2016 Onion Patch Series

More than 50 boats win Newport Bermuda prizes

AwardsBy Talbot Wilson

His Excellency, The Governor of Bermuda, George Fergusson did his duty Saturday night on the podium in front of Government House. The seasoned diplomat shook hands, shared awards and trophies, and posed for photos 114 times with skippers and crews of more than 50 yachts. Sharing duties with the Governor were Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Leatrice Oatley, Cruising Club of America Commodore Jim Binch, and the RBYC Vice-Commodore Jon Corless. The RBYC Honorary Secretary Andy Burnett-Herkes was Master of Ceremonies.

Warrior Won, an Xp41, skippered by Christopher Sheehan of Larchmont (NY) Yacht Club took the main prize, the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy. This silver replica of the island’s landmark lighthouse is awarded to the boat in St. David’s Lighthouse Division with the best corrected time. This division was the largest in the fleet with 110 entries.

Shearwater won the Cruiser Division’s Carleton Mitchell Finisterre Trophy for first place on corrected time. She’s a Mason 43 sailed by Daniel Biemesderfer from Stonington Harbor Yacht Club.

Spirit of Bermuda won the Spirit of Tradition Division against three other competitors and was awarded the War Baby Trophy. The crew of 32 and friends of Spirit accepted the prize from the Governor.

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Newport Bermuda awards 114 prizes

Lighthouse TrophyBy Talbot Wilson

Dateline Newport RI: June 24, 2016— An international group of sailors and guests at the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race prize-giving will celebrate the final moments of a spectacular week after starting the 50th Thrash to the Onion Patch Friday, June 17 in Newport, RI. Of the 185 boats officially registered to race, 133 boats set out expecting be sorely tested by difficult conditions in the 635-mile Gulf stream crossing. Forecasters were wrong. 122 finished with just ten dropouts coming from equipment failures or just drifting conditions. The race actually turned out to be one of finest with a full moon and normal offshore sailing conditions.

His Excellency, The Governor of Bermuda, George Fergusson and the Commodores of the Cruising Club of America, Jim Binch, and of Commodore of Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, Leatrice Oatley, will present 114 prizes. Five are major Division trophies and the remainder are for class podium finishes and other awards. The ceremony is held on the grounds of Government House overlooking Bermuda’s North shore channel.

The yacht Warrior Won, an Xp41, skippered by Christopher Sheehan of Larchmont (NY) Yacht Club took the main prize, the St David’s Lighthouse Trophy. This silver replica of the islands landmark lighthouse is awarded to the boat in St. David’s Lighthouse Division that is first on handicap corrected time. This division was the largest in the fleet with 110 entries.

In the second largest division, the Cruiser Division, Shearwater wins the Carleton Mitchell Finisterre Trophy for first place on corrected time. She’s a Mason 43 sailed by Daniel Biemesderfer out of Stonington Harbor Yacht Club.

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On the side of youth

By Chris Museler

When the Chilean-flagged Swan 57 Equinoccio powered through a Gulf Stream squall last weekend during the Newport to Bermuda Race, the speedometer pegged 15.7 knots, a record for the boat. As the sheets strained, a tiny voice rang up from the companionway, “Usted debe tomar la vela hacia abajo o irá en el agua!”

What little 3½-year-old Larry Westcott was saying to his father was this:  “Take the genoa down or it’ll get ripped off and blown into the water.”

Father Martine Westcott obliged. He dropped the genoa, took in a reef, and the boat galloped along under shortened sail until the squall passed. “That was a precise call he made,” said Martine, recalling the moment.

The teeny sailor has sailed more than 5,000 miles with his mother, father, Uncle Philip, and crew. Yesterday he was cheerfully greeted by Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Leatrice Oatley.

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First Chinese Entry

By John Rousmaniere

Dateline Newport RI: June 24, 2016— The Newport Bermuda Race’s international race course has long attracted sailors and boats from many countries. The 185-boat entry list in early June included sailors from 23 countries and 21 boats with non-US sail numbers. Fifty-five of the crews included sailors from outside the USA.

This year the race had its first-ever Chinese entry, Spirit of Noahs (sail number CHN 323). A J-44 chartered from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the boat was sailed by 10 experienced Chinese sailors from Noahs Sailing Club, described as the first professional team based in Shanghai. Last October, Team Noahs raced in the Audi China Coast Regatta in Hong Kong and then in the Audi Hong Kong to Vietnam Yacht Race. In December, the team competed in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in their very own TP 52. 

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Newport Bermuda: Challenge and Variety

NavigatorsBy John Rousmaniere

The Newport Bermuda Race has long been well known for the variety of the challenges it throws at sailors.  Sometimes there are calms, at other times storms, often there’s overcast, and occasionally there is the distraction of a stunningly beautiful night. This year, a full moon rose over the fleet with such brilliance that one sailor (Bermuda Race Organizing Committee Chairman A.J. Evans, sailing in Vamp) took a break from his steering and sail-trimming duties to send out an email at 2 o’clock one morning saying, “Spectacular evening of sailing here on a gentle sea with a decent breeze under a full moon and stars.”

The sea is not always so pleasant. When weather forecasters predicted before the start on June 17 that the entries would be battered by brutal storms, 50 crews dropped out, leaving 133 boats start the race off Newport, RI, on June 17.  The grim forecast turned out to be correct, but only in the far eastern part of the race course. The few boats sailing there survived the 45-knot winds with discomfort but no reported damage, and sailed on to Bermuda. 

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Fleet's in. WARRIOR ONE leads

Warrior One CrewBy Talbot Wilson and John Rousmaniere

Based on Wednesday’s provisional results, Warrior Won, the Xp44 skippered by Christopher Sheehan out of Larchmont YC has emerged as the St David’s Lighthouse winner for the 50th Thrash to the Onion Patch, the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race. She finished Tuesday morning at 10:10:25 and her corrected time was 70:40:03.

The St. David’s Light House Trophy goes to the corrected time winner of the largest division. This year Warrior Won defeated 70 boats vying for the silver lighthouse replica. Only amateurs are allowed to drive the boats in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division

Second place in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division goes to the little Cal 40, Flyer, owned by Douglas Abbott. She finished Wednesday morning at 7:20:24 with a corrected time of 71:33:05. High Noon, the first ‘Traditional’ boat to finish, came third on corrected time.

After a slow approach to Bermuda, the Newport Bermuda race organizers expect the entire fleet to be in Hamilton Harbour Wednesday night. There were nine boats moored at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club marina overnight. At 08:00 this morning three more had made their way around from St. George’s where yachts are asked to stay after arriving after dark. By mid-afternoon 102 boats had finished off St. David’s Head in Bermuda. Another 25 were closing in on the line. 133 boats started in Newport and nine had retired during the race for various mechanical problems or gear failures.

Click here for provisional RESULTS

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