First held in 1906, the oldest regularly scheduled ocean race will begin Friday, June 17, in Newport, R.I., and launch a fleet of 190 sailboats down a 635-nautical-mile course to St. Georges, Bermuda. The start is a two-hour long spectacle, with the large fleet of racers surrounded by throngs of spectator boats and fans on the adjacent shorelines.

In a fresh northeasterly, with Newport landmarks Fort Adams and Inn at Castle Hill in the background, a class of 40-footers sets spinnakers and heads southeast toward Bermuda in June 2012. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL

In a fresh northeasterly, with Newport landmarks Fort Adams and Inn at Castle Hill in the background, a class of 40-footers sets spinnakers and heads southeast toward Bermuda in June 2012. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL



If you can’t make it to watch the start in Narragansett Bay’s East Passage, between Newport and Jamestown, you can join Livestream 2pm to 5pm (Eastern Time) for coverage. Providing live video and commentary, Andy Green will host the program from the Inn at Castle Hill overlooking the starting line.

In 2014, a class of larger cruiser/racers gets underway on an upwind angle towards the Onion Patch. Photo: Barry Pickthall/PPL

In 2014, a class of larger cruiser/racers gets underway on an upwind angle towards the Onion Patch. Photo: Barry Pickthall/PPL



The biggest boat in the fleet is Jim and Kristy Clark’s 100-foot Comanche, which has the speed potential to break the existing record for the course of 39 hours, 39 minutes. But most boats in the race won’t finish on Monday, much less Sunday, and are more likely to arrive in Bermuda on Tuesday or even Wednesday. In all likelihood, that’s when the winner on handicap will arrive. Last year’s winner was the Hinckley B40 Actaea, owned by Michael Cone, completing the course in 121 hours 44 minutes and 39 seconds.

Purpose-built racers like Hap Fauth’s Bellamente and George Sakellaris’s Shockwave, here sailing in 2014, are likely to finish the course in three days as they compete for top honors in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse division for boats without restrictions on professional crews. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL

Purpose-built racers like Hap Fauth’s Bellamente  and George Sakellaris’s Shockwave, here sailing in 2014, are likely to finish the course in three days as they compete for top honors in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse division for boats without restrictions on professional crews. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL



A day before the start, the weather forecast predicts lighter winds to start but strong winds once the boats make it farther offshore and entering the Gulf Stream.  If that’s the case—and it often is in this race—the sailing will be rough and the safety preparations required of boat and crew by the race organizers, Cruising Club of America and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, will be put to the test. At the beginning, however, the going could be slow.

The Bermudan youth sail-training schooner, Spirit of Bermuda, sails every year in its own division. Built in 2006, the vessel is 112 feet in overall length, 86 feet on the waterline. Photo: Talbot Wilson/PPL

The Bermudan youth sail-training schooner, Spirit of Bermuda, sails every year in its own division. Built in 2006, the vessel is 112 feet in overall length, 86 feet on the waterline. Photo: Talbot Wilson/PPL



 J/46 Breezing Up

Nearing the finish off St. David’s Lighthouse at the northeast end of Bermuda, Breezing Up sails the final minutes of her race in 2014. Owned by W. Bradford Willauer, the J/46 cruiser/racer finished third in its class.



All boats in the 2016 fleet will be equipped with YB satellite trackers so you can follow competitors’ progress with Pantaenius Race Tracking delayed by four hours to limit competitors’ ability to use the tracking to closely cover their competitors. A YB tracking app is also available for mobile devices.

 

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