Newport to Bermuda or Bust
In 2019 I was sailing Reverie north past Hammersmith Farm in 12 to 15 knots of east-southeast wind. As I casually looked over my left shoulder, I saw the trimaran Argo zipped by me going in 12 easy knots; neither the boat nor its crew seemed to be breathing hard as they were sailing in flat water with perfect wind – ideal conditions. In addition, this fast engine sailed perfectly by flapping only its mainsail. I knew that finally Argo would return and sail south on a reciprocal course while flapping one of her headsails. Argo was practicing for something. Sure enough, as I approached the Jamestown side center span of the Pell Bridge and passed a locally moored monohull – owned by a competitive Newport, Bermuda racer named Jay Gowell – called Temptress,
I saw this terrific trimaran coming upwind with her number two jib while steering a hull and going maybe 18 knots or more.
Awesome stuff, and that day I was quick on the draw with my iPhone and videotaped her performance downwind and upwind. (For more information, see my Facebook page for from Argos videos.).
What I love about sailing from Newport Harbor for 30 years is that I get to see the latest state of the art sail designs and learn a lot of cool things from watching the boats sail through the bay. Also, I learned to use my iPhone as a notebook for my writing ideas. There’s a lot to note in this particular port for a scribble
Argo is a MOD 70 – Multi One Design 70 – and the boat is designed for one thing, speed. If you’re a sailor owning and running a rig like this, you have some serious competitive issues. from Argos owner, Jason Carroll, is such a sailor. On June 17, while taking part in the start of this year’s Newport to Bermuda Race, Carroll and his crew went to load onto the start line near the race committee boat and then began to push Argo towards the finish line in Bermuda.
The MOD 70 is a well-built, race-tested boat; however, these boats can break. In fact, the other MOD 70 sailing to Bermuda broke off halfway to Hamilton, Bermuda and her rig fell off. Fortunately, no crew member was injured. Her name is Ultimate Emotion 2. Sailing ahead Argo 10 miles in this very challenging ocean race, Ultimate Emotion 2 had to retire from the race after her rig was submerged. I have no idea how it happened; however, I saw the damaged trimaran on its return to Fort Adams. Next, Argo crossed the finish line in Bermuda after an arduous 33 hour sail. She broke a 116-year-old line honors record in the race while making nearly 20 knots for the entire sail to Bermuda. The crew of this boat worked very hard during the race, while facing adverse conditions throughout. Especially in the Gulf
Flow. I doubt anyone slept a wink. Apparently, after four tacks from the start line, Argo headed straight for Bermuda on a tack while sailing in difficult conditions.
There is another bold design seen these days on Narragansett Bay. This is an IMOCA class boat called malama of the 11th Hour Racing Foundation. This is the wildest boat design I have ever seen in all my years of sailing out of Newport. Charlie Enright of Barrington is her skipper. Enright is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to racing this type of boat. malama raced in the open division. This high-performance foiling boat also raced from Newport to Bermuda this year and went from Castle Hill start to finish in 41.5 hours; I can’t understand speeds that Argoand malama are able to do in ocean conditions. (For some perspective, the fastest I’ve ever sailed on a boat was aboard my 30ft Ericson, Reverie. Sailing downwind in a storm it was 10.5 knots, which is as fast as I want to go in a sailboat.)
What was interesting malama, in addition to its design and racing ability, there was the unique composition of its crew for this race. Skipper Charlie Enright was joined by: a professional big wave surfer named Ian Walsh, a professional backcountry snowboarder named Elena Hight, a professional Swiss sailor named Justine Mettraux and an OBR (onboard reporter) named Amory Ross . This boat forces the crew to adopt a spartan state of mind; there are no frills on an IMOCA class boat. It’s all about speed and endurance; it’s about brains and muscles. This is austerity for the comfort of the crew. The aforementioned crew sailed a frank and punishing race in their soaring carbon fiber cavern. Both Argo and malama are foiling boats and placed first and second in their respective classes. These boats essentially fly while using and managing the mass and physics of their designs. Provocative stuff.
Scouting around Fort Adams after malama Back in Newport, I spoke to a guy connected to the 11th Hour Racing program. As I was talking to a guy named Finn, I noticed the inner workings of this wild looking boat and was taken by the grinding pedestal, winches, lines and computer screens. There is no headroom in the enclosed cockpit for the crew to trim the sheets and trim the sails. This boat demands the attention of its skipper and crew – it’s a complex rig – especially when on its foils where balance and rig adjustment are the rule of the moment. Additionally, this boat is also designed to shed water when loading forward. The faster the water flows backward, the faster it can move forward with less drag. In some of the videos of the race that I have seen that have been posted online, it appeared that malama sailed in the water, not above it. This is the future of offshore racing.
The 52nd south bash was not an easy race, far from it. Each boat had its challenges and unfortunately there was the loss of a sailor’s life. The takeaway from any sailboat race is how the captain, tactician and crew engage the elements in order to achieve a common goal. Finally, in a spirit of sport and competition, men and women can reach their highest moments.
In the wind