Boating Safety

Bermuda Race Speed Record: Man Lost Overboard

Argo Bermuda

The 70’ (21.33 m) foiling trimaran, Argo, reached on one tack nearly the whole length of the 635-mile course from Newport, RI to Bermuda to break the race’s speed record.

Argo is the first-ever Saturday night finisher in the history of the storied Bermuda Race, which is co-organized by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Argo averaged 19.24 knots while setting the multihull course record and sailed mainly to the west of rhumb line and took advantage of a meander in the Gulf Stream that gave it a favorable boost towards Bermuda.

Watching the boat do its pre-race preps, one could see the mast canted heavily to starboard, indicating the crew knew it would be a starboard tack slog until they got within sight of Bermuda. The only two maneuvers were a tack to port and one back to starboard to the finish line off St. David’s Lighthouse in the final 10 miles of the course.

Argo Bermuda

The 70’ (21.33 m) foiling trimaran Argo just after the start of the Bermuda Race in the Newport, RI. on Friday, June 17th. Note that the center hull is actually riding on a foil.

Swept Overboard

After extended effort, Golder’s body was recovered by the crew and the vessel returned to the mainland. Next of kin has been informed. In the press release, race organized committee, the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club offered condolences to the family and crew of Golder.

It should be pointed out that perhaps no offshore sailing race in the U.S. has a more comprehensive pre-race safety education program than the Bermuda Race. Day-long workshops were conducted on weekends covering different areas of safety, including damage control and man overboard drills. We are told that at least 30% of each boat’s crew had to take the course before the boat could be certified to start.

185 Starters

There were 185 starters broken down into 19 different classes for the fleet. The longest boat in the race was the 141’ (42.97 m) steel-hull schooner Columbia and the smallest boat was the 32’ (9.75 m) fiberglass sloop Selkie, which was in one of two double-handed classes. By permitting nearly any type of boat longer than 32’ in the race and by allowing double-handed crews, the Bermuda Race committee encouraged the widest participation possible. The Bermuda Race is generally considered to be the premier offshore racing event on the American East Coast.

Columbia, schooner

The yacht Columbia, which was modeled after the famous Gloucester schooners of the 1920s, was arguably the most beautiful vessel in the race.

A Brief History

Thomas Fleming Day, editor of The Rudder magazine (founded in 1891), the first boating magazine in the U.S., started the Bermuda Race in 1906 to prove that small sailboats could be as seaworthy and safe as large vessels. “The danger of the sea for generations has been preached by the ignorant,” said Day, as he took aim at yacht racing’s governing Poohbahs at the time who were wealthy yachtsmen who owned boats longer than 80’ (24.38 m). Certain that an ocean race would be enjoyable and safe — and develop better sailors and better boats — Day founded and promoted the Bermuda Race. The first race also had the first woman skipper, Thora Lund Robinson.

Argo Bermuda

Argo was probably the most complicated and hardest boat to sail in the race because racing trimarans are easily blown over as they sail at high speeds on only one, thin-out-rigger hull. Note that the mast is canted to starboard for greater efficiency on the starboard tack.

Bermuda Race

Weather at the starting line varied from bright sun to fog to thunderstorms with lightning strikes nearby.  At one point, the later class starts were postponed due to a storm cell with high winds passing through.

Castle Hill Inn

Spectators crowded the lawn of the Castle Hill Inn and restaurant which was adjacent to the starting line.