January 2013 Newsletter

Greeting Sailors

As we begin preparations for the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race, we will use this Newsletter from the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee (BROC) to keep you abreast of developments.  The Newsletter will be issued as we have topics of interest, and the discussion of those issues will be brief.  Please keep in mind that this is an informal document and that to the extent any information herein differs in any respect from that in formal race documents such as the Notice of Race, the formal race documents will supersede this newsletter. Your comments, suggestions and questions about these issues may be directed to any of us listed at the end of the newsletter.  We look forward to hearing from you, and to seeing you all on the starting line for our 49th “Thrash to the Onion Patch” on Friday, June 20, 2014.

Other Offshore Races

This is a good time to remind all prospective 2014 Newport Bermuda Race entrants of the “odd-year” blue water races here in the Northeast, which provide challenges and great sailing, and which can serve to hone crew skills and build crew qualification credentials. For some, June of 2014 may seem a distant horizon, but all offshore racers and especially first-time entrants, can use the 2013 season to make sure their boat and crew are prepared for the Newport Bermuda Race before the Spring 2014 rush.

And keep in mind that three special, combined results prizes are offered; one for each of the Newport Bermuda and Annapolis to Newport races, the Newport Bermuda and Marion to Bermuda races and the Newport Bermuda and Marblehead to Halifax races.

We recommend that you consider:
Annapolis to Newport Race (start Friday, June 7, 2013) http://www.race.annapolisyc.org.
Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race (start Friday, June 14, 2013) http://www.marionbermuda.com.
Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race (start Sunday, July 7, 2013) http://www.marbleheadtohalifax.com.

Have a look at these races and see which of them might best serve to assure that your boat and crew are in fine form for our Newport Bermuda Race start on June 20, 2014.

Regional Prizes to be Awarded in 2014

Prizes will be awarded in the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race to the top boats on corrected time hailing from Chesapeake Bay, the West Coast, the Great Lakes, Canada, and the Deep South (from the Carolinas to Texas).  While trophies have long been presented to the best-placing boats from Bermuda and other countries outside the United States, this will be the first Newport Bermuda Race since its founding in 1906 to award regional prizes.

The Newport Bermuda Race has long had entries hailing from across North America and around the world.  We want to recognize the effort that so many sailors make to join the fleet. We hope the new regional prizes will encourage more crews and boats from these areas to sail in the historic “Thrash to the Onion Patch”.

Of the 167 entries in the 2012 Newport Bermuda Race, 45 entries hailed from one of these five regions; 19 from Chesapeake Bay, five from the West Coast, two from the Great Lakes, seven from Canada, and 12 from the Deep South states of Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.

These new prizes join the traditional lineup of more than 100 prizes available to competitors.


Seasickness reached near-epidemic proportions in the 2012 fleet, leaving many crews short-handed in conditions which called for full participation by all hands. One sailor had to be evacuated from a boat because he was extremely dehydrated after a long bout of seasickness. (This incident, and the lessons learned from it, will be described in an article that will soon appear on the race website; www.BermudaRace.com). Seasickness was also a significant factor in the abandonment of a boat returning from Bermuda after the race.

Good seamanship requires that all vessels be equipped with medication to combat seasickness to avoid putting lives at risk, and that at least one crew member be assigned to manage medications and monitor crew health. BROC strongly recommends that seasickness medication be trialed by each member of the crew prior to going offshore (checking for side effects) and be used prophylactically whenever venturing offshore, far from the easy reach of aid and rescue services.

AIS in 2014

AIS transponders proved their value in the 2012 race, especially in guiding boats to rendezvous at sea to render aid and in the safety they provided within the fleet and in crossing shipping channels. AIS transponders have been a requirement of other offshore, long-distance races for several years and are expected to be required in the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race.

Offshore Email Capabilities

Email, for those boats that had it, proved to be a sound back-up capability for problems with satellite phone and radio communication.  BROC strongly recommends that capability be aboard for all offshore voyages, racing and cruising.

Satellite Phones

Satellite phones were required to be aboard and turned on in the 2012 Newport Bermuda Race. There were many reports of problems in satphone communications not only between boats but with the race’s on-shore medical advisor. Many crews had trouble making connections or experienced dropped calls. Ringers could not be heard above the sound of waves and wind or because phones were turned off. BROC strongly recommends (and may require) that (1) crews be trained in the operation of satellite phones, (2) all phones be fully operational at all times, (3) each phone be equipped with activated voicemail and email capabilities so that messages may be left if the voice call is dropped, and (4) Captains require their crews to check for satphone messages as a part of normal watch routines.

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