From Allegra to ZigZag – Get to know some of the Newport Bermuda Race’s 2024 participants

April 29, 2024

By Kate Wilson

Photo: Daniel Forster

The 170 yachts are subdivided into divisions and classes. Grouped by certain rules and ratings to put the sailors on an even playing field to vie for over 100 trophies awarded upon conclusion of the race in Bermuda. 

The largest and fastest is the 84-foot multihull from Switzerland, Allegra, a luxury performance cruising catamaran skippered by Rob Grimm and designed by Nigel Irens. This team has won the Rolex Fastnet Race in England back-to-back in recent years. While unlikely to break the record set by the Mod 70 Argo in 2022, Allegra's recent completion of the Caribbean 600 in 56 hours positions her as a strong contender to be the first boat to reach Bermuda.

Among the faster monohull entries, Pyewacket 70 stands out as a favorite. Skippered by Roy P. Disney,  this turbocharged Volvo 70, formerly known as Telefonica and Black Jack, boasts a record of achievements including winning the 2021 Transpac's Barn Door Trophy. The Disney family has always liked the Bermuda Race. Disney’s father (Roy E.) set a course record of just under 54 hours with a previous Pyewacket. The new 70 is much faster, but Pyewacket program manager Robbie Haines says it would take perfect conditions to beat the current monohull mark of less than 35 hours, held by the 100-foot Comanche

Pyewacket competes in the Gibbs Hill Division, which puts no limits on the number of professional crew members.  The St. David’s Lighthouse Division, with over 100 boats competing, anticipates fierce competition for the iconic St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy, with both traditional and modern designs vying for the top position. This division has a limit on the number of professional sailors and the roles they can fill. 

Two veteran campaigners returning in 2024 to watch are Carina and Hound, both designed in the late '60s and early '70s. Carina, an aluminum-built McCurdy & Rhodes 48, holds the title of the most successful Bermuda racer in the past 50 years since her launch, and Hound just recently won the RORC Caribbean 600. Meanwhile, Andrew Clark’s J/122 Zig Zag from Greenwich, Connecticut, aims to build on their success of 2nd overall in 2022, emphasizing teamwork and preparation as key strengths.

The Finisterre Division limits the number of sails and professional crew offers an alternative for those not seeking to compete against the elite. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking these 30 boats are still competitive. Boats in this division focus on sailing fast and finishing well as, echoing the ethos of Carleton Mitchell's Finisterre, which won three consecutive Bermuda Races in the late '50s.

A select group of a dozen skippers joins the Double-Handed Division, sailing a mix of cruiser/racers and purpose-designed boats. Matt Breuer, aboard his Sabre 42 CB Dauntless, highlights the practicality and self-sufficiency of shorthanded racing, emphasizing the rewarding aspects of sailing with a small crew. Some boats will also choose to return from Bermuda in a shorthanded race, which is a safe and fun way to return boats to the States.

Among the 170 teams, there are countless stories of sailing traditions and overcoming adversity. We have started to highlight as many as we can through our social media, race news, and official race program.

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