Celebrating 50th Trash to the Onion Patch
Published on June 25th, 2016
Hamilton, Bermuda (June 25, 2016) – An international group of sailors and guests at the 2016 Newport Bermuda Race prize-giving celebrated the final moments of a spectacular week that was the 50th Thrash to the Onion Patch. At the awards presentation today, 114 awards were dispersed to more than 50 yachts.
Of the 185 boats officially registered to race, 133 boats set out June 17 in Newport, RI expecting to be sorely tested by difficult conditions in the 635-mile Gulf Stream crossing. Forecasters were wrong. From the starting pack, 122 finished with just ten dropouts coming from equipment failures or just drifting conditions. The race actually turned out to be one of finest with a full moon and normal offshore sailing conditions.
The first award was one of the most popular of the ceremony. The new Stephens Brothers Trophy for the top boat with a youth crew went to High Noon, the American Yacht Club (NY) entry in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division with seven of her 10 sailors (two girls and five boys) ages 15-18. Only 41 feet long, the very aggressively sailed High Noon was second boat to finish behind Comanche, beating many larger competitors. This was the one of several trophies won by the young crew and their three adult shipmates.
Owners Jim and Kristy Hinze Clark and skipper Kenny Read accepted the prizes awarded the big Comanche as top boat in the Open Division, and also as first to finish. The boat set a new elapsed time record of 34 hours, 42 minutes, 33 seconds–an 18-knot average speed on the 635-mile course, breaking the old race elapsed time record by five hours. Comanche is a professionally sailed, cutting-edge boat designed to break records around the world.
Warrior Won, an Xp44, skippered by Christopher Sheehan of Larchmont (NY) Yacht Club took the St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy. This silver replica of the island’s landmark lighthouse is awarded to the boat in St. David’s Lighthouse Division that is first on handicap corrected time. This division was the largest in the fleet with 110 entries, all with amateur sailors steering. Warrior Won won several prizes, including for winning navigator HL Devore.
In the second largest division, the Cruiser Division (also requiring that helmsmen be amateur sailors), Shearwater won the Carleton Mitchell Finisterre Trophy for first place on corrected time. She’s a Mason 43 sailed by Daniel Biemesderfer out of Stonington Harbor Yacht Club. Among the Double-Handed Division sailors, Yankee Girl was first out of 16 entries with co-skippers Zachary Lee of Pelham NY and Gus Stringos of Skowhegan ME sharing the helm. They win the Philip S Weld Moxie trophy, named for a fine American short-handed sailor of the past, and one of his boats.
Bermuda’s favorite entry, the Bermuda Sloop Foundation’s training ship Spirit of Bermuda, took first against three other competitors in the Spirit of Tradition Division, beating Troy Sears’ America, which had been sailed around from San Diego for the race. Prizes for the Gibbs Hill Division were not presented because the entries did not start the race.
As always in this ceremony, the last prize to be awarded was the Galley Slave Trophy, which goes to the cook in the last boat to finish. The idea behind this award, one of the oldest in the race’s history, is that cooks needed recognition, especially the one who works the longest. The last-to-St. David’s boat this year was Double-Handed entry Whisper, a 48-footer.
Whisper’s two crew members, Thomas Vander Salm and John Browning, declining to say who did the cooking, came to the podium as a pair, both wearing distinctive cook’s hats. Afterwards the sailors said they had kept a high standard–baking bread and ending their serious meals with scoops of the home-made ice cream they carried in Whisper’s freezer.
The 635-mile Newport Bermuda Race, starting on June 17, is the 50th edition and also marks the 90th anniversary of the partnership of the organizers, the Cruising Club of America and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
Leading up to the start, the fleet size looked to be the second or third largest in history. Then the weather forecasts began predicting gales in and below the Gulf Stream. Following the weather briefing on Thursday night (June 16), boats began withdrawing from the race. Finally 47 boats that had entered decided not to race. That brought the total from 184 boats on June 13 to 142 starters on June 17.
There are seven divisions, each for a type of boat. The race has no overall winner (only division winners), though the winning St. David’s Lighthouse Division boat (the largest in the race, and a division dedicated to amateur sailors) is regarded as the race’s top boat.
• St. David’s Lighthouse Division, for normal multi-purpose cruising-racing boats sailed by amateur or mostly amateur crews. This division is the largest at approximately 100 boats. There are limits on the number of professional sailors in these boats, and only amateurs are allowed to steer.
• Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division, for all-out racing, lightweight, high-performance boats often sailed by professional crews, who may steer. Ten to 15 boats usually enter this division.
• Cruiser Division, for boats that normally cruise, not race, sailed by mostly amateur crews, with only amateur helmsmen. The division usually has about 30 boats.
• Double-Handed Division, for boats sailed by two sailors. Approximately 20 boats usually sail in this division. One crew may be a professional and steer.
• Open Division, for racing boats with cant keels, which tilt from side to side. About five boats usually sail in this division. There is no limit on professionals.
• Spirit of Tradition, for traditional boats, most recently the Bermuda Sloop replica Spirit of Bermuda. No limit on professionals.
• Super Yacht Division. No limit on professionals.
Source: Report by Talbot Wilson, Newport Bermuda Race. Photos by Barry Pickthall/PPL.