Friday, June 20 at 12:50 EDT the New York Yacht Club Race committee will sound the first warning signal for the 49th Newport Bermuda Race off the deck of the 125 foot ketch Axia. She anchors the starting line that will stretch west to east across the mouth of Narragansett Bay. The sail-training vessel Spirit of Bermuda owned by the Bermuda Sloop Foundation will start first in Class 0 leading the fleet to her island home as the sole boat in the Spirit of Tradition Division. Spirit will be racing her second consecutive Newport Bermuda Race, chartered this year by Bermuda businessman Jim Butterfield.
Ten minutes later, the first of 14 other classes is scheduled to start. Classes should start at 10-minute intervals after that. Class I features two regular top finishers in this 635-mile classic. Selkie, a McCurdy & Rhodes 38 footer with past Cruising Club of America Commodore Sheila McCurdy at the helm, has come second in the St. David's Lighthouse division twice. Pete Rebovich returns to try to earn his recently rebuilt Cal 40 Sinn Fein a third St. David's Lighthouse win. Pete has had the same crew of friends and family since 2006.
From Class 2 the spotlight will be on the Olin Stephens yawl Dorade and the Navy 44 Swift which was a top finisher in 2012. The 52-foot S&S yawl built in 1929 and painstakingly restored by Matt Brooks of San Francisco also sailed in 2012.
Class 3 features Carina, sailed by Rives Potts and his regular crew of friends. They had an excellent weekend tune-up in the New York Yacht Club 160th annual Regatta presented by Rolex, Carina has won the St. David's Lighthouse Division and the sterling trophy in the past two races. She also won in 1970 under then owner Richard Nye. If Carina wins, she will be the yacht holding the most Lighthouse trophies. She will again be tested in her class by another Naval Academy boat, Defiance, which finished second in class and second in the St. David's Lighthouse Division in 2012.
There is dock talk around the Newport Shipyard that this may be a 'small boat' race based on wind predictions. These excellent competitors in the smaller boat classes may have an edge.