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.
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.
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.
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.
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.