Harken Derm

Taking the Onion Patch Challenge

Published on April 21st, 2016

Entries are open for the Onion Patch Challenge, a three-event triathlon of diverse yacht racing that offers individual yacht competition plus competition among three-boat teams. The series includes the New York Yacht Club 162nd Annual Regatta presented by Rolex in Newport, the Newport Bermuda Race and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta in Bermuda.

The Onion Patch “Notice of Series” and access to the entry portal for the series are now available on the Onion Patch Series website.

Each of the three events must be entered from that event’s entry system on their own event websites:
New York Yacht Club 162nd Annual Regatta
Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta

Yachts not sailing the entire series may choose to race the NYYC Regatta June 11-12 as a warm-up for the ocean race. Yachts and crews wishing to enjoy sailing Friday June 24th on the Great Sound in Bermuda, the 2017 America’s Cup site, may enter the RBYC Regatta in either the traditional or Navigators Race format.

Two levels of competition are offered. Choose high-level, windward-leeward racing in the ‘traditional’ Onion Patch Series or less-intense competition in Newport and Bermuda with racing around government marks and set buoys in the Onion Patch Navigators Series. Boats must qualify for each of the events in the series under the individual event’s rules.

About The Onion Patch Series
The Onion Patch Series was born in 1962 when the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club board and members backed the concept. They deeded the Onion Patch Trophy for competition by national teams of yachts entered in the Newport Bermuda Race.

Racing for the first Series in 1964 was scheduled to include a 25-mile race off the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, the Newport Bermuda Race and a 25-mile race off Bermuda’s South shore. The first Onion Patch attracted teams from Bermuda, the United States and Argentina and was won by the USA.

Since 1994, the series has started with windward-leeward racing in the Rhode Island Sound’s often brisk winds and tricky currents. It’s been anchored by the daunting challenge of the classic 635-mile Newport Bermuda Race® with its exciting Gulf Stream crossing in the Thrash to the Onion Patch. And it has concluded with a windward-leeward race and a scenic flexi-course in flat water with shifty breezes on Bermuda’s Great Sound, the Granaway Deep, Port Royal Bay and Hamilton Harbour.

In 2014 the Onion Patch Navigators Race Series was added. This opened the series to include cruiser-oriented programs and courses around government buoys and dropped marks in both Newport and Bermuda.

The Onion Patch Series initially was team-oriented, like the Admiral’s Cup. But it has evolved into a tough triathlon of offshore yacht racing for both teams going for the Onion Patch Trophy and for individual yachts racing for the Henry B. du Pont Trophy. Navigators Series entries now compete for the Richard ‘Dick’ Kempe Trophy.

In the early days, when the Onion Patch Series was purely for international three-boat teams, the numbers were naturally small. Boats would have to sail or be shipped to New York or Newport. Competing was expensive.

In 1990 and 1992 more emphasis was placed on individual entries. Teams representing yacht clubs and sailing associations or other organizations were allowed entry in addition to national teams. In 1994, the year of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club’s 150th anniversary, the final event of the series was moved back to Bermuda to include the RBYC Anniversary Regatta. Entries reached 45 individual yachts with 21 of them forming seven teams.

The Onion Patch Series continues to attract a good fleet of boats because of the exciting challenges it offers to professional and amateur sailors alike. In 2014 there were 23 entries – 16 traditional and seven entries in the new Navigators Race Series. There were three three-boat teams in 2014. In 2012 there had been 23 individual entries and three teams. This was down from 2010 when there were 38 individual entries and five three-boat teams. In 2006, the Bermuda Race Centennial year, there were 48 individual entries and seven teams, while 2008 had 30 entries and four teams.

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