All-women crew win Newport-Bermuda Race

For the first time in the 100-year history of the race, an all-women crew won the cruising division of the Newport-Bermuda Race. The crew of seven women was led by navigator Val Doan and captain/owner Lea de Haas, who provided her 1975 Admiral’s Cup vessel Synergy, a Frers 49, for the cause. They placed 14th overall; 265 vessels participated. Doan organized the group under the banner Team WAVE, an acronym for Women Against Violence Everywhere. The win was especially poignant for its historic context: women were not allowed to participate in the race for the first 50 years.

Doan used an infrared printout of surface temperatures, which was given to all navigators before the race. With no Internet hookup aboard, once Synergy left port, the crew was on its own, lacking technology other than a knot meter, GPS and temperature gauge. Nailing the Gulf Stream and cold eddy were crucial to the outcome, according to Doan. Synergy hit speeds of 10 knots over the ground at times in 4.5 knots of breeze and 4 knots of boat speed in the eddy’s conveyer belt – this after a virtual drift across the stream.

Doan won the Navigator’s Award, which was presented by Governor Vereker at the Governor’s Mansion in Bermuda. HRH Princess Anne presented de Haas the Carleton Mitchell Finisterre half-model trophy for winning Cruising Division. The Princess also visited Synergy and Team WAVE on the dock at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Further information is available at

By Ocean Navigator