First thought to be insanely dangerous, the Newport Bermuda Race is now considered one the world’s most glamorous, difficult and addictive ocean races. Founded in 1906, the 635-mile biennial race is the oldest regularly scheduled ocean race, one of just two of the world’s races held almost entirely with no land in sight. Crews face hammering winds and encounter pods of whales as they sail between Newport, Rhode Island and St. David’s Lighthouse on Bermuda’s East End.

Approximately 150 to 200 boats sail the Newport-Bermuda Race each time. The average crew has 10 men or women. The race begins in Newport, Rhode Island on the third Friday in June. It takes more than two hours to get all those boats started in their six divisions and 17 classes.

The rules say, “The Newport Bermuda Race is not a race for novices.” Depending on weather, Gulf Stream currents and the boat’s size and speed, the race takes two to six days to complete. The first boat arrives at the finish line at St. David’s Lighthouse on Sunday or Monday, and the smaller boats arrive between then and Thursday.

The race is nicknamed “the thrash to the Onion Patch.” That’s because most Newport Bermuda races include high winds and big waves (a combination sailors call “a hard thrash”). It’s also because Bermuda was once an agricultural island where large onions thrived. See how the first Newport Bermuda Race began.
Since 1923, the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club have run the race. The race is managed by the volunteer Bermuda Race Organizing Committee, made up of members of the two clubs.

Story courtesy of the Bermuda Tourism Authority

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