The 52nd Newport Bermuda race will start on Friday 17th June 2022 with nearly 200 yachts set to take in the 635-mile course races almost entirely out of sight of land

Tomorrow, Friday 17th June 2022 will see the start of the 52nd Newport Bermuda Race. The biennial race will, this year, see over 190 yachts competing in the race which was first sailed over 100 years ago.

The history of the Newport Bermuda Race

The first Newport Bermuda race was held way back in 1906, when many thought it was a reckless idea for largely amateur crews to take on an offshore race.

It was considered a particularly foolhardy endeavour as all three of the first boats to take on the course measured in at under 40ft. It was even rumoured that funeral wreaths were delivered to the three boats so the sailors would be prepared to make a decent burial at sea.

The smallest entry then (and in Bermuda Race history) was the 28-foot sloop Gauntlet. She was notorious for her size, and also for her crew because it included a woman, 20-year-old Thora Lund Robinson.

Having outpaced Gauntlet and another boat which dropped out, the winner of the inaugural Newport Bermuda race was the 38-foot yawl Tamerlane, with Thomas Fleming Day (then editor of The Rudder magazine and a vocal supporter of the concept) as sailing master.

In 45 races over a century, only two boats have been lost, one on Bermuda’s reef, and the other in a deadly fire in 1932 that also claimed the Bermuda Race’s only loss of life.

Initially the race was set to be held on an annual basis, but following the race’s rebirth after the first world war, the decision was taken to move the Newport Bermuda Race to a biennial.

The race begins at the mouth of the East Passage against the spectacular backdrop of the Newport and Jamestown shore, where state parks and Castle Hill Inn offer excellent viewing opportunities for race fans. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL photo

Newport Bermuda Race 2022 course

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the start and finish location, the Newport Bermuda course is a relatively simple affair.

The 635-mile race sees competitors leave Newport and sail SSW straight to Bermuda. A unique element of this event when compared to other popular 600-milers such as the Rolex Fastnet Race, Caribbean 600, or Middle Sea Race is that the Newport Bermuda is raced almost entirely out of sight of land.

In a typical race, the fleet enters the Atlantic and the Gulf Stream, with rough water, giving the race its nickname, “The Thrash to the Onion Patch.” Once through the rough Gulf Stream, the sailors press on to the finish off St. David’s Lighthouse, then winding channel to Hamilton, Bermuda to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

How to follow the Newport Bermuda Race 2022

For those local to the race it can be a stunning sight to watch the fleet leave Newport. The startline is set at the mouth of the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, so if you can make it to Newport or Jamestown, you’ll find several vantage points to watch the fleet depart.

Race sponsor Castle Hill Inn offers ringside seating on its expansive lawn. Farther south, Brenton Point State Park also offers excellent views, as do the state parks at Fort Wetherill and Beavertail on the Jamestown side.

For international viewers there will be a Live Show streamed live on YouTube, with media team members Joe Cooper, Kate Somers, and John Burnham talking about the boats and teams.

Once the race begins, you can follow the Bluenose Yacht Sales YB tracker to see the fleet progress in real time towards Bermuda over the next two to five days. The tracker is also on the homepage, updating the position of each boat via satellite tracker every 15 minutes.

Many boats will also Tweet messages via the satellite connection, so if you see small Twitter logos on the tracker chart, click and read what was happening on that boat at that position on the course.

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