Provisional Leaders Established in 52nd Newport Bermuda Race

June 21, 2022

By Sean McNeill

Triple Lindy St. David's Lighthouse finish line
The crew of the Cal 40 Illusion—Carl Buchan, Sally Honey, Stan Honey, Jonathan Livingston, and Don Jesberg—arrive in Hamilton Tuesday morning with a big corrected-time lead over its St. David's Lighthouse Division competition. Chris Burville photo

HAMILTON, Bermuda (June 21, 2022)—The Newport Bermuda Race finish committee has been on double duty since late last night.

Through the first 48 hours of finishers, from Jason Carroll’s (New York City) record-setting Argo at 23:20:09 ADT on Saturday night, just 27 boats finished the 635-nautical mile race. But since Andrew Clark’s (Greenwich, Connecticut) J/122 Zig Zag completed the course at 22:37:04 last night, more than 120 boats have crossed the finish line, which extends out from St. David’s Lighthouse on the eastern end of Bermuda. (See results page.)

Among the flock of finishers were Sally and Stan Honey (Palo Alto, Calif.) aboard the timeless Cal 40 Illusion. They were the 78th entrant in the starting fleet of 186 to cross the line, finishing at 06:21:33 ADT this morning for an elapsed time of 87h:01m:33s.

With a corrected time of 51:02:13, the Honeys and Illusion are the provisional leaders of the St. David’s Lighthouse Division, good for a nearly two-hour lead over Clark’s Zig Zag. Third place is currently held by St. David’s line honors winner, Jim Murray’s (Lake Bluff, Illinois) Pac52 Callisto, just 15 seconds astern of Zig Zag on corrected time.

The Honeys are sailing their final race aboard Illusion, and it’s shaping up to be a grand ending to a successful 34 years of racing. In commenting on their strategy, Sally Honey said that “it was one part Stan telling us where to go and the rest our crew sailing the boat fast.” The crew included 1984 Olympic Gold medalist Carl Buchan (Seattle, Wash.), fellow Cal 40 owner Don Jesberg (Belvedere, Calif.) and the redoubtable Jonathan Livingston (Richmond, Calif.).

For Clark (in interview above), second place is a surprising but welcome finish in his first Bermuda Race.

“You have it go this well this early, it’s dangerous,” said the 49-year-old Clark, who purchased the J/122 with an old college buddy before the pandemic and then stripped it down and rebuilt it. “We just kept after it. Our navigator, Gijs Gunneman-Gallo, stayed true to his plan. He absolutely wanted to be east of rhumbline, and we carried that through and kept an absolute focus on speed. We pushed as hard as we could. In the end, those seconds came through.”

The first finisher in the Double-Handed Division was among the first 28 across the finish line. Carl Kah’s (North Palm Beach, Florida) Class 40 Privateer ran just behind the head of the fleet the whole way and finished Monday afternoon at 17:45:25 with an elapsed time of 75:05:25.

The second finisher, Groupe 5 of North East Keelboat Alliance (NEKA), a Figaro Custom 2, holds the provisional lead in the Double-Handed Division. Sailed by 20-year-old Zachary Doerr (Butler, Pennsylvania), a Webb Institute undergraduate, and 53-year-old Vladimir Shablinsky (Glen Cove, New York), Groupe 5 finished with an elapsed time of 77:41:22, good for a corrected time of 64:03:34, well ahead of Jim Hammitt's Reveille, Peter Becker's Young American, and Kah's Privateer.

“It was a lot of fun as my first real offshore race,” said Doerr, who paired with Shablinsky, his NEKA Sailing coach. “A lot of it had to do with our comfort with the boat, especially on the second night when it was blowing 30 and we were going 20 knots with the A2 spinnaker up. I feel like most boats in the doublehanded class didn’t push as hard, and we just kept pushing and made a lot of miles that night. It was different than anything I’ve ever experienced before.”

In the Finisterre Division, for cruisers, among 41 starters, Dudley Johnson’s (New York City) Prevail finished first, early in the afternoon on Monday, with an elapsed time of 70:32:24. According to skipper Darris Witham (Newport, Rhode Island ; see interview above), the crew had to recover from a burst hydraulic hose on Friday before the start and later parted a spinnaker halyard, but always kept the boat moving, even under main only.

“The boat is fast off the breeze,” Witham said. “You’re just surfing down those big waves in the Gulf Stream—the nights were incredible.”

One division that would appear to be locked up is the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, where 16 of the 18 starters have finished (the remaining two have withdrawn) but post-race yacht inspections are still underway. The Division and Class 19 winner is provisionally Christopher Sheehan’s (Larchmont, New York) Pac52 Warrior Won, which has been holding the top spot since winning divisional line honors on Monday morning. (See high-speed downwind action aboard Warrior Won in the video above.)

In 2016, Sheehan won the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy with his Xp44 of the same name. Now, he is set to become the first owner to win both of the Lighthouse divisions, as well as divisional line honors.

“It’s very humbling,” said Sheehan, who last year won the Transpac Race and last February the Caribbean 600. “I’d been thinking about it before the race. I had a ton of confidence in my team and my boat that we’d have a shot at the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. There are so many wonderful records and legendary sailors in this race.”

Provisionally second in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division and first in Class 18 is Darren Walters (Boston, Massachusetts) and the Sun Fast 3300 Alchemist, which finished at 01:12:16 this morning for an elapsed time of 79:55:16 and corrected time of 45:52:28. Alchemist trails Warrior Won by more than 36 minutes, but scored a 12-minute win over the J/120 Desperado, raced by Vadim Shablinsky (Westbury, New York) in Class 18.

“The race was a brilliant surprise on many levels, both the conditions as well as the results,” said Glenn Walters, who was racing with his son Darren (Boston) as well as James Harayda (Richmond, England) and Ryan Novak-Smith (Providence, Rhode Island).

“Yesterday was just a ripping day,” the senior Walters said. “We had an A4 up all day. Some of my crew were doing record speeds over 22 knots very consistently. It was memorable because Ryan and James were gleeful for four hours as they just crushed it. We would not have won this race if not for those four hours where they had the time of their lives. They had so much fun, not pushing or exceeding limits, just enjoying themselves. That sticks in my mind.”

Glenn Walters is managing partner of Bluenose Yacht Sales, sponsor of the YB race tracker at the Bermuda Race website.

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