A Family Affair: Bonds Between Loved Ones Strengthened in the Newport Bermuda Race

June 26, 2024

By Mark LeBeau

The Cullen family crosses the finish line with their crew aboard WaveWalker. / Photo: Daniel Forster

For many sailors, the sport is a family tradition, and the Newport Bermuda Race fully embraces that. Whether aboard a boat together for the “Trash to the Onion Patch,” or meeting their loved ones on the docks of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) after the finish, spouses, siblings, parents, and children are brought closer by the race.

The RBYC was the place to be both Monday and Tuesday nights, as family and friends gathered to welcome crews back onto land. Siren and WaveWalker were among those dropping anchor in Hamilton on Monday evening.

Siren finished with its fastest time ever, with a corrected time of two days 18 hours and 17 minutes. Sailing Siren was also a family affair. Joining Skipper Will Hubbard on the crew was his father, Bill Hubbard. “For me, it’s all about camaraderie,” he said, adding that it was a joy to sail with his crew and father. Additionally, father-daughter duo Scott and Holliss Hirsch helped their vessel reach Bermuda safely and swiftly. “For us, and our group, sharing this with family and close friends made it really special,” said Holliss Hirsch, who recently competed in the US college sailing National Championships for Bowdoin College.

Siren sets off from Newport next to Boudicca on June 21st. / Photo: Daniel Forster

Woody Cullen, skipper of WaveWalker, said that this year’s race was “fantastic.” He made the trek alongside his wife and first mate Carolyn Cullen and their three children. The Cullen family was happy to be back on land, but appreciative of the opportunity to race together.

Also finishing late Monday was Tramontana. Following its motor from the finish line to RBYC, the boat’s crew was welcomed by an ecstatic group of parents, spouses, and siblings—with plenty of Dark ‘n Stormies in hand. Relieved to see the crew arrive in Hamilton safe and sound, the group’s excitement was a testament to the Newport Bermuda Race’s ability to bring out the best in sailors and spectators alike.

John Storck III, who took part in this year’s race alongside members of his legendary family aboard Blitzen, believes there are benefits to sailing in the Bermuda Race with family. “Communication is easy. A lot of us can communicate without even saying anything. Trust is also at the highest level. Knowing each other's abilities as well as we do allows us to execute maneuvers fast,” Storck said.

In fact, the family spirit is so important to the Bermuda Race that a special award is given to families that sail together. The William L. Glenn Family Participation Prize honors the best performing family of at least four members in the race. The prize’s namesake was a “Pied Piper” of sailing who, in the course of more than 50 years, introduced many families and friends—young people especially—to the joys and camaraderie of sailing. This prize was given by his family in commemoration of his genial, enthusiastic nature in pursuit of that mission.

It often seems that everyone participating in the Bermuda Race is part of one big family, only enhancing the connections forged between loved ones who take part together.

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