Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bermuda One-Two Race- Leg 1 Report

J/133 JHawk sailing Bermuda Race (Hamilton, Bermuda)- The Bermuda One-Two Race just completed their first leg of the 635nm adventure from Newport, RI to Hamilton, Bermuda.  The first leg is the “singlehanded” leg, the “one” combatant dueling with all others “mano-a-mano” from the start off Newport’s famous Fort Adams to a line-sight finish off St David’s Head on the eastern end of Bermuda.

The weather at the start was simply spectacular.  A beautiful southerly seabreeze built into Narragansett Bay, blowing about 10-14 kts from the South-southwest.  With a flood current, the goal was to tack as few times as possible for the singlehanded sailors!  In Class 1, while one of the Class 40s nailed the start on starboard tack, Clay Burkhalter’s J/133 J-HAWK took off on port tack from the port end of the line headed for the famous “Clingstone” house on the rock.  Taking just two tacks to get out of the Bay, Clay took a long port board all the way across to Mackerel Cove on the Jamestown side of the Bay’s East Passage.  After tacking onto starboard, he and the top Class 40 were neck-and-neck for the lead of the race headed off on starboard tack on about a 200 deg heading to Bermuda.

J/35 Breakaway sailing Bermuda1-2 Race/ Paul Grimes skipperSimilarly, in Class 2, Paul Grimes’ J/35 BREAKAWAY had a similar approach and was easily the top boat in her class, leading them out of the Bay.

Subsequently, while good breezes prevailed overnight as they headed to Bermuda, there was a solid 24-hour segment of the race that plagued all the competitors.  Making the most of those conditions were Burkhalter’s J-HAWK and Grimes’ BREAKAWAY.  Both boats made significant gain on their competitors in the wildly varying conditions.  For a long time, it looked like both boats would win their class and finish 1-2 overall!  However, the timing of J-HAWK’s finish at St David’s head coincided perfectly with the big squalls that were rolling over Bermuda at 30-35 kts when the New Zealand America’s Cup catamaran skippered by Peter Burling pitch-poled in a big gust at the start!  Needless to say, Burkhalter’s J-HAWK was a bit more conservative, reducing sail and, ultimately, giving up first place to finish safe and sound and take 2nd in class and 3rd overall.  Meanwhile, Grimes’ BREAKAWAY just missed some of the squally chaos and preserved his position to win both class and overall on the first leg!  More news later!

The next leg is the “two” version of the race, when the Bermuda to Newport leg has all boats sailing doublehanded to finish off Castle Hill Lighthouse in Newport, RI.  For more Bermuda One-Two Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.