Safety of yacht and crew is a Bermuda Race Captain’s primary responsibility. Together with the afterguard, each Captain must ensure that the yacht meets the safety standards outlined in the Notice of Race and further described by the Newport Bermuda Race Safety Requirements (NBRSR). All entered vessels must satisfactorily complete a courtesy inspection conducted by one of the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee’s inspectors before being invited to start the race. This inspection is a wonderful opportunity for Captains and crews to go through their boats with experienced racers, examining general seaworthiness and key pieces of safety equipment. It should be noted, however, that compliance with the safety requirements outlined in the Notice of Race is the Captain’s responsibility throughout the race, and while inspections are a valuable tool, a pre-race inspection should not be considered a warranty of a vessel’s seaworthiness or absolute compliance with the race requirements.
2016 Newport Bermuda Race Safety Requirements (NBRSR)
The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee’s inspection process will follow the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race Safety Requirements (NBRSR), downloadable from the Bermuda Race website’s Official Notice Board. The NBRSR is an adaptation of the US Safety Equipment Requirements (USSER) promulgated by U.S. Sailing. A “plain English” adaptation of the International Sailing Federation’s Offshore Special Regulations, the USSER is quickly becoming the standard for offshore races in the U.S.
Bermuda Race inspectors are a great resource for first time and veteran racers. As an ally and advisor, an inspector can provide guidance on complying with race requirements and purchasing the most appropriate safety gear. Captains are encouraged to contact an inspector early in the spring and remain in touch while preparing for inspection. Proper planning and preparation early in the process can avoid common noncompliances which necessitate multiple return visits by inspectors as the start draws nearer. The inspection itself should be scheduled for as soon as the boat is ready for sailing and properly outfitted for the race. A list of inspectors can be found on the Official Notice Board. The onboard inspection typically takes no more than an hour if the Captain or representative has everything ready and laid out for review by the inspector. If the yacht is poorly prepared, or not prepared, the inspector may ask to reschedule.
The inspection is an excellent time to ask questions of the inspector about the race and get useful tips on seamanship and safety practices. The inspector marks all items that passed inspection and makes notes on any discrepancies that need fixing. If the boat is not adequately prepared at the time of inspection, the inspector will need to return when the discrepancies have been resolved. The Captain must be sure all discrepancies are resolved and re-inspected by the deadline.
Volunteer inspectors are available to help entrants comply with race requirements. Every inspector is a veteran of past Bermuda Races and has undergone training by the BROC. First time racers and those seeking additional assistance preparing for the safety inspection may contact a Race Ambassador for help. In addition, certain yachts (including those that have not previously competed in the race and those requiring specific attention) may be assigned an inspector after her Application for Entry is accepted.
Penalties for Missing the Deadline
All yachts will need to have their inspections complete no later than 1700, June 3, 2016. Boats missing the deadline will be subject to penalties as outlined in the Notice of Race.
Post-race inspections may be conducted at the discretion of the BROC or race committee. A portion of the fleet, including those whose finish times make them likely to receive a trophy, is re-inspected in Bermuda after every race. In 2014, 72 of 151 finishers were inspected on arrival in Bermuda and that number continues to grow with each edition of the race. On rare occasions, an inspection in Bermuda has changed the standings of a division.
Questions about Inspections?
Any entrant interested in being put in touch with an inspector willing to assist them with preparation should contact Chief Inspector James Phyfe. Many answers to common safety and inspections questions can also be found in the Frequently Asked Questions.