The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee (BROC) announced today that they cancelled the 2020 Newport Bermuda Race due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The biennial race, founded in 1906, had 200 entries and was due to start for the 52nd time on June 19.
“As representatives of the race’s co-sponsoring clubs—the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club—the BROC believes in promoting the practice of safety as a way of life offshore,” Jay Gowell, BROC Chairman, wrote in a letter to competitors today.
“Our Committee has always held the position that we can only conduct the Bermuda Race if conditions for competitors and local populations made it safe to do so. After continuing to seek guidance from numerous government and medical advisors, it has become evident there is no longer a timeline allowing our sailors and supporters to prepare for and participate in this offshore race safely.”
The driving factor in the decision was reducing the risk of exposure to competitors and the community. Preparing boats for an offshore race takes time, commitment, and logistics that may expose communities and families unnecessarily. Sailing offshore may result in contact with asymptomatic infected shipmates during the race and could adversely affect the Bermudian population at the conclusion of the race.
“This decision is extremely disappointing to our sailors as well as organizers,” Gowell said. “As an international race organizing authority, it is our responsibility to be a part of the solution to reduce the risk of exposure.”
The next edition of the Newport Bermuda Race is scheduled to begin on June 17th, 2022.