As we all know, the Race is really 3 races: to the Stream, through the Stream, and the approach to Bermuda. The experience also has 3 parts: preparation for departure in Newport, the Race, and the Post Race in Bermuda.
As a 16 year old the Pre-Race in Newport consisted of trying to sneak myself into the Candy Bar at night and during the days preparing (with butterflies in my stomach) for the adventure ahead with all its risks and unknowns.
Once at sea and settled down in the watch rotation – the bonding begins - whether this is over the first night’s traditional meatloaf dinner (now replaced by freeze dried), making sure you don’t let your crewmates down, participating in tactical decisions or making the 6th sail change of the night inflicted by an overzealous watch captain or by truly variable conditions.
The second part of the race is the thrill of entering the warm water of the Stream- putting the cold weather gear below, bracing for the occasional squall, and going as fast as you can for as long as you can even if it means more frequent trips to the foredeck for (wet) sail changes.
Once out of the Stream comes the moment of truth: spotting masts and gauging how you are doing. Then, the approach to the island. Always a different finish; always so close, yet so far.
Of course once across the finish line at David’s Light, whether or not victorious, the two hour trip into Hamilton Harbor always gives one the opportunity to shift gear and anticipate the fun days ahead in the sun and sea of Bermuda.
The Newport Bermuda Race has always been about those special times at sea, amidst nature’s elements, with my crewmates and my Dad. I hope that for my boys I can pass on the great tradition of the Newport Bermuda Race-a right of passage in the very special world of sailing and the sea.