Safety Training Requirements Increase for 2020 Race

August 2, 2018

CCA Safety at Sea Course handheld flare
Newport Bermuda Race competitors will see upgraded and simplified safety requirements in 2020 and will have additional options to receive hands-on training. By Mark Lenci Major East Coast races are taking steps to increase safety-at-sea crew training, and the Newport Bermuda Race is no exception. With this article, Bermuda Race organizers are giving early notice of the new requirements. The net effect of the changes for most crews who sailed in the 2018 Race is that in 2020 they’ll need one more crew with certification of hands-on safety-at-sea training.
Sunflower crew learns about firefighting
An example of hands-on safety training, crews practice shipboard firefighting, which emphasizes teamwork as well as technique.
As organizers, we know this will have an impact on crews preparing for the race, and we are working to minimize the challenges in meeting the additional requirements as follows:
  1. We are offering many more Safety-at-Sea courses than in the past, to give racers more scheduling flexibility;
  2. We are incorporating an online portion to reduce the course from 2 days to 1 day in person (again to make it easier and cheaper for racers to attend);
  3. We have simplified the requirement so there is only one type of course that meets the requirements; and
  4. We have made it easier to figure out how many people and which positions need to complete the training.
To provide some perspective, we’ve listed below the major races that are strengthening the Safety at Sea training required for their races by specifying that crew members complete training that includes a “hands-on” component (the second day of a two-day course). The table below shows the requirements for recent and upcoming major East Coast races.
Safety at Sea crew training required by major East Coast races
2018 Newport to Bermuda30% of crew including skipper and one of: navigator or watch captains - 1 or 2-day SaS course, including minimum of two with 2-day course
2019 Marion to Bermuda30% of crew including 2 of: skipper, navigator, or watch captains - 2-day SaS course (website not yet updated to reflect this change)
2019 Marblehead to Halifax30% of crew including skipper - 2-day SaS course
2019 Transatlantic50% of crew including skipper - 2-day SaS course
2020 Newport to Bermuda30% of crew including the skipper - 2-day SaS course
Two key changes in Safety at Sea training for 2020 Newport Bermuda: The two essential changes for the 2020 race are as follows:
  1. All Safety at Sea Seminar (SaS) attendance must be a course that complies with World Sailing’s Offshore Personal Survival Course Guidelines. These courses must include hands-on training. The certificate may be obtained by completing a classroom (first day) portion in person or online, AND also attending a hands-on (second day) portion in person. A one-day classroom-only course by itself without hands-on training no longer meets the requirements for Safety at Sea seminar attendance. An online course without hands-on training also does not meet the requirements.
  2. 30% of the crew including the Captain/Person in Charge (PIC and the RPIC for multihulls) must have attained a Safety at Sea training certificate meeting the above criteria. The requirement for the navigator or watch captain to attend the training has been removed.
For most crews, the rule change will require that one more person have SaS training for 2020 compared to the 2018 race (see table at bottom of article). Additionally, all SaS training to meet the race safety rules must include hands-on training. A classroom-only course will no longer meet the requirement. There are two factors worth noting that provide flexibility for race crews: (1) US Sailing now offers an online course that meets the requirements for the first day of the two-day SaS course. This gives crewmembers more flexibility in schedule. It also reduces the time and cost of attending the course in person from two days (and associated food & lodging costs) to one day. (2) Dropping the requirement for the navigator or watch captain to have SaS training gives the crew more flexibility in which crew members attend the SaS training. The race committee recognizes that the organizations that conduct SaS training must have the capacity to train the required number of sailors. The Cruising Club of America is changing their SaS program and will now offer a course in the fall, winter, and spring every year in addition to the traditional multi-day event held in the spring before the Newport Bermuda Race. The next three CCA Safety at Sea courses are scheduled Sunday, October 7, 2018; Saturday, January 12, 2019, and Saturday, March 16, 2019. The classes will be held at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. You can find detailed information and register at Here’s a full list of organizations that offer SaS training on the US East Coast:
US East Coast Safety at Sea course offerings
Host OrganizationDescription
Major events (100 or more students and multiple courses)
Cruising Club of AmericaCourses fall, winter, and spring every year. Additionally, a multi-day event every two years before the Newport Bermuda Race.
Marion Bermuda RaceEvery two years before the Marion Bermuda Race. 1-day and 2-day courses with and without certification. Also offers several other related courses on specific topics.
Storm Trysail Club & FoundationEvery year in May. 1-day and 2-day courses with and without certification. Offerings on-water training.
US Naval AcademyEvery year in March. 1-day and 2-day course with racer track that offers certification and cruiser track that does not include certification.
2020 Newport Bermuda Race Safety at Sea Attendance requirements
Number of crew membersSafety at Sea Seminar attendance requirementTotal number of crew members that must hold a World Sailing Approved Offshore Personal Safety Course Certificate
2no fewer than two crew members2
330% X 3 = .9, round up to 1; including Captain/PIC; no fewer than two crew members2
430% X 4 = 1.2, round up to 2; including Captain/PIC2
530% X 5 = 1.5, round up to 2; including Captain/PIC2
630% X 6 = 1.8, round up to 2; including Captain/PIC2
730% X 7 = 2.1, round up to 3; including Captain/PIC3
830% X 8 = 2.4, round up to 3; including Captain/PIC3
930% X 9 = 2.7, round up to 3; including Captain/PIC3
1030% X 10 = 3, including Captain/PIC3
1130% X 11 = 3.3, round up to 4; including Captain/PIC4
1230% X 12 = 3.6, round up to 4; including Captain/PIC4
1330% X 13 = 3.9, round up to 4, including Captain/PIC4
1430% X 14 = 4.2, round up to 5, including Captain/PIC4
>1430% X [number of total crew], round up to the next whole number, including Captain/PIC 
The RPIC on multihulls must also hold a World Sailing Approved Offshore Personal Safety Course Certificate.
Start your preparations early and feel free to contact me at with any questions. Mark Lenci leads the Cruising Club of America’s safety at sea education program and skippered Sunflower, his Beneteau Oceanis 523, in the 2018 Race.  

Latest Bermuda Race News

June 26, 2020

VIDEO: 2020 Online Newport Bermuda Race Prize-Giving, Hosted by Goslings Rum

Join Andrew Holmes of Goslings Rum, your host for the 2020 Newport Bermuda Race Prize-Giving Ceremony

June 24, 2020

Guest Blog: Hand Steering at Night

Putting his nav prep for the real race to good use, Sloan Burns sailed a fast and conservative course and finished second in the Double-Handed Division.

June 23, 2020

Race Blog 8: “midnightexpress” Captures Double-Handed Division Honors

The fleet of water-ballasted Jeanneau Sun Fast 3300s hung close to the larger boats, finishing in less than four days.