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Looking ahead at the 2024 Newport Bermuda race

by David Schmidt 18 Jun 16:00 BST June 18, 2024
Newport Bermuda Race © Daniel Forster

When it comes to classic 600-mile bluewater races, the biennial Newport Bermuda Race is one of the world's great offshore contests. Unlike some of its peers, including the Fastnet Race or the Sydney Hobart Race, the 636 nautical mile Bermuda Race takes place out of sight of land, giving sailors a real taste of crossing a large body of brine.

While the 1906 inaugural Newport Bermuda Race was organized by the Cruising Club of America, the 2024 race is being organized by the Bermuda Race Foundation, and is set to begin on Friday, June 21 at 1400 hours, local time.

Also, unlike the original, the 2024 edition will be the first to start on the waters just off Newport's Fort Adams, giving spectators a fantastic opportunity to see different classes embark on one of the sailing world's great adventures.

As of this writing (Monday morning, June 17), 164 boats are registered to compete. These yachts range in size and complexity from Fearless, Phil Hayden's Sunfast 3300, which he will race doublehanded with Alex Kraebel, to OC86, Oakcliff Sailing's Maxz86, which will be raced in its fully crewed mode.

While the entry list details many fast rides and capable crews, a few standouts that could challenge Comanche's 2016 record for the fastest elapsed time (1 day, 10 hours, 42 minutes, and 53 seconds) for a monohull include Roy Disney's Pyewacket 70, which is a turbo'ed Volvo Open 70, and Johannes Schwarz's Ocean Breeze, which is a Volvo Open 70.

Other line honors contenders could include Proteus, George Sakellaris's Judel/Vrolijk 72, and Boudicca, Rich Moody's Reichel/Pugh 66.

On the multihull side, Allegra, Adrian Keller's Nigel Irens 82, which will be skippered by Paul Larsen, will attempt to take a bite out of the current multihull elapsed time record of 1 day, 9 hours, and 9 nine seconds, which was established by Jason Carroll's MOD70 Argo in 2022. (N.B. The Allegra crew will have their work cut out for them, even with one of the world's fastest sailors calling the shots, as MOD70s are just plain fast.)

While the go-fast boats tend to draw a lot of attention, especially with the expected packed crowds at Fort Adams, one of the coolest evolutions in the storied Newport Bermuda Race is the continued popularity of the doublehanded class. This year, fourteen doublehanded teams have entered. These steeds range in size from Fearless to Esplanade, Rick Pedone's Morris/Robinson Apogee 50.

Finally, in the Super Yacht Division, co-skippers Michael Fortenbaugh and Shannon Earle should enjoy a more comfortable ride than most aboard Arabella, their 154-foot Palmer Johnson schooner.

While it's way too early (again, as of this writing) to say anything of value about the expected weather, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts is calling for relatively moderate condition on the racetrack for the week, with building winds on Monday and Tuesday. NOAA's GFS forecast largely parallels this prediction but anticipates the stronger airs arriving on Sunday afternoon and evening.

One thing that could be different this year is the expected prevalence of Starlink panels (read: fast internet offshore), which could mean better weather routing for teams as they vie for class and overall honors.

For those of us who are stuck watching this bluewater classic unfurl from afar, the expected uptick in Starlink panels could also mean more interesting news and social media posts coming from the fleet as they charge from Newport's protected waters, across the Gulf Stream, and on to the beautiful island nation of Bermuda.

Sail-World wishes all teams safe and fun passages to Bermuda.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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