable with both wind cells and patches of no wind. Have been going back and forth between A3 (light reaching) and A2 (running in >6 knots). Quite a procedure to get one down and the other one up, running around the boat connected. And then someone needs to pack them. Who? Looking at me? I've passed a few boats, and I just got J/121 Alchemy showing up on my AIS. 15 nm ahead, but still I have contact. I think they were almost twice that ahead at one point. Now the wind is 6-8 knots from 260. Pretty comfortable now, but we'll see what happens with 127nm to go. Thanks for all advice regarding my broken ribs. No bruises, no blood in the urine, and generally feel very good except when I bump into things or when try special bowman poses (like jamming yourself in the pulpit to sort out the tack lines. PAINFUL! But I can scream out loud without anyone hearing. After 500 nm, I'm asking myself if I enjoy this type of solo sailing. I thought the feeling of being alone for such a long time would feel different. I'm not hating it (I might have a few days ago) but I don't get that special feeling I hoped for, or maybe feared, I might need some perspective before I decide.

6 June 0800- Best feeling ever: sunrise, an espresso, and trucking along with the A2. And painkillers:-) Last night I had J/121 Alchemy 15nm ahead, and now they're 12nm behind. Maybe not in race mode anymore? We were doing similar speeds, but since I put up the A2 at 0230 hrs we've been faster than most boats around. I could have deployed it earlier, but I wanted some sleep to be ready for anything. The wind is steady at 10-12 knots from NNW. The sea-state is good so the autopilot manages really well. We're gaining more and more trust, me and "Frank" (the name for my autopilot alter ego). He didn't do well in the huge seas Saturday, so there was some yelling on my part. But getting to know him better (and playing with the settings) has improved my trust in him. He's called "Frank" after "The Transporter"-movies. If you know, you know. Just 40 nm to the finish. I guess I lost track of time, and it sure doesn't feel like I'm on day 4. I could just continue sailing like this for days or weeks. I guess that is a clear vote for this type of sailing. But at the same time, I really want to hang out with other people and have a few cold beers and some laughs. And being interrupted by silly texts from Molly and Anneli (daughter & partner). Miss them. I guess it's the contrasts that appeal to me. I wonder if the weather is nice in Bermuda? I've never been there but many people seem to like it. Anything that should be on my list of "things to do"? Oh, I also need to know where I can find a really good barber.

J/121 Alchemy - Dave Southwell

3 June 0800- Morning Roy- I didn't reach anyone this morning- may have to do with me heading a bit more east to avoid the worst of the stream. We'll see if it works!

3 June 2000- No one on VHF tonight. Was chatting with Blur this morning. No problems. Winds 30 kts, found current. 10 kts thru the water, 5 kts adverse current, but Peter (Blur) doesn't think he is in the Gulf Stream.

4 June 0800- Morning Roy- no dice on the VHF this morning. I'm in the south Gulfstream with a nice favorable current, but no wind. But, I'm heading in the right direction!

4 June 2000- Wind direction vane broke in a 45-knot squall. The boat broached and the main literally ripped in half. Got it tied down, hooked up the spare wind vane, proceeding under jib. Luckily downwind! I'm at 35.51.289N 66.27.714 W. Sorry Scott, I've done it to you again.

5 June 0800- I'm having a fine ride under Jib alone into Bermuda. ETA Tuesday during the day sometime I think but we'll see. I'm going to finish the race under sail unless we get a wicked southerly.

6 June 0800- Morning Roy- I'm beginning to wonder why I had a mainsail in the first place! The fo'csle crew is having their day. Looks like a downwind finish for me.

J/99 Finale - Tom O'Connell

3 June 1300- I'm overpowered with 2 reefs in the main and heading mostly 180-190. Probably will take down the main.

4 June 1800- Just to let u know I am OK but not sure AIS is still working sailing on a reefed jib. Still have foul current. No group chat on Ch. 72 working for me.

5 June 0800- Now sailing with full main and about 40 hours out from Bermuda sailed up to MELANTHO to offer assistance as his electronics are out. He seemed ok and is making progress to Bermuda under Jib.

5 June 1100- After all the horror of the last two days today is a Champaign sailing day! I am sailing with a full main and number 3 jib in 13-15 knots of wind coming from the northwest. With 2.5 knots of favorable current. My speeds are consistently over 9 knots (just hit 10.0) surfing down some nice swells. It is a little overcast and cool I am 230nm out close to the rhumb line with an ETA of 25 hours if this keeps up I could break out a spinnaker but why add stress when you are having fun?

5 June 2000- I just finished my pasta primavera (freeze-dried of course) 4 Oreo cookies, some English breakfast tea, and listened to Willie Nelson on my speakers. So net-net life is good and it is a beautiful sunset with 11 knots of breeze as I travel slightly west of the rum line in some favorable current. May make Bermuda tomorrow late or early Tuesday.

6 June 0800- It is 4:00 am on June 6th (I think). I made it back to the rhumb line avoiding a line of nasty-looking squalls and jibed over to 172 degrees. The seas have a small swell with some breaking waves and with the wind out of 312 degrees and averaging 17-20 knots I am on an adrenaline rush: averaging 7.5 knots with nice surfs up to 8.5-10 knots in the puffs. Instruments say I might finish before midnight but we shall see how the morning progresses. Holding on!

6 June 1300- I am about 76 miles out and going like the clappers in heavy surfing swells No kite needed -unless one wants to buy a new one in Bermuda! Expect to finish around midnight. Probably bounce around outside till the morning light, pending direction from Bermuda radio Not sure my VHF base radio Is working properly but have several handhelds. Let me know when you see me on AIS! Great surfing!

J/35 Breakaway - Gregg Carville

2 June 2000- Hello Roy, It was a beautiful afternoon for a sail, until the last hour or so when the air just went poof. Very light out here, but the fog went away. Wish the wind would make up its mind about a direction. During the radio check, I heard Corvus talk to someone but did not hear the someone. That happened a lot. Bluebird says iridium go has failed. Fearless has intermittent wind instrument problems. Abilene has done well after a late start catching up with the fleet. Had a cable rip out of the instruments displays and that tanked his system? Heard Envolee too I could see Resolute, Abilene, I'll Tender. And, in the distance Young American, Melantho, Envolee, Finale, and maybe a couple of others.

3 June 0800- Well it's gotten pretty frisky out here as of late. I've reefed the main and the jib. I'm with Melantho, he's caught me finally. Resolute is reefs and going to a heavy weather jib. Melantho is putting his autopilot for a workout. I'll tender is ahead of me. Envolee is to windward about 2 miles. A few folks behind on AIS. The big tragedy of today was when my hot chocolate spilled over the stove and floor. Hanging in with anything I can.

3 June 2000- All is wet here. It's been a rather unfortunate 12 hours. The seas are rough, the wind is up and it's the same old, same old. Not much fun I'm afraid, but at least it isn't raining, though I'm sure that's in the future. I have been seeing Reveille and Luna on AIS, and occasionally Resolute.

I had a lovely sail change earlier with dolphins jumping from the waves and doing full breach dives. Pretty cool. I heard a radio transmission that Elementary was withdrawing, but it was broken up, so not certain about that. Another 24-plus hours of this to go I think.

4 June 0800- Tell Roy I'm sorry he hasn't been getting all my pithy comments about how wonderful things are out here. Not sure what that setting is that you can read and he can not. Predict Wind has some stuff that works great, and other stuff not so much. The blog isn't working well either, oh well. The short of it is that everything is wet here. Checked in with Reveille and can see Resolute and Luna (sometimes) on AIS. I continue to plug along, heading a bit east in search of some current and an angle for the next wind shift which I think will be WNW. Meanwhile, I have the #4 and 2 reefs in the main and that keeps the boat pretty flat. About every hour or so I get a good wave over the boat. Otherwise, it's just spray on the deck. I'm hoping I'll get some food to stay with me today, though I'm in fine fettle about it all. I had a beauty of sail change yesterday with dolphins doing full leaps from the waves right in front of me. I felt like I was in a flipper episode. I think I am around halfway or so, and things are pointed in the right direction. This is Breakaway's post to a blog: The breeze goes up, the breeze goes down, it goes up again...

It's just a game of having a bit of hope and then having it dashed, currently, the wind is up and the boat is moving, other boats seem to be making better speed at a better angle, but I'm not able to do that. I do have the A3 up now which was a real joy in light air before. With about 7 knots I can at least keep it full. Currently, I am working on figuring out the best angle to get the deepest and still have good speed. Looks like I am about to get a small rain storm, this could prove interesting.

No rain, just more wind, it's up to 12-15 or so and I'm reaching. Glad I have the A3. I might need to go to the zero soon if this keeps up. I put the 142 below and did the best below-deck flake and roll I could, I don't think I'll need that sail for another couple of days. Meanwhile, I'm curious to see how much it goes to the East.

Too much I think, I took the A3 down and am now running with the number 3. I think I lost half a knot, and I could probably put the staysail up to help, but it was getting a little exciting with the chute, I played it conservatively as there is a lot of racing to go and the wind is only supposed to build. I could have gone to the zero, but I think that would get a little too exciting as the wind builds, and changing these sails takes a bit out of me, so I'm holding off for now. If it goes below 10 I'll put it up, but right now the lowest I've seen is 15.

4 June 0900- lt is still wet here. About every half hour or so I get a good wave over the boat. I'm playing with the course trying to minimize wave encounters and maximize my speed and where I want to go. I went from the storm jib to the 4 and that has helped with speed. Probably should have done that earlier but I kept waiting for the 30-33 knots to come back.

I spoke with REVEILLE this morning and he and Resolute are about 5 miles ahead of me. I saw Luna on AIS briefly. He was on my stern quarter. I haven't seen anyone else.

I'm heading a little east of the rhumb line for some current and then a possible tack as the winds shift to the west and we head to Bermuda. Distance wise I think I'm almost halfway.

I hope I can keep some food down today, the waves have gotten to me.

5 June 0600- Now able to read Breakaway emails: Things are still rocking and rolling out here, I have a bit of a current helping me along so that is nice, I've been doing about 20 miles for the past few hours, the waves and surfing help too. I could see Resolute and Alchemy on AIS, though Alchemy disappeared to the east. No one replied on the radio. Things are pretty calm here still reefed with the 4. Debating going with the 3 as the winds ease. However when the wind puffs to above 25 I am not too keen on more sail area. I have found myself rounding up from time to time and auto can't get the boat down again, it's annoying but manageable. That's all for now.

5 June 0800- Things are very slow right now, the breeze has eased and I'm nosing along towards Bermuda. Got the chute up this morning around 3 am and it has kept me moving. I'm afraid those west of the rhumb line might have more breeze from the west, we shall see. I'm going to play my angles as best I can right here. Spoke with Resolute this morning, all is well there, he is about to put up his chute in a bit. Reveille was on AIS and Scott spoke to him, but I only heard Scott. I made a middle-of-the-night tired choice to gybe to the west thinking I was seeing a wind shift, it was a silly way to spend an hour or so and cost me some miles. Feeling much better this morning and haven't spilled my hot chocolate yet.

5 June 1100- Things are very slow right now, the breeze has eased and I'm nosing along towards Bermuda. Got the chute up this morning around 3 and it has kept me moving. I'm afraid those west of the rhumb line might have more breeze from the west, we shall see. I'm going to play my angles best I can right here.

5 June 2000- Moving right along now after a lot of light air in the mid-morning to early afternoon. I did circles amongst the comb jellies. Right now I'm flying the staysail with the headsail and am moving along nicely. Cross my fingers we keep breeze up thru the night. We shall see. Last I checked it looked like First Light and Young American were well on their way to finishing. Pretty cool. I'll be curious to hear their tales of the Gulf Stream and the choices they made. Both went west early and often. Resolute is still beside me. I can see Scott in the sunset. Otherwise no other boats on AIS. I presume that I will see more as we converge on Bermuda. It will be interesting to see where people are and how they line up. I know it is early but I would be thrilled to finish in the daylight and not tomorrow night, we shall see. My DTW is 105nm to Kitchen Shoals.

6 June 0800- I can't see Bermuda but supposedly it is 35 miles away. Young American and I have crossed paths a couple of times this morning, they are in the lead. Though my angle is deeper, should be interesting to see how it all plays out. I don't know where Resolute is, last I saw they were on the gybe to the east. No response on VHF. I hope to be in after lunchtime. We shall see.

J/105 Young American

2 June 2000- got focused on no wind sailing and did not attend chat hour I can see most of the fleet on AIS - most are going very very slowly - Cole appears to be in a good spot in the front of the pack.:) 3 June 1030- had a little issue with the spin all good now lots of hand steering now (his boat had slowed down on the tracker).

The next leg is the doublehanded race from Bermuda back to Newport. That start is on June 15th, Thursday. In the meantime, the sailors get to lick their wounds, get some well-deserved R&R, meet new friends, do some exploring of that magical island Bermuda, have a few "dark & stormies", buy Bermuda shorts & socks, and do any repairs as needed on their boats.

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