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Newport Bermuda Race bolsters safety

Jan 1, 2003

The 42nd biennial Newport, R.I., to Bermuda Race, sponsored jointly bythe Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, is proving to be as popular as ever. This year's race, which starts off Newport on June 16, is expecting 200 entries of vessels from 36 feet to 80 feet. Race organizers have stepped up safety precautions in the wake of the Dec. 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race, which claimed the life of six sailors."We've learned some lessons from the Sydney-Hobart Race," said George Bauer, spokesman for the Newport Bermuda Race Committee. "We have always had pre-race boat inspections; but this year we'll have 40 inspectors from all over the world ensuring that each yacht is up to ORC standards. We also require that 25 percent of each crew has attended a safety at sea seminar, including at least two of the following crew: the captain, navigator, and port and starboard watch captains."

The Race record, held by the maxi-yacht Boomerang, was set in 1996: 57 hours, 31 minutes, 30 seconds. Most of the faster vessels arrive in Bermuda some time on Sunday following a noon start on the preceding Friday.

One change the race committee is considering, one that might eventually occur, although not this year, Bauer said, is the allowance of multihulls, following an interest by Steve Fossett to enter his cat PlayStation. Fossett established a record run last year for the Newport Bermuda leg: 38 hours, 35 minutes, 54 seconds.

The first Newport to Bermuda Race was sailed with three entries in 1906. Two of the yachts finished; the other was turned back by bad weather.

This year a Classics Division will include Rugosa, a New York 40 that won the Race in 1928 and is sailing on behalf of the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol, R.I.; Kirawan, a Rhodes 54 that won the race in 1936; and Ticonderoga, an L. Francis Herreshoff-designed ketch built in 1936.

For more information, including how to register or participate, visit the Race web site: www.bermudarace.com.