By Newport Bermuda Race Media Team
Instead of 200 boats starting the 52nd Newport Bermuda Race today as planned, a digital version will begin off Castle Hill Lighthouse at 1pm local time with more than twice as many boats competing. In partnership with Sailonline.org, a popular sailboat-racing simulator, the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee created the 2020 Online Newport Bermuda Race (#N2BOnline), and sailors have responded.
“We have a great mix of competitors signed up from North America and overseas,” said Somers Kempe, the online race chair. “They include sailors from aboard more than 50 of our original race entrants as well as those who were already part of the Sailonline race community. The Sailonline sailors, by the way, have been extremely welcoming, providing chat advice and tutorials for the new-to-online-sailing racers.”
Sailors register at BermudaRace.com for prizes provided by Goslings Rum, then head to that race-simulation platform at Sailonline.org, where they navigate a sailboat design at computer-predicted speeds for 635 nautical miles through changing winds, updated regularly by the live NOAA global forecast.
Four divisions of competitors will sail—from cruisers to flat-out racers—mimicking the multi-division nature of the on-water race. Watch for updates at bermudarace.com; prizes will be distributed at a virtual awards ceremony hosted by Goslings Rum on June 27. For each division, a different boat model has been sponsored to take part, as shown below:
The Dehler 46 is the chosen boat for traditionally the biggest division in the on-water race. Boats in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division are steered by amateurs only and most range from 35 to 50 feet. The Dehler 46, built in Germany, is a Judel/Vrolijk cruiser/racer with a fast hull shape and big rig; racers will be pushing 8 to 10 knots when the breeze comes up, possibly more. She is sponsored for this race by McMichael Yacht Yards and Brokers based on Long Island Sound and in Newport.
The Xp 55 from X-Yachts in Denmark is the longest boat model in the online race, so it’s been chosen for the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division, which normally features the fastest boats in the on-water race with professional sailors among their crews. Designed by Neils Jeppesen, the Xp 55 has a large sailplan and is very fast upwind and close reaching, particularly in light to medium air. This makes her an ideal Bermuda Race boat given the race’s typical winds. She is sponsored for this race by X-Yachts North America and Bob Rodgers Yachts Sales in Connecticut.
At 33 feet, the Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300 is the smallest boat in our online race and was selected for our Double-Handed Division (two sailors per boat). The Sun Fast brand has become well known for great shorthanded sailing boats, and the water-ballasted 3300, launched in 2019, fits the mold well. Designed by Daniel Andrieu and Guillaume Verdier and named Sailing World Boat of the Year in 2019, the boat has a powerful, well-balanced shape with two unique concave hull sections on the centerline; the forward one helps change trim in light air and the after one promotes planing in a breeze. The Sun Fast 3300 is sponsored for this race by Jeanneau North America.
The new 50-foot Italia 14.98 is a Maurizio Cossutti luxury performance cruiser chosen for the Finisterre Division for cruising boats typically ranging from 40 to 65 feet long. The predicted speeds from Italia Yachts show a remarkably close-winded boat that will be reaching and running at 10 to 12 knots given a good breeze. The boat is so new that hull no. 1 won’t be launched until August. The 14.98 is sponsored by the Italia Yachts rep in the U.S., David Walters Yachts, which has offices from Maine to Florida and in California.