The Bermuda Race

By Tori Willauer

 A shot of the race in 2016 on  Breezing Up . Photo courtesy of Tori Willauer.

A shot of the race in 2016 on Breezing Up. Photo courtesy of Tori Willauer.

The 635-mile biennial Newport Bermuda Race is the oldest regularly scheduled ocean race, one of very few international distance races, and (with the Transpac Race) one of just two of the world’s regularly scheduled races held almost entirely out of sight of land.  Founded in 1906, the Bermuda Race is held for the 51st time in 2018.  

Between 150 and 200 boats typically sail the race. Depending on the weather and the currents in the Gulf Stream, and the boat’s size and speed, the race takes two to six days. The race is demanding. The rules say, “The Newport Bermuda Race is not a race for novices.” The course crosses the rough Gulf Stream and is mostly out of the range of rescue helicopters. Bermuda is also guarded by a dangerous reef.  The race is nicknamed “the thrash to the Onion Patch” because most Bermuda Races include high winds and big waves (a combination sailors call “a hard thrash”), and because Bermuda is an agricultural island.  

 A recent Gulf Stream analysis. Part of the strategizing for the race is figuring out how to navigate through the Gulf Stream.

A recent Gulf Stream analysis. Part of the strategizing for the race is figuring out how to navigate through the Gulf Stream.

This year, our Sailing Director, Tori Willauer, is racing on Breezing Up, a J46 with a family crew. Tori and her husband Tony Fitch are joined this year by their son, Jackson (14) for his first NBR. Her brother, Ben Willauer, and cousins, Charlie and Langley Willauer, and their children, Peter and Nora Willauer, round out the crew. Tori's father, Brad Willauer, is the Commadore of the CCA and has to sit this race out to oversee the race. He has sailed in 20 NBRs and 4 Marion to Bermuda races and did his first race when he was also 14, the same age as his grandson. Live tracking of the race HERE!

 The Willauer crew from 2014. Most of the crew for this year's race will be the same. Photo courtesy of Tori Willauer.

The Willauer crew from 2014. Most of the crew for this year's race will be the same. Photo courtesy of Tori Willauer.