Newport to Bermuda Race

Cruising Club of America & Royal Bermuda Yacht Club | Atlantic Ocean | Jun 17-21, 2022 | SRM VII (Swan 601)




In Class

After a cancellation of the 2020 Newport to Bermuda Race due to COVID, we were prepared and excited for the ‘22 event on the Swan 601 “Stark Raving Mad VII”. We’ve done this race four times before – twice on the J/65 “Brand New Day” and twice on the Swan 601 “Stark Raving Mad VII”. We’ve been spoiled on our results – a 2nd, 3rd and most recently a 1st in Class and 1st Overall for the Onion Patch Series. This time would be very different – settling for an 11th. The race started out on Friday, June 17th on an ominous note – with a cold front and severe thunderstorms pushing over the starting area in Newport, RI at exactly the scheduled time of our start. All the weather forecasters had this front arriving much later - the front had picked up speed and strength. The Race Committee postponed the start by about 30 minutes due to lightning strikes in close proximity. However, this allowed just enough time to pass for an effective three-hour glass-off with torrential downpours following our start. Later that first evening, the winds picked up significantly – 20 to 30 knots out of the SSW leading to a close reach on the SE course 635 mile to Bermuda. The resulting sea state was very confused with swells and waves from three different directions - especially in the Gulfstream. The gray swirl in the middle of the accompanying photo shows the Gulfstream. One boat, “Morgan of Marietta”, has its captain fall overboard while in the Gulfstream, and by the time their crew rescued him, he was dead. That was sobering. On “SRM” in a matter of 12 hours we blew up three kites – first our Code 0, followed by our A4 – with an accompanying photo of our attempted repair. When winds lessened slightly, we set our A2 and blew it up within 60 minutes – largely due to the sea state. This left us with only one downwind sail – an A1, and one reaching sail for the remaining 400 miles to Bermuda which proved to then become a medium air run – less than optimal with our sail inventory – much like playing 18 holes of golf with only one club. This event will prove to be a sailmaker’s dream as many other boats below up various kites. Still there were some highlights – frequently hitting speeds of over 20 knots, with a driver challenge for the top-speed. In the worse conditions, we limited each driver to 30 minutes, so we had fresh hands and eyes on the wheel. Anticipating the cold-front, we also changed from our usual watch schedule for this event – implementing four teams of three crew members each on watch and off watch for four hours each this time. And though conditions were challenging, they were not as bad as the ’12 Bermuda Race which saw a tropical storm form off of Bermuda and run its way across the race course – thankfully almost perpendicular to the course, so relatively short lived though bringing wind gusts up to 50 knots - with resulting storms sails for a few hours. We finished the race safely on Monday evening at St. David’s Lighthouse off the western end of Bermuda – with the crew all well