Race Blog 4: Experienced Bermuda Racers Lead St. David’s Lighthouse Division

June 22, 2020


Several front-runners in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division have been putting on-water Bermuda Race experience to work as they sail their Dehler 46s in the 2020 Online Newport Bermuda Race. With 100 miles to go, Scott Bearse/SlideRule and Michael O’Donnell/Modonnellaw were dueling for the lead. Both were scheduled to do the IRL (in real life) race in 2020, Bearse on his own boat, also named Slide Rule, and O’Donnell on Monhegan, a J/44.

The class of Dehler 46s racing in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division had, at 1800, about 100 miles to sail to the finish line at St. David’s Lighthouse.

At 1800 Bermuda time, O’Donnell had his bow ahead on a perpendicular to the rhumbline, but was half a dozen miles to leeward of SlideRule and a mile farther from the finish according to the race computer. Working hard on his angles, no doubt, was the reason he didn’t answer our emails.

Bearse said he has put his whole team to work, and explained in an email, “Our Slide Rule team decided to do the Online Bermuda Race two weeks ago.  I’ve been calling the shots, but the team has been checking and sending me suggestions!  Some of us met last night on Zoom to chat.  This year’s team was pretty much the same team that won Class 7 in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division in 2018 [aboard Rocket Science, which Bearse navigated] plus a couple of my regular crew.”

A pre-dawn view of the RC trailer at the St. David’s Lighthouse finish line in 2018.
John Burnham photo

In fourth place, about six miles off the pace, Dan Costin/Vibex has his Dehler 46 in the groove and explained the strategy that had led him to this point:

“Getting in front is always a matter of mostly luck. That said, I tried using weather models other than GFS (Global Forecast System) to look further out than the 6-hour set period. It seemed to me that the far eastern approach looked good on GFS, but not so great on the NDFD (National Digital Forecast Database) model, which I’ve found more reliable past a day or two out. So I stuck close to the rhumb line, trying not to get stuck in any of the big wind holes.

“It seems the same strategies we used for IRL [in real life] races work well here, too. You’ll notice, in fact, that in the St. David’s Lighthouse division, the Newport-Bermuda racers are dominating over the regular SYC members. I think SlideRule, who’s currently leading, also just joined, I assume in order to lead this race 🙂

Costin, who was planning to navigate Cynthia, a Grand Soleil 46 in the on-water race, gave a shoutout to the Sailonline.org community as a whole, explaining that like Bearse/SlideRule he joined the Sailonline Yacht Club just for this race and did a couple of practice races ahead of time: “Honestly, for the great service that SYC has been doing to host us, I thought the [voluntary] $35 fee was more than deserved.”

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