A year before the June 20, 2014 start of the 49th Newport Bermuda Race, the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee has announced initiatives to make the race easier to enter and more appealing to prospective entrants.
Simplified Entry Requirements: Responding to feedback from sailors in previous races, the Newport Bermuda race is simplifying its inspection process. Documents are being revised to provide more clarity and reduce duplication. Pre-race submission of many documents will no longer be required. As in years past, the race will require a courtesy pre-race inspection of each boat, and post-race inspections will be conducted of a significant portion of the fleet, including boats with high standings. Other initiatives include a training program for inspectors to ensure consistency in their efforts, and US Sailing’s Safety at Sea Committee’s ongoing revision of the Offshore Special Regulations. Questions or suggestions about these efforts should be directed to Newport Bermuda Race Chief Inspector John Winder at Inspections@BermudaRace.com.
Division Assignments: To assure that similar boats sail for the same trophies, the race has introduced a performance screen to identify modern lightweight, high-performance boats for assignment to the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division, and more traditional boats for assignment to the St. David’s Lighthouse Division, historically the home division for racer-cruisers.
Had the performance screen been applied in 2012, five boats that sailed in the St. David’s Division would have been assigned to Gibbs Hill, five boats that sailed in Gibbs Hill would have sailed in St. David’s, and three boats were in the middle.
The performance screen is calculated by dividing the boat’s Sail Area/Displacement Ratio by her Displacement/Length Ratio, using data from the ORR certificate. Boats with high screens will be assigned to the Gibbs Hill Division, those with low ones will be in the St. David’s Division, and boats with screens in the middle may choose which division to enter, with the proviso that those choosing St. David’s abide by its restrictions on professionals. Each boat’s performance screen will be printed on her 2014 ORR certificate. A more thorough explanation and performance screens for the 2012 fleet are available online.
New Regional Prizes: For the first time in the race’s long history, awards will be presented to the top boats on corrected time hailing from five regions of North America: Canada, the Great Lakes, the Pacific Coast, the Deep South, and the Chesapeake. The race regularly has a healthy turnout from these areas. One-third of the entrants in the 2012 Newport Bermuda Race were from outside New York, New Jersey, and New England. The race has long awarded prizes to top finishers from outside the U.S.
Safety Seminar: The highly respected Newport Bermuda Race Safety-at-Sea Seminar will be held at Newport on March 15-16, 2014, and moderated by Ralph Naranjo. Sailors who have completed two Safety-at-Sea seminars in the past ten years may combine the Saturday morning session with hands-on practical training on Saturday afternoon to qualify for the ISAF certificate. Sunday’s programs will include a Race Preparation Seminar, plus a Medical Seminar specifically designed for “ship’s docs” (medical officers), with a focus on practical scenarios.
Annapolis-Newport Race Partnership: A trophy will be awarded in 2014 for best combined finishes in the Annapolis-Newport and Newport Bermuda races. The Newport Bermuda Race now has joint trophies with all three odd-year East Coast races, Marion-Bermuda, Marblehead-Halifax, and Annapolis-Newport.