Jamestown boats head to Bermuda
Excitement is in the air as about 200 sailboats head to the starting line tomorrow for the Newport Bermuda Race.
If you haven't noticed, the docks at the boat yards on the island have been bustling with activity as the crews prepare their sailboats for the race.
The first Bermuda race from Newport was in 1906 and the Newport Bermuda Race has been sailed biennially since 1936.
According to Talbot Wilson, who handles the public relations for the Newport Bermuda Race, the first start will be at 1 p.m. on Friday. There are 15 classes of boats in the race.
The Bermuda-bound yachts will start in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, unless weather forces the race committee to move the start out to the navigation buoy R2, Wilson said.
The start of the Newport Bermuda Race is a sight to see. From Jamestown, the best spots to view the start include atop the hill at Ft. Wetherill and the shoreline at Beavertail State Park.
The 635-mile race could be a quick sprint for the largest boats. Wilson said the 98-footer Speedboat has the fastest rating and could finish in Bermuda as early as Sunday morning, depending on the weather.
However, the average sailboat of 40 feet will probably finish on Monday or Tuesday, Wilson said.
This offshore classic sailboat race is all about the weather and the Gulf Stream. Choosing the proper course based on those two factors will determine who gets the bragging rights.
The sailboats race from Narragansett Bay to the Gulf Stream. Once there, their navigators select the best course so they will have a favorable current across the Gulf Stream. The boats leave the Gulf Stream about 50 miles from Bermuda and head to the finish line.
All boats are handicapped, so the finishes will be determined by corrected times.
As always, Jamestown is well represented on the race course. The Jamestown boats in this year's Newport Bermuda race include:
• James Bishop's J44 Gold Digger.
• Hap Fauth's RP69 Bella Mente. Hap's boat was the first to finish in the 2006 Bermuda race. His time was four days, 20 hours and 44 minutes.
• Bruce and Dorsey Beard's Sabre 386 Esmeralde. This is their second Bermuda race in the double-handed division.
• Andrew Kallfelz's Tartan 41 Aurora.
• Stephen de Voe's Swan 45 Devocean. Also aboard will be Clem Napolitano, de Voe's partner in the Jamestown Boat Yard.
• Jeffrey Urbina's Sabre 402 II Bodacious.
Each boat in the Bermuda race will carry a GPS device, so you will be able to keep track of their progress in real time. Just visit www.bermudarace.com for details.
We'll report on the Jamestown boats' finishes in next week's Jamestown Press.
We wish the sailors a bon voyage.
- Jeff McDonough