The Newport Bermuda Race 2014: And They’re off and Thrashing

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HIRO MARU and the Class 1 St. David's Lighthouse Division Start 2014 (Photo by George Bekris)

HIRO MARU and the Class 1 St. David’s Lighthouse Division Start 2014 (Photo by George Bekris)

It Was a Little Messy, but the Bermuda Race Fleet has Started

Spirit of Bermuda Starts off the Race for 2014 (Photo By George Bekris)

Spirit of Bermuda Starts off the Race for 2014 (Photo By George Bekris)

By John Rousmaniere

If it was more fun for  spectators than the sailors, the reason was the sea breeze that inched toward the starting line until it finally dominated the northerly.Newport. RI, June 20, 2014, 7 PM.  Who would have thought that spinnakers would be flown at the starts of two Newport Bermuda Races in a row?  The race did not gain its well-known nickname, “The Thrash to the Onion Patch,” because it’s a downwind sleigh ride, like the Transpac.  The 2012 start was a fast run before a fresh northerly for every one of the 165 boats in every class.  This year was a little more complicated for the 164 starters. As the five divisions in 14 classes got going over a period of two and one-half hours, the first half of the fleet in seven starts got away in a leftover northerly breeze under spinnaker.   Not so the last seven.  Like a typical summer day on Long Island Sound, the mouth of Narragansett Bay was full of confusion.

Some of the Class 2 fleet St. David's Lighthouse Division Start 2014  (Photo by George Bekris)

Some of the Class 2 fleet St. David’s Lighthouse Division Start 2014 (Photo by George Bekris)

(Photo by George Bekris)

(Photo by George Bekris)

The afternoon’s winners appear to be the boats that started early, Classes 1, 2, and 3–the smaller and medium-size boats in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division.  With the light to moderate northerly on their stern, they tacked downwind to the buoy marking the outer reaches of Brenton Reef, and carried their chutes around the mark and onto the southeasterly course to Bermuda. When the southwester filled in like a light summer blanket, all they had to do was raise the jib, douse the spinnaker, and tack onto starboard, meanwhile holding the same course.

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One of the biggest of those winners may be Sinn Fein, the Cal 40 that’s always sailed well by Peter Rebovich, Sr., and his crew of family and friends from Raritan Yacht Club, in New Jersey.  The two-time winners of the St. David’s Lighthouse Division (in 2006 and 2008), they’ve been preoccupied by other concerns since the 2012 race: rebuilding their boat after she was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Today they set the spinnaker promptly and effectively, found the right apparent wind angle, and pulled away. When last seen, Sinn Fein was on the far horizon, closehauled in the seabreeze and racing to Bermuda near the head of a clump of at least 50 other smaller boats. The Pantaenius tracker at 3 p.m. (about two hours after the Class 1 start) showed Sinn Fein slightly behind William Klein’s CC 40, Glim. We’ll know when we see later tracker readings (being sure to remember the 4-hour time delay) and a get a sense of the wind and wave conditions as the big fleet gets out into the Atlantic.

(Photo by George Bekris)

(Photo by George Bekris)

But at least everybody’s racing, and headed toward the Gulf Stream, where (the forecasters are telling us) they may find more to worry about than a shifty wind—such as squalls and big seas that could turn this race into a real thrash.The boats that started an hour or so later than Class 1 had any number of troubles as the seabreeze slowly pushed away the northerly. At one moment a Class 6 medium-size St. David’s Lighthouse boat with a red spinnaker up and pulling well on port tack was less than 25 yards abeam of another Class 6 boat with a green and yellow chute pulling well on starboard tack.  A few minutes later, the seabreeze reached the starting line in the mouth of Narragansett Bay just as Class 8 (large St. David’s boats) was making its final approach—some running in the dying northerly, others beating in the slowly building southerly.

(Photo by George Bekris)

(Photo by George Bekris)

 

For More Photos of the Newport Bermuda Race visit George Bekris Photography HERE 

 

 

– See more at bout the race at: http://bermudarace.com/little-messy-bermuda-race-fleet-started/#sthash.aMUaHBGw.dpuf

 

 

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