The 50th Thrash to the Onion Patch, the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race, has not been a dash. Following Comanche’s record-breaking run to Bermuda, chopping almost five hours off the 2012 numbers, the fleet stalled against the northern wall of a high-pressure system. They stopped just above the Gulf Stream. The lead boats slowly began to work their way into the new breeze in the early morning MondayVamp, Lenny Sitar’s J44 sailing mid-fleet, popped through the wall and reported they were finally sailing under spinnaker making 9-10 knots on a beautiful Monday morning.

The lead boats for ‘traditional’ line honours based on positions late Monday were Maximizer a Farr 72, Siren, and High Noon are estimated to finish between 1:00AM and 3:00AM EDT on Tuesdaymorning. Orca is bringing up the rear and predicted to finish in the late afternoon on Friday 24 June, a week after their start. They certainly have not experienced any of the rough weather predicted that scared away so many entries… much the opposite so far, it seems.

Of the 184 boats that had checked in to race before the start in Newport,  46 did not start and seven have withdrawn for various mechanical reasons. All of the Gibbs Hill Division boats decided not to race, including all three Maxi72’s that might have challenged Comanche for line honors.

Maxi72 Bella Mente’s team issued the following statement, “After much consideration and research on the weather patterns forecasted for the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race, Bella Mente has made the difficult decision to withdraw from the event.” The rough weather predicted by some forecast models was the reason so many boats did not start. They were being safe and conservative, but their fears and the predictions proved unfounded. At 5:00pm EDT Monday, race communications reported, “It appears that there is very light air in their area at the western edge of the fleet.  Boats around Spirit of Bermuda show boat speeds of 2 knot + or minus.

Word from the Fleet
By John Rousmaniere.

Punching Through the Stream, the Pack Nears Bermuda
When dawn blessed Bermuda on Monday, Comanche was still a very lonely yacht in the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club marina a full day after the 100-footer’s crew, led by Kenny Read with navigator Stan Honey, broke the course record by nearly 5 hours. –MORE

Drive On! 
Stuart Streuli, racing in Defiance, reports the joys of steering a good boat in a good breeze–and the doubts and training that brought him there. “Whatever comes, we’ll keep driving on,” he writes. “Getting too focused on the finish will only make it take longer to reach.” –MORE

The Road to Bermuda: So That’s How You Find the Gulf Stream!
Chris Museler updates Aura’s progress and morale as the race reaches midpoint, with Father’s Day, steering lessons, and some insights into the Stream and navigation all coming together during one watch. -MORE-

To Shower or Not to Shower, 
That is the Question (Oh, and Here Comes the Gulf Stream). Stuart Streuli continues his reports from Cruiser Division entry Defiance with reflections on ocean racing comfort, the next generation of sailors, and the frustrations of pressing hard through calms until the breeze finally picks up and the boat nears the Stream. –MORE

NOTE: A four-hour delay is imposed on reports to prevent competitors from taking advantage of learning about other boats’ positions and performance.

Virtual spectators can watch the race unfold as their favorite yachts, skippers, or crewmembers in this 635-mile ocean classic tack and gybe their way through the Gulf Stream and hunt for the wind in the ‘happy valley’ north of Bermuda. All boats in the 2016 fleet will be tracked by YB satellite trackers as live as it can be on Pantaenius Race Tracking — — your link to all the action in the race.