Stolen test and Newport Bermuda Race

Published on June 2nd, 2020

While the 52nd edition of the Newport Bermuda Race was cancelled in 2020, there remain 51 editions of memories that have come from this 635nm course. Scuttlebutt is celebrating this history by sharing these stories … here’s one from Peter Bauer:


As a senior in high school in 1974, I was unhappy that I would not be able to join my father George on the race that year. He and his friends had chartered the Mull 40 (or 42, memory is fading) Freebooter for what would have been an all farther/son tea, but I couldn’t go as I had to take the state-wide Regents math test (which I was definitely not looking forward to) a few days after the race start.

In an almost unbelievable stroke of luck for me and thousands of other kids, someone stole a copy of the test about a week before it was to be given which resulted in the state cancelling it. That’s some sailors luck right there.

So I was able to join the crew in Newport in the days prior to the race to prepare the boat for my first Bermuda race. I had to skip my graduation and the prom, but sailing was the priority.

One day while we were working on the boat who should stop by but Gary Mull and Tom Blackaller, wanting to have a look at Gary’s creation. Our family owned a Ranger 26 also designed by Mull, so he was a rock star to us as of course was Blackaller.

However, I was more than a little disappointed when they both agreed that we probably wouldn’t be competitive without a blast reacher which wasn’t included in the inventory of sails that most definitely had seen better days.

That prediction turn out to be accurate. We didn’t have a memorable result but it was a memorable race for sure. Pretty windy and a typical close reach on starboard. Perfect conditions for a blast reacher. But I got to do the race with my dad and share a beer with him and his best friends after the race while tied up in St George’s.

So instead of taking a dreaded test, I got to do my first blue water race. I’m lucky to be able to say that I’m not done yet.

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