The Newport Bermuda Race, the "Mt Monadnock" of sailing, begins tomorrow with the first class going off at 1300. Short handed racing is slowly gaining popularity here in the US and this year's double handed division has 21 boats ready to go, but this is a far cry from the 30+ that applied for entry.
We all know why Dragon won't be on the line, and Rail Meat's in-race forum antics will be missed but how and why did all the others drop out? Sure it was only $50 to apply for entry, but we have to assume they all wanted to be there and can't because they couldn't get ready in time. More evidence that the first big chunk of any distance race is fought before the starting gun sounds.
The DH division will be split into two classes, as has been done the last several runnings. The first, and slower class will start at 1510 and will be occupied by names we've all seen before. Lora Ann and Paladin have been dominating the Long Island Sound short handed scene for the better part of a decade now, the former with at least three Bermuda race DH wins and the latter winning in 2010. But do either of these boats enter Bermuda 1-2, or how about the 2012 Bermuda race winner, Mireille? Nope. Might they be rusty? Probably not, but it's fun to talk a little smack pre-race.
Enter Scott Miller of Resolute and his co-skipper Gust Stringos who each have three Bermuda 1-2s and plenty of Bermuda Races under their belts. Resolute was best in fleet in last year's 1-2 on combined score and won every other short handed race he entered. The guy's got momentum and this could well be Resolute's year.
But there's plenty of other contenders out there include Kiva and Alibi, who have plenty of experience on this course and have earned third place showings in 2004 and 2012 respectively. Another entry worth noting is the J111 Eagles Dare, who just rolled off a DH line honors victory at the Block Island race and gave Resolute a run for their money in a couple solo races last summer in Mass & Maine.
The four Class 40s are going to have a hell of time reaching the podium because of their ORR ratings. We all remember 2012 when Gryphon Solo 2 destroyed the DH fleet on elapsed, including all the other Class 40s and still only managed a second place on corrected. No doubt that wasn't good enough for Joe and he's planning to do something about it this week but his biggest challenge is the rating.
Anyway you slice it, the light air, finesse sailors will have a keen advantage for the first chunk of the race.