Some content on this page pertains to the 2014 race and subject to update for the 2016 Bermuda Race. The answers given here are intended to explain, but do not change or modify any official race document.
Q: Do we (captain and crew) have to have an ISAF Sailor Classification?
Yes. Each sailor in the Newport Bermuda Race must have a Sailor Classification issued by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), and it must be valid for the duration of the race. There are two classifications: 1 (amateur sailors) and 3 (professionals). Most divisions in the race limit the number of 3’s in the crew. For more about the ISAF Sailor Classification Code and applying for a Classification, go to http://members.sailing.org/classification/, on the ISAF website. The process is quick and easy, but be sure to follow it until you receive confirmation that your Sailor Classification has been granted. ISAF Sailor Classifications are good for two years unless your status changes. See NoR, RRS and ISAF Regulation 22.
Q: How does the St. David’s/Gibbs Hill performance screen work?
A: A performance screen was introduced for the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race to help identify boats that will be assigned to sail in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division and the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division. This screen was be applied in addition to the traditional limits on numbers of, and steering by, professional (ISAF Category 3) sailors aboard in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division.
The performance screen is calculated by taking the ratio of two performance parameters: the Sail Area Displacement Ratio divided by the Displacement Length Ratio. The screen is calculated first using the upwind sail area; then the downwind area. The average of those two screens is taken as the Newport Bermuda Race performance screen. The values for sail area, displacement and length are taken from the ORR certificate. The performance screen will be printed on ORR certificates. Preliminary values can be obtained from US Sailing’s Offshore Office.
In 2014, boats with screen values above .72 were be required to race in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse division and needed to meet all other requirements of that division. Boats with screen values below .48 were be required to sail in the St. David’s Lighthouse division and needed to meet all other requirements of that division. Boats whose value is between .48 and .72 chose the division in which they would race, again meeting all other requirements of the chosen division.
See 2016 NoR, to be published in the fall of 2015 for more information.
Q: What was the reasoning behind the adoption of time penalties for the 2014 Race?
A: For many years, the BROC has imposed monetary penalties for failure to satisfy eligibility, entry, measurement and registration requirements. These monetary penalties have proven ineffective in the case of some deep-pocketed racers, and have led to an increasingly burdensome entry process and to the potential for unfair advantage for racers who may wish to make last-minute sail and other gear decisions dependent on weather forecasts. To counter this disturbing trend, BROC has replaced monetary penalties with elapsed time penalties beginning in 2014. These apply to administrative matters rather than infractions that may be associated with sailing the race course, and are designed to provide a level playing field (eligibility and measurement) or an orderly race administration (entry and registration).
The penalty for failure to meet eligibility, entry, measurement and registration requirements in a timely manner shall be the addition of 10 minutes to the yacht’s elapsed time for each 24 hour period or any part thereof for which the yacht failed to meet the relevant deadline. Such requirements include any rule having a deadline, e.g. late supplemental information form, rating data, fees, crew waivers, satisfactory completion of inspection, and registration appearances.
Any yacht that suffers a catastrophic gear failure requiring submittal of new rating data after the rating submittal deadline may petition BROC for a waiver of penalty, provided that for other than the catastrophic failure, she would have in all respects been able to comply with the dates specified in the Notice of Race. In addition, any yacht requiring crew changes subsequent to the deadline for submitting crew information for reasons of illness, injury or family emergency may petition BROC for a waiver of penalty.
“Catastrophic Gear Failure” means damage to the hull which results in a loss of its watertight integrity, loss or damage to the keel or rudder which renders either ineffective or inoperable and/or loss of or damage to mast(s), boom(s) and/or standing rigging, any of which require repair or replacement to maintain a yacht’s seaworthiness. Damage to sails or running rigging are not considered catastrophic gear failures.
Q: Finish line instructions are complex. How do I ensure a proper finish?
A: Sailing Instructions will provide that the finish is at a line bearing 111 degrees magnetic from St. David’s Lighthouse, at the intersection of the red and green sectors of the light. Sailors are cautioned to be sure that they do cross the finish line completely, sailing from North to South and passing between the finish line buoys, and traveling well beyond it (a few boat lengths, at least), and then turning to seaward after finishing. While neither buoy will necessarily be on station, the buoys’ function is to keep boats off the reef offshore from the Lighthouse, but still close enough to be observed by the Finish Line Committee. The purpose of the turn to seaward subsequent to finishing is also designed to keep boats off the reef. Failure to observe these instructions is a violation of the Sailing Instructions. Going up on the reef, or a failure to reach the finish after a 635 mile slog, is guaranteed to ruin your day.
Q: When may I begin measurement of my yacht for her ORR rating?
A: Measurement of your yacht for a new or renewal of your ratings can be difficult to schedule and complete in the spring rush that precedes a Newport Bermuda Race. As long as you are not planning modifications to your yacht over the 2015/16 winter that will impact your rating, you can schedule your measurement this fall before hauling and beat the spring rush. Keep in mind though, that once rated you’ll be constrained from modifications or required to start over. New sails, constructed over the winter, may be measured when complete by your sailmaker if he/she is so qualified.
Measurements will be required to be in the hands of the Offshore Office of US Sailing not later than 30 days prior to our June 17, 2016 start. Substantial time penalties will apply for failure to meet this deadline, and invitations to race will be withdrawn altogether if those measurements have not been received by five days prior to the start
Q: Why has the Organizing Authority required that all Cruiser Division yachts be rated with an asymmetric spinnaker?
A: US Sailing uses an assumed set of wind conditions in developing ratings, and similar yachts with spinnakers are invariably rated faster than those without. Actual wind conditions on the race course generally differ, sometimes greatly, from those used in the rating assumptions. If the Cruiser Division were to mix yachts rated with spinnakers and those without, the actual wind conditions would prove advantageous to one group or the other. Rating all yachts in the Division with spinnakers puts them on an equal footing, regardless of actual wind conditions, thereby enhancing competition within the Division and making more likely that sailing skill, rather than a good forecast of wind conditions, is the determining factor in Division results.
Q: What does “NBRSR” mean?
A: Newport Bermuda Race Safety Requirements
Q: What Race documents are required aboard?
A: The Notice of Race requires paper copies of the following documents be aboard from 0800 on the day of the start until 48 hours after finishing:
- ORR certificate
- Life Raft Servicing Certificate(s)
- 406 EPIRB Registration(s)
- Safety-at-Sea Participation List
- On Board Training Certificate
- CPR and First Aid Certificates
- ABS/CE Builder’s Letter, if required
- Stability Calculations for Movable Ballast Yachts
The numbers referenced in the Inspections Q & A Section correspond to items found in the Newport Bermuda Race Safety Requirements (.pdf) (NBRSR). These answers given are intended to explain, but do not change or modify any NBRSR .
Q: Can you summarize the safety equipment changes that are coming for the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race?
A: The new changes since 2014 are:
- Potable Water (NBRSR 2.3.4). The 2014 BROC Prescription specifying the amount of water that must be aboard at the Start has been removed.
- Enclosed Deck, Lifelines (NBRSR 2.4.4). The 2014 option to use high modulus polyethylene (HMPE) line for lifelines has been removed. Lifelines must be uncoated stainless steel wire.
- Batteries (2014 NBRSR 2.7.4). The 2014 BROC Prescription requiring sealed batteries or vented battery boxes has been removed.
- Installed VHF Radio and Antenna (NBRSR 3.8.1). All permanently installed VHF radios shall have DSC capability, have an antenna of at least 15” (381m) in length, be connected to or have an internal GPS, and have the assigned MMSI number (unique to the yacht) programmed into the VHF.
- Handheld VHF Radio (NBRSR 3.8.2). A yacht shall have a portable VHF radio with DSC/GPS capability. The handheld radio shall be watertight or have a waterproof cover.
- Emergency VHF Antenna (NBRSR 3.8.3). A Yacht shall have an emergency antenna equipped with sufficient coax to reach the deck.
- AIS (NBRSR 3.9). All yachts shall have an AIS Transponder, sharing a masthead VHF antenna via a low loss AIS antenna splitter. An acceptable alternative is a dedicated AIS antenna that is a minimum of 15” (380mm), mounted with its base at least 3 meters above the water, and fed with coax that has a maximum 40% power loss.
- Supplemental Weather Radio (2014 NBRSR 3.13). The 2014 BROC Prescription requiring a shortwave receiver capable of receiving SSB weather forecast frequencies has been removed.
- Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (NBRSR 3.16.1). A yacht shall carry a 406MHz EPIRB that is properly registered to the yacht. All EPIRBS purchased after 1/1/2016 must be equipped with an internal GPS.
- Inflatable Life Raft(s) (NBRSR 3.39). A description describing valise stowage has been added – Yachts built prior to June 2001 may alternately stow the life raft in a valise not weighing over 88 lbs. securely below deck and adjacent to the companionway. The life raft(s) shall hold current certificate(s) of inspection.
- Grab Bag(s) (NBRSR 3.40). For yachts with more than one grab bag – each grab bag shall contain at least a properly registered 406 MHz EPIRB and a handheld VHF radio, either watertight or fitted with a waterproof cover. At least one VHF radio stored in a grab bag shall be DSC/GPS equipped.
- Safety At Sea Seminar Attendance (NBRSR 4.3.1). The following additional guidelines have been added – After 1/1/18 at least two members of the crew must hold an ISAF Approved Offshore Personal Survival Course Certificate.
Q: How do the NBRSR differ from the US Sailing Equipment Requirements (USSER) and the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations (OSR)?
A: The NBRSR include the applicable Newport Bermuda Race portions of the USSER plus the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee’s (BROC) changes and additions, in a single document.
NBRSR 1.5 Heavy Items
Q: What is a ‘Heavy Item’?
A: Heavy items are any large objects not permanently installed in the boat that might cause injury or damage in rough weather or during a knockdown or capsize.
Q: What is meant by ‘secured’?
A: Heavy items must be held in place without significant movement if/when the boat is inverted/capsized.
Q: What about floorboards?
A: Floorboards must remain in place by latches, lines or Industrial Velcro if the boat is inverted.
220.127.116.11 Cockpit Volume
Q: Who should calculate cockpit volume?
A: Cockpit volume should be calculated by the owner or his representative prior to the boat’s inspection. The record of the calculation should available for the inspector to check.
Q: Does the ‘fitted bucket’ count as one of the two stout buckets required by NBRSR 3.27 ?
A: YES, if it has the required capacity and a lanyard attached.
Q: Are swing stoves fired by canned fuel allowed?
A: YES, as long replacement fuel is stowed in a vented stowage outside of any living area.
Q: How will ‘taut’ be measured?
A: By checking the distance to the deck of both upper and lower lifelines before and after hanging two six packs of 12 oz drinks on the lifelines at the midpoint between two stanchions. The difference must be less than 2 inches.
Q: Can I have “wet” batteries aboard?
A: YES. if they are installed in such a way that electrolyte cannot escape in the event of inversion.
Q: Are crotch straps required for PFDs and harnesses?
A: YES. The utility of these features has been amply demonstrated in person overboard situations. US Coast Guard approval of inflatable PFDs is not negated as long as crotch or thigh straps are not sewn or otherwise attached directly to the PFD, but are instead attached to an integral safety harness. Existing PFDs with integral harnesses may be fitted with add-on leg strap kits available in the marketplace.
Q: Do both the traditional life jackets and inflatable PFD/Harness combos need crotch/thigh straps?
A: YES, if they are to be used to satisfy Race requirements. NBRSR 3.1.1 requires USCG approved Type I life jackets used in the race to be equipped with crotch or leg straps. Some boats carry two sets of life jackets, one that complies with the racing requirements, the other to satisfy USCG boarding requirements which are simply to have a inherently buoyant PFD for each person aboard. Those life jackets carried only to meet USCG requirements are not addressed in the NBRSR and they do not need crotch/thigh straps.
Q. Where do we find “add-on leg strap kits” for inflatable lifejackets?
A. A list of available Leg/Crotch/Thigh Straps is available for download here. (.pdf)
3.1.4 Safety Harness
Q: Is a knife considered a ‘quick disconnect’ at the chest end of a tether?
3.2.3 Lifejacket and Harness Use
Q: Do we have to wear lifejackets at the Start and Finish of the Race?
A: Not unless you are reefed, but it is recommended. Lifejackets and Safety Harnesses must be worn on deck between sunset and sunrise, at any time the mainsail is reefed, or when otherwise required by the skipper.
3.3.1 Navigation Lights
Q. What are U.S. Coast Guard requirements for Navigation lights?
A. The table below contains the minimum ranges at which navigation lights must be visible for vessels of varying size:
|Vessel Size||Masthead Light||Sidelights||Stern Light|
|Under 12m (39.4’)||2 nm||1 nm||2 nm|
|12m – 20m (39.4’-65.6’)||3 nm||2 nm||2 nm|
|20m and over (65.6’+)||5 nm||2 nm||2 nm|
It is important to remember that these intensity requirements pertain to both NBRSR 3.3.1 Navigation Lights and NBRSR 3.3.2 Spare Navigation Lights.
3.3.2 Spare Navigation Lights
Q. What are U.S. Coast Guard Requirements for Spare Navigation lights?
A. The minimum ranges for Spare Navigation lights are the same as for permanent navigation lights (see NBRSR 3.3.1)
3.4 Fire Extinguishers
Q. What are U.S. Coast Guard Requirements for fire extinguisher(s)?
A. U.S. Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers must be provided with mounting brackets and should be mounted in readily accessible locations. Fire extinguishers should be weighed annually and checked regularly for pressure and signs of physical damage.
|Vessel Size||No Fixed System||With Fixed System|
|Under 40 Feet||Two B-I or One B-II||One B-I|
|40 Feet and Over||Three B-I or One B-I & B-II||Two B-I or One B-II|
Q: What are U.S. Coast Guard Requirements for sound making devices?
|Vessel Size||Sound Making Device|
|Under 12m (39.4 ft||Some means of making an efficient sound signal|
|12-20 m (39.4-65.6 ft)||Whistle or Horn (audible 1/2 mile)|
|Over 20 m (65.6 ft)||Whistle or Horn and a Bell|
An air operated handheld horn will satisfy the requirement for vessels under 20m (65.6 ft).
The requirement for a bell can be satisfied with equipment making a sound similar to a bell so long as it may at all times be manually sounded.
Q: Do I need an AIS transponder?
A: Yes. AIS Transponders are required. The AIS may use the yacht’s VHF antenna if a low-loss AIS antenna splitter is used.”
Q. Will VHF voice and DSC transmissions interfere with the reception of AIS Locator Beacon information if a low-loss splitter is used on the mast head antenna?
A. YES. Yachts with splitters should realize that they will not receive AIS, including Locator Beacon information while the VHF radio sharing the splitter is transmitting. While searching for an AIS Locator Beacon VHF voice transmissions should be minimized or made on another radio or handheld not attached to the splitter.
3.11.3 Satellite Phone
Q: What is required as a “mounted external antenna”.
A: The satellite phone’s antenna must remain mounted above decks with a clear view of the sky for the duration of the Race with an unobstructed cable connecting it to the phone below decks
3.15 Man Overboard
Q: Is an MOB Button required at each helm?
A: NO. The requirement is for a yacht to electronically record the position of a man overboard within ten seconds. This requirement may be met by installing an MOB button where it can easily be reached from any position on deck and connecting it to a remote, functioning GPS. Alternatively, a hand-held GPS with a MOB function may be used if either hard-wired to the yacht’s power or powered by batteries that will be charged as required to maintain full-time functionality.
3.23 Ground Tackle
Q: Do anchors need to be assembled for immediate deployment?
A: NO. All gear must be intact and stowed ready for immediate assembly.
3.25 First Aid Gear
Q: What First Aid Book and List of should we use?
A: Refer to the CCA Fleet Surgeon’s Memorandum for Offshore Passages (.pdf)
3.24 .2 Flashlights
Q: Do I need a flashlight for every person on board?
A: YES. NBRSR 3.24.2 requires a watertight flashlight for each crewmember with spare batteries.
3.28 Safety Gear and Through Hull Diagram
Q: What items must be on this diagram?
A: The location of essential safety equipment and tools plus diagrams showing every hull penetration below the waterline. Essential equipment includes but is not limited to EPIRB(s), Abandon Ship Grab Bag, Fire Extinguishers, spare Lifejackets, Flares, First Aid Kit & Book, Emergency Tiller, Anchor & Rode, Main Batteries, Spotlight, Horn & Bell, stove fuel cutoff, manual bilge pumps, buckets, engine fuel cutoff, battery switches and Lifesling Lifting tackle
3.29 Emergency Tiller
Q. Does a yacht with two helms need to have an emergency tiller?
A. YES. An emergency tiller is required on all yachts. Any waiver requests to this requirement must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org and approved before Newport Check-In.
3.33.2 – 3.33.4
Q: Are storm sails required to be made from high-visibility colors ?
A: Yes, but only if made in 2014. US Sailing requires that all storm sails built after January 1, 2014 must be made of highly-visible colored material. All storm sails made prior to January 1, 2014 are grandfathered. US Sailing recommends that grandfathered storm jibs have highly-visible colored material or patches covering 50% of the area up to a maximum diameter of 3 meters
3.33.2 Storm Trysail
Q: Does the storm trysail have to be attached to the mast?
A: NO. The storm trysail can be attached to a taut vertical stay positioned close to the mast if direct attachment is not possible. Crews must be prepared to demonstrate how the mainsail will be lowered & secured and the storm trysail hoisted on all boats.
3.33.3 Heavy Weather Jib
Q: Does the heavy-weather jib require an alternative means of attachment to the headstay?
A: No. NBRSR 3.33.3 does not require the heavy-weather jib to have an alternative means of attachment. (Any OSR rule to the contrary referenced by the ORR is superseded by the NBRSR under NoR 2.5 and 2.8 due to the conflict.) Note, however, that storm jibs must be equipped with an alternate means of attachment under NBRSR 3.33.4.
3.37 Emergency Drinking Water
Q: How many gallons of emergency water must I carry per person?
A: NBRSR 3.37 requires 1 gallon per crewmember shall be aboard after finishing, stored in sealed containers.
3.39 Inflatable Life Rafts
Q: Must my valise-packed life raft be inspected within one year of the start?
A: NO. NBRSR 3.39 requires that all rafts must be SOLAS, ISAF, ISO 9650 or ORC approved and that they hold a current certificate of servicing. While valise packed rafts are acceptable for the race, their storage and handling can require particular care. All rafts must be stowed in such a way that they are capable of being launched within 15 seconds. In yachts with an age or series date after June 2001 valise packed rafts must be stowed in a purpose-built compartment topside, not below decks. BROC reminds persons in charge of their responsibilities under NBRSR 1.2 and notes that there have been reports that the integrity of valise-packed life rafts can be compromised by mishandling, poor storage, and other factors, and that such conditions may indicate a need for servicing more frequently than is recommended by manufacturers.
4.1 Steering in an Emergency
Q. What are some of the methods used to steer with the rudder disabled?
A. Two articles and a video are are recommended reading on this subject:
“Three Emergency – Steering Solutions”(.pdf) by Evans Starzinger.
“Steering Without a Rudder”(.pdf) by Mike Keyworth.
“Drogue Steering” (YouTube)
Q. How should Steering in an Emergency be explained/demonstrated?
A. Photos taken during the required practice plus an explanation by a crew member that participated should be sufficient. Additionally, equipment required for the method(s) chosen in practice of steering the yacht with the rudder disabled should be laid out for examination during the yacht’s inspection.
5.2 Safety at Sea Seminar Attendance
Q. Do ISAF Certificates satisfy the SAS Seminar attendance requirements?
A. YES. Certificates issued at an ISAF Approved course must carry the statement “ISAF Approved Offshore Personal Survival Course” and may carry the ISAF logo (see ISAF OSR App G, para 7.4) Valid ISAF Certificates are less than 5 years old. If your attendance is not in the US Sailing Data Base at http://offshore.ussailing.org/SAS/Seminars/SAS_Attendees.htm a copy of your certificate(s) are required by the NoR.) to be aboard the yacht you race in from 0800 of the day of the start until 48 hours after finishing.
Q. Does US Sailing Coastal Safety At Sea Seminar attendance satisfy the Newport Bermuda Race SAS Seminar attendance requirements?
A. NO. US Sailing Coastal SAS Seminars support coastal and nearshore racers and cruisers. They do not cover all offshore safety topics that the one day and two day seminars include. The only US SAS Seminars that are accepted as satisfying the 2016 race requirements are those listed on the US Sailing Data Base as “Safety At Sea Attendance” and “ISAF Attendance”. See http://offshore.ussailing.org/SAS/Seminars/SAS_Attendees.htm
Q. I can’t find my certificate. Are actual copies of Safety at Sea Seminar attendance required to be aboard ?
A. If you cannot find your certificate you must verify the year of attendance at a US Sailing Sanctioned one or two day Safety at Sea Seminar by going to the US Sailing Data Base at http://offshore.ussailing.org/SAS/Seminars/SAS_Attendees.htm and recording the date you attended either “Safety at Sea” or “ISAF” on theSafety at Sea Participation List which is part of the NoR.) Required On Board Documentation. Attendance at “Coastal” is not acceptable. Proof of equivalent training should be submitted to email@example.com for approval.
Q. What is a DSC Distress Call?
A. A DSC Distress Call is an electronic MAYDAY activated by pressing the Red Distress Button on a DSC configured Radio. Pressing the Red Distress Button sets off an alarm on every boat that has a DSC configured radio that can only be turned off manually on each boat by silencing the alarm or by acknowledging the Distress Call with a return transmission.
Q. Who should acknowledge a DSC Distress Call at sea, outside of USCG reception range and what is so unique about an Acknowledgement Call?
A. Any vessel in receipt of a DSC Distress Call has an obligation to render aid. Acknowledging a DSC Distress Call is a form of aid, but care should be given not to acknowledge the call too quickly, thereby silencing the alarm on all other receiving stations. Best practice is to silence your alarm without acknowledging the call, and then monitor the situation to determine the need to formally acknowledge the distress call.
Q. Can anyone give an acknowledgement?
A. YES, by following the instructions displayed or their DSC Radio
Q. If they do, what responsibility are they assuming?
A. That depends on the specific facts of the situation; see additional DSC information sheet. (.pdf)
Q. Should others be told not to acknowledge a Distress Call?
A. NO. All masters have a duty to render aid if they and their vessel can do so safely; see additional DSC information sheet. (.pdf)
5.6 CPR and First Aid
(NoR requires CPR and First Aid Certificates to be kept aboard)
Q: What First Aid and CPR courses fill the requirements of the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race?
A: The following courses are accepted in the U.S. as meeting the first aid training requirements for Offshore races: American Heart Association: Heartsaver FACTS – includes Heartsaver first aid course and AED (Automated External Defibrillator ) training. Certification for 2 years. www.americanheart.org American Red Cross: First Aid, Standard First Aid (taught with Adult CPR), and First Aid Basics (when taught alone as a community course). Certification for 3 years. www.redcross.org American Safety and Health Institute: Basic First Aid. Certification for “up to” 3 years. www.hsi.com/ashi/programs National Safety Council: First Aid or Standard First Aid (when taught with CPR). Certification for 3 years www.nsc.org
Q: What about ‘wilderness first aid courses’ ? Do they meet the requirements?
A: Waivers to accept in date certifications, within 3 years, from other first aid courses must be submitted for approval to firstname.lastname@example.org prior to Newport Check-In.
Q: Are health professionals required to have First Aid and CPR certificates?
A: Licensed and practicing health professionals may submit a brief resume with a waiver request to accept their credentials instead of a first aid certificate to email@example.com .
NO waivers will be granted for CPR certificates.