The 50th thrash to the Onion Patch starts in Narragansett Bay’s East Passage at 3:00pm on Friday, with Castle Hill providing a grandstand view.

Last minute preparations were underway early for the Newport Bermuda Race fleet getting ready for the first warning of the 50th Thrash to the Onion Patch at 2:50PM EDT this afternoon [June 17]. The start is later than previous races because the timing of the tide. There are 17 Classes this year. If all goes well, the first start, the 4-boat Spirit of Tradition Division, will start at 3:00PM. Subsequent starts are planned at 10 minute intervals as posted on the event website Starting Order.

Race organizers and competitors have been concerned about rough weather in and south of the Gulf Stream on the course to Bermuda. Race Chairman AJ Evans, Principal Race Officer John Osmond, CCA Commodore Jim Binch and RBYC Commodore Leatrice Oatley met Friday morning to review the latest forecasts. Evans confirmed that the race will start on time. Morning forecasts suggest that the winds predicted earlier in the week should moderate.

Earlier Thursday and on Friday morning a few boats had decided to withdraw based on long range predictions of high winds up to 45kts and up to 18 foot seas in the Gulf Stream. Winds should be from northeast to east stacking up the waves against the north and east-bound current. The predictions issued late in the morning of the start were more moderate… a beat into the sea breeze at the start, then very light winds becoming northeast to east 10-20 kts for the approach to the top of the stream. The stream will be rough with 20 to 30kts. In the ‘Happy Valley’ approach to Bermuda, the winds are predicted to shift to the south or southwest. There will be something for everyone in this 110th year of racing to Bermuda.

There are several ways to watch the start. On the water spectator boats are allowed on the sides of the starting area and outside of the restricted areas for boats that are starting or have started and outside of the Press Alley near the committee boat end of the line. Spectator boats must keep clear of the restricted areas for boats in their starting sequence and keep out of the press alley at all times.

Because the race start is so close to land, many spectators gather at shore side public areas such as Brenton Point and Beaver Tail (near Jamestown).  Nearest to the start is the famous Castle Hill Inn with its sloping waterfront lawn.

Watch the start and follow your favorites to Bermuda

If you cannot be in Newport, the start will come to you. Watch on Livestream 2PM-5PM for live video and commentary on the start. Commentator Andy Green will be host the program from the Inn at Castle Hill overlooking the starting line. With cameras on the hill and on the water, he’ll get close to the action bringing live sailing directly to you. Audio also airs on Newport radio FM 105.9.

Green will also post race updates with commentary at 10AM EDT, and at 12, 2, and 5PM daily throughout the race. Facebook, twitter, and the web will be buzzing with news and reports

Virtual spectators canl watch the story 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 — www.pantaenius.com/NBRtracking — your link to all the action in the race.

Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and serves on the Board of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and Lucy's Hearth. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.