Small Boats Rule in 51st Thrash to the Onion Patch

Except in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division, the smaller boats scored best throughout the fleet. None more so than in the Double-Handed Division, won by a 36-foot Morris Justine named Yankee Girl. By Chris Museler.

They call it the rubber band. As in the painfully slow 2014 Newport Bermuda Race, in 2018 the faster boats would stretch out to a lead, then park in a no-wind zone. Smaller boats would ride the old wind right up behind, and the race would practically re-start when the new breeze came in.

The small boats notoriously benefit in a race like this, if they manage the lulls well. And the results show a handful of boats 32 to 38 feet taking home big prizes this year.

Morris Justine 36 Yankee Girl Zachary Lee Double-Handed Division winner

The Morris Justine 36 Yankee Girl, sailed by owner Zachary Lee and his crew Leif Counter, went on from the start in Newport to take top honors in the Double-Handed Division. Daniel Forster/PPL photo

“The correction works in favor of the slower boats when it’s light,” said Zachary Lee, who won the Double-Handed Class 2 in his Morris Justine 36 Yankee Girl. He achieved the same success in the 2016 race, his first time racing to Bermuda.

“We pushed her constantly in the dead wind,” said teammate Leif Counter. “We’d hang out over the side and even blow into the spinnaker.”

Leif Counter and Zachary Lee

Leif Counter (left) and Zachary Lee celebrate Yankee Girl’s Class 2 and Double-Handed victory.

Like many boats in this light-air race, Lee improvised sail plans to keep the boat moving, flying a smaller, heavy-air asymmetrical spinnaker while close reaching.

Yankee Girl is one of two Justine class boats in the fleet, along with Corvus. With the Morris 32.5 Selkie, the three were also a team competing for the H. Irving Pratt 3-Boat Team Prize. Hats were made for “Team Paine” as a nod to naval architect Chuck Paine, who designed all three for Morris Yachts.

Selkie, second in Class 11, had the same experience on the water as her sisterships. “We’d pull up and they’d take off again and again,” said Selkie’s owner Chip Bradish.

Team Paine hat

Three Morris yachts make up “Team Paine” in the competition for the Irving Pratt 3-Boat Team Prize. Newport Bermuda Race 2018. Chris Museler photo

Lee believes there are some benefits to the elegant lines of these diminutive boats. “When I was looking for a simpler boat, I was swayed by the classic lines of Chuck Paine,” he said. “They do surprisingly well in light air.”

The other benefit, he said, is that it impresses his fiancée, who was his girlfriend during his last Bermuda Race. “She’s flying in today. She’s impressed with the awards at Government House.”




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