No. 11 Competitor Bulletin – 2020 Newport Bermuda Race Cancelled

March 23, 2020

By Kate Wilson

Dear Sailors and Friends,

The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee (BROC) has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Newport Bermuda Race due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As representatives of our sponsoring clubs, the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, we believe in the practice of safety as a way of life offshore. Our position has always been that we can only conduct the race if conditions for competitors and local populations made it safe to do so. After continuing to seek guidance from numerous government and medical advisors, it has become evident there is no longer a timeline allowing our sailors and supporters to prepare for and participate in this offshore race safely. 

We are heeding the WHO and CDC guidance that stopping the spread of COVID-19 requires the practice of social distancing and self-quarantine immediately. As an international race organizing authority, it is our responsibility to be a part of the solution to reduce the risk of exposure. Preparing boats for an offshore race takes time, commitment, and logistics that may expose communities and families unnecessarily. Sailing offshore may result in contact with asymptomatic infected shipmates during the race and could adversely affect the Bermudian population at the conclusion of the race. 

For the last 21 months, we have been planning to run a great race, and as sailors ourselves, we feel your keen disappointment in not being able to sail the 52nd Thrash to the Onion Patch at this time. Like me, you have invested time and money in the race already, and so have our sponsors and vendors. 

Our Committee, along with the CCA and the RBYC, are working to resolve the full financial impact of the race cancellation. Here is our commitment:

  • We will work with sponsors, vendors and suppliers to balance our accounts equitably.
  • The majority of entry-fee deposit funds have been spent in preparation for the race; however, we will return all entry fees paid over and above the initial deposits.
  • Neither the CCA nor RBYC will receive any funds from BROC.

We encourage participants with bookings in Bermuda to ask that any lodging deposit be credited to visits to Bermuda at a later date. Also, please support our sponsors in the time ahead—Bermuda Tourism Authority, Goslings, Helly Hansen Newport, North Sails, Safe Harbor Marinas, Safe Harbor Newport Shipyard, McMichael Yacht Yards & Brokers, and Barton & Gray Mariners Club. It’s their continued support that will make this race possible in the future. 

As you all know, personal protective equipment (PPE) vital to health care workers is in very short supply. If you have any masks, gloves, or gear that can be donated, please contact your local hospital to find out how. We will also be updating our website both with ways to give and in response to questions that arise going forward. 

We would like to say thank you to all competitors for their support, encouragement and understanding as we have navigated this unprecedented and uncertain time. We want to recognize that some of you have proposed an alternative race that would not land a fleet of sailors in Bermuda. However, with the situation dire and the future unpredictable, we have chosen not to organize an alternative race.

Finally, I would like to thank the dozens of BROC volunteers who have worked so hard to plan and prepare for this race. I assure you that they are, along with the CCA and the RBYC, committed to presenting a spectacular Newport Bermuda Race in 2022.

Jay Gowell

Chairman, Bermuda Race Organizing Committee

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