Newport Bermuda Race cancelled

  • Biennial race: the historic event dates back to 1906 (Photograph by Charles Anderson/Newport Bermurda Race)
  • Happier days: boats from the Newport to Bermuda’s last race in 2018 tied up alongside at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The historic Newport Bermuda Race is to be cancelled for the first time in 80 years, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club said yesterday.

Organisers added that the race — axed because of the Covid-19 pandemic — was last abandoned in 1940 under the gathering storm clouds of the Second World War.

Jay Gowell, the chairman of the Bermuda Race Organising Committee, said: “As representatives of the race’s co-sponsoring clubs — the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club — the BROC believes in promoting the practice of safety as a way of life offshore.

“Our committee has always held the position that we can only conduct the Bermuda race if conditions for competitors and local populations made it safe to do so.

“After continuing to seek guidance from numerous government and medical advisers, it has become evident there is no longer a timeline allowing our sailors and supporters to prepare for and participate in this offshore race safely.”

He added: “This decision is extremely disappointing to our sailors as well as organisers.

“As an international race organising authority, it is our responsibility to be a part of the solution to reduce the risk of exposure.”

The biennial race, which would have been the 52nd in the event’s 114-year history, was scheduled to start on June 19.

Mr Gowell said the organisers would work with sponsors, vendors and suppliers to “balance our accounts equitably” and will return entry fees paid after the initial deposit.

He added that the Cruising Club of America and the RBYC would not make any money from the event.

Mr Gowell said: “We would like to say thank you to all competitors for their support, encouragement and understanding as we have navigated this unprecedented and uncertain time.

“We want to recognise that some of you have proposed an alternative race that would not land a fleet of sailors in Bermuda.

“However, with the situation dire and the future unpredictable, we have chosen not to organise an alternative race.”

The Newport to Bermuda race, dubbed “the thrash to the Onion Patch”, was launched in 1906 and continued as an annual event for five years.

The event returned after the end of the First World War and continued every second year until 1940.

The race restarted in 1946 after the end of the Second World War.

It has been held every other year since then.

The next Newport to Bermuda Race is scheduled to start on June 17, 2022.