The introduction of multihulls to the Newport Bermuda Race will help to enhance the event’s profile and boost the number of participants, according to Bermudian Olympic sailor Glenn Astwood.
For the first time catamarans and trimarans will be allowed to compete in the new Multihull Division during this year’s 51st edition of the biennial 635-mile classic.
“It will be good having multihulls competing in the Newport Bermuda Race,” said experienced offshore sailor Astwood, who has competed numerous times in the ocean race and also raced in the former Olympic class Tornado catamaran.
“Multihulls seem to be doing a lot more racing now with the big cruising multihulls and Gunboats instrumental in promoting large multihull racing. It will be good to see a different class racing in the Newport Bermuda Race.
“The multihulls are catering to a different breed of sailor; guys who want to go fast. They just did the Caribbean 600 and more than likely a lot of the boats that did that race are going to be now doing the Newport Bermuda Race.
“It will be amazing to have more boats racing in the Newport Bermuda Race and the more boats the merrier.”
The Multihull Division will feature boats ranging in size between 58 and 100 feet to be sailed by a crew new fewer than six.
The new division is the culmination of a collaboration between the Offshore Multihull Association and the Bermuda Race Organising Committee.
Multihulls are not the only new feature to the race as the Open Division is now open to yachts with vertical-lift foils.
These appendages slide out horizontally from the hull and provide the boat with considerable lift and power. Other foil arrangements are allowed in the Open Division, but with some restrictions in place.
The Gibbs Hill Lighthouse division is also now allowing canting-keel and water-ballast boats that were previously placed in the Open Division. It is anticipated that this allowance will increase the number of entries in the division.
The Newport Bermuda Race starts June 15 in Newport, Rhode Island, and will see up to 220 yachts competing for honours among eight divisions.
There is no overall winner, although the winning boat in the St David’s Lighthouse Division featuring amateur sailors is regarded as the race’s top boat.
The Newport Bermuda Race is part of the three-race Onion Patch Series, which also includes the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta.
The Newport Bermuda Race was founded in 1906 and is organised by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.