The Newport to Bermuda Race is thriving. The race committee has announced that the race is on track to be the second largest running of the race ever, with a predicted 220 boats starting the race on June 20.
The race isn’t the navigational challenge it used to be back in the days when racers relied on celestial navigation, but it still requires dealing with the Gulf Stream and its fickle meanders and eddies (both warm and cold). That’s challenge enough for any ocean racer.
From the press release: With the April 1 Application for Entry deadline looming a few weeks away, 200 boats have been nominated for participation in the 2008 Newport Bermuda Race. An additional 15 skippers have begun the entry process, but have yet to name the boats they will race this year. Organizers predict up to 220 boats on the staring line on June 20, making this the second largest fleet in the history of the race, surpassed only by the 264 entries in the 2006 centennial event.
The second century of racing to Bermuda starts June 20th off Castle Hill in Newport, Rhode Island, and finishes off St. David’s Lighthouse in Bermuda after crossing 635 miles of open ocean. Accepted yachts have until mid-May to complete the entry process. See who is entered to date at the race website, http://www.bermudarace.com/
“What’s exciting about the applications thus far,” said Participation Chairman Richard Shulman, “is that out of the 200 entries we have in hand, 72 are boats new to the race, and 45 skippers are Newport Bermuda Race first-timers as well.”
“These new entries are primarily sailors with solid amateur programs and substantial near-shore racing experience,” Shulman continued. “The Newport Bermuda Race organization has a long history of commitment to safety, and is dedicated to supporting sailors in their quest to participate in blue water sailing in one of the world’s classic ocean races. It’s the perfect venue for sailors who are ready to step up to their first ‘thrash to the Onion Patch.’ This race across the Gulf Stream has become a rite of passage for sailors – and has divisions tailored for the most amateur Corinthian crews to the highest-profile professional programs.”
In addition to the big group of newcomers and the traditional core of amateur-crewed racer/cruisers, the race is attracting sailing celebrities and some fast boats eyeing first-to-finish laurels in several divisions. Nick Nicholson, chairman for 2008 said, “One of our recent entries is George David’s 90-foot Rambler, which has been setting elapsed-time records and winning corrected-time victories in races all over the world.”
“Rambler won’t have an easy time in her push for line honors,” Nicholson commented. “Her usual racing skipper, Ken Read, will be driving his new Volvo Open 70 Puma, making her offshore racing debut prior to the 2008 Volvo Ocean Race. The new Juan K 30-metre canting-keel Speedboat, nearing completion in New Zealand, will also debut in the Open Division alongside Puma.” Stan Honey, winning navigator of the 2005-2006 Volvo Ocean race aboard ABN Amro 1, will be guiding Speedboat down the Newport to Bermuda course.