The Yawl Black Watch: A Classic Sensation
By Chris Museler
The phrase “reach through life” conjures up visions of an effortless flow from one great fortuitous experience to the next. That certainly has the case for the first half of the Bermuda Race fleet this year. How can you get better than reaching through life on one of the smoothest rides around? That’s the classic Sparkman and Stephens 68-foot yawl Black Watch, launched in 1938 and racing to Bermuda again this year.
Kyle Dufur in Black Watch's galley
“The sensation of reaching was wonderful,” said Kyle Dufur, the professional captain aboard Black Watch, which stands first in Class 6 (St. David’s Lighthouse Division) in the provisional results. “Being on deck with five sails flying is amazing. Then you go down below and it feels like a hotel. You don't feel a thing.”
When the crew climbs down from the cockpit, they step onto a teak sole that comfortably grips their feet. Then they sit down and are served a hot meal, surrounded by bright varnished cabinetry. They hear little from the race above save the muffled whooshing of the sea past the hull. Dufur says the boat never pounds and rolls only during sail changes when the headsail is down. Much of the way to Bermuda she had five sails set: spinnaker, genoa staysail, mainsail, mizzen staysail, and mizzen.
Main saloon on Black Watch
Would he race to Bermuda in any other boat? “Of course, so long as it’s as well organized as Black Watch. Anything here that you can borrow and apply to your boat is a great thing.”