Newport Bermuda Race extended


Spectators at Castle Hill Inn watch as the fleet of the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race departs Narragansett Bay for the open Atlantic. Historically considered the best vantage point for the start of the race, the property is private. DANIEL FORSTER / PPL

Spectators at Castle Hill Inn watch as the fleet of the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race departs Narragansett Bay for the open Atlantic. Historically considered the best vantage point for the start of the race, the property is private. DANIEL FORSTER / PPL

With a new scoring model set to determine the winners of the Newport Bermuda Race, which sets sail June 21 from Narragansett Bay, the organizers in charge of the 118-year-old event are increasing its distance.

By a mile.

The race’s starting line has been relocated 1 mile north of Castle Hill to Fort Adams to provide spectators with the opportunity to witness the fleet from a more intimate vantage point. This decision extends the Thrash to the Onion Patch to 636 miles.

Jamestown resident Andrew Kallfelz, who chairs the organizing committee, said partnering with the state of Rhode Island, which owns the park, has allowed the race to “invest in transforming this hallmark biennial event into a celebration.” The new approach will allow for free shoreline viewing and a live broadcast.

“Fort Adams is a great venue for the public to come together to witness up close the adrenaline pumping start of this prestigious race,” Kallfelz said.

The online broadcast, which fans will be able to watch live from the race’s website, will feature seasoned commentators who will bring their expertise and insights into the dynamics of the race, organizers said. There also will be state-of-the-art technology to capture aerial footage of the race with graphics. The broadcast also will bring to life the stories from the action onboard, making it a captivating narrative for the viewership, organizers said.

Spectators at Fort Adams bid farewell to the 2014- 15 Volvo Ocean Race. The start of the Newport Bermuda Race has been relocated to Fort Adams from Castle Hill to allow free viewing for the public. DAN NERNEY / SAIL NEWPORT

Spectators at Fort Adams bid farewell to the 2014- 15 Volvo Ocean Race. The start of the Newport Bermuda Race has been relocated to Fort Adams from Castle Hill to allow free viewing for the public. DAN NERNEY / SAIL NEWPORT

The committee also decided for the 2024 edition to be the first offshore race to use the forecast-time correction factor. Organizers said they are confident the scoring model will be “a substantial improvement in fairness and clarity” over the former method, which was performance curve scoring.

Hours before the start of the race, a predicted elapsed time to finish for every boat will be determined using timely weather and current GRIB files. Each boat’s polar file will be used to determine the optimized route using expedition.

Within each division, a F-TCF will be calculated for each boat. The F-TCF is the ratio of a scratch boat’s predicted elapsed time to complete the course to the predicted elapsed time of each boat in the division.

The F-TCF for every boat will be communicated to the fleet the morning of the race. The corrected finish time for any boat can be calculated by multiplying the F-TCF for a boat by the actual elapsed time (plus penalties) for that boat. A rank order of corrected finish times by class and division will determine the order of finish for each class and division.

The previous method used a table of possible ratings for each boat based on historical statistical wind speeds and directions for the Newport-Bermuda course. An imputed average wind speed over the course is determined from a scratch boat’s finish time. In short, that method uses historical wind data and assumes a uniform course for the entire fleet, but actual conditions vary widely from the historical average, and conditions are never uniform across the fleet.

The F-TCF method is “inherently fairer” because the actual conditions during the race will be more like a forecast generated just before the race than to historical average conditions, organizers said.

Disruptive weather systems that variably affect different parts of the fleet are not accounted for using the old system. This often results in “lucky” weather patterns that favor or disfavor boats in particular performance bands. For example, a ridge develops 150 miles from Bermuda and the fast half of the fleet becomes “parked” there for a period while the slow half of the fleet catches up, and then wind fills in. In this example, the slow boats were “lucky.”

Since F-TCF uses the forecast for the racecourse and each boat’s expected route and speed, boats that are predicted to be impacted by a disruption will have a predicted elapsed time and corresponding F-TCF that accounts for this impact.

Another benefit of the new scoring method is that a rating for every boat will be determined and communicated in advance. That means every sailor will be able to determine how much time it owes or is owed by every other boat in its class and division at any time during the race.

In the former system, the rating value used to calculate the corrected time was determined after the fact. Therefore, a boat’s rating for scoring purposes was not known until after the finish, making it challenging for competitors and spectators to understand relative corrected positions during the race.

“The Bermuda race has always been in the vanguard of offshore races,” Kallfelz said. “We are proud to be the first to bring this innovative scoring method to the offshore racing community.”