Honoring the Past: New Class of Sailors Announced for the Roll of Honour

May 23, 2024

By Kate Somers

The Bermuda Race Roll of Honour recognizes and celebrates extraordinary achievement in or concerning the Newport Bermuda Race and its predecessor races. Inaugurated in 2006 on the 100th anniversary of the first race, 17 individuals have now been selected to join the Bermuda Race Roll of Honour. 

The idea for the Roll of Honour was formalized at a meeting at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club on June 22, 2006 by Kirk Cooper, John Rousmaniere, Kaighn Smith, Owen Smith, and de Forest Trimingham.

The current selection committee of: Gary Jobson, Bill Barton, Larry Glenn, Stephen Kempe, Henry Morgan, John Osmond and John Winder announce the Class of 2024 Bermuda Race Roll of Honour. The following members will be formally recognized at the CCA Fall Meeting in Annapolis. 

W. Frank Bohlen

Frank has competed in 15 races to Bermuda and has spent over 25 years as a member of the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee.  In every Race year, he has provided to competitors expert analysis on weather and the Gulf Stream.  In some years this has included advising on difficult decisions of whether to delay the start of the Race.  He has worked tirelessly in his support of Gulf Stream and weather tactical education seminars for all competitors. Frank has run seminars for Marion to Bermuda Race competitors as well.  In addition to helping sailors sail swiftly, he is a strong advocate and mentor on offshore safety. 

Lea de Hass

Lea was the skipper of the first all-women crewed boat to win its class and the Cruising Division, along with the Finisterre Trophy in the 2006 Centennial Race.  She was the skipper of a Frers 49, Synergy, that she completely rebuilt after it was severely damaged and sank during a storm in St. Martin.  She entered the Race as “Team WAVE” in support of “Women Against Violence Everywhere.”  “Team WAVE” had a mission of leadership training for girls and young women through the sport of sailing.

M. William Langan

Bill Langan, along with Jim Teeters, was one of the principal creators of the Offshore Racing Rule that was adopted for the Newport Bermuda Race in 2006. The comprehensive project had a long-term goal of creating a handicap rule for offshore yachts that was fair for boats of all sizes and capabilities. He was an innovative naval architect who produced many yachts that competed in the Bermuda Race and was a frequent competitor in the race.

James McClenahan Mertz 

Jim Mertz has the distinction of participating in a record 30 Newport Bermuda Races and was known as the “Iron Man of the Bermuda Race.”  He sailed his last Bermuda Race at the age of 92.  He was a graduate of Yale University and served in the U.S. Navy from 1939 until 1947 during World War II, including as Commanding Officer of the Destroyer Escort USS Sturdevant.  He joined The Cruising Club of America soon after the end of the war.  Jim served as President of the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound and Commodore of American Yacht Club.  He also was a member of the New York Yacht Club and was a long time Chairman of the Race Committee, and was a member of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Storm Trysail Club and Ft. Worth Boat Club.  

John Pierce Rousmaniere

In 2006 John Rousmaniere published A Berth to Bermuda 100 Years of the World’s Classic Ocean Race. He has been an advocate for offshore safety and lecturer for many Safety-at-Sea Seminars.  John is the author of one of the bestselling and important books, Fastnet, Force 10 about the infamous race in which he competed aboard the 48-foot sloop, Toscana.  He also raced in the 1972 Bermuda Race aboard Dyna when gale force winds pounded the 178-boat fleet.  John Rousmaniere has written at least 34 books on sailing including the bestselling Annapolis Book of Seamanship.  He has written countless articles for The Cruising Club of America.

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