Meanders and Newport Bermuda Race

Published on June 14th, 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. Prior to the scratched June 19 start, Scuttlebutt is celebrating the race’s history by sharing the stories … here’s one from Gary Leduc:

I remember the 1984 Bermuda race well as I was a crewmember on the Swan 48 Pamir and we scored 1st in class, 1st in division, and 1st overall.

The start went well and the skipper Fran Curren told us our first waypoint would be 50 miles west of rumline where we would find a very deep southern meander. We found our entrance into that meander and were doing 13 knots SOG and 7 knots boat speed steering about due south.

We were getting headed as the breeze was shifting and we could see boats in front of us tacking onto starboard to head back towards rumline. So we joined them, however, we found that we lost 6 knots over the ground!

We made the choice to tack back into the meander and ride it south until we lost the kick in the butt. The only issue was that in order to get back to the east we would have to sail right over the top of a cold eddy. That would be the kiss of death.

Curren sat down and looked at our options and decided to hook into the western side of the cold eddy for another free ride. We were quite far west of rumline at that point but had no choice but to roll with what we had been dealt.

We were on port tack and sailing away from rumline, however, headers were coming through and it was looking like a windshift was in our future. As we sailed out the bottom of the cold eddy, we tacked and headed east, and 15 minutes after we tacked a huge shift starting lifting us.

The new breeze was a South Wester, made a sail change from a genoa to the Maxi Reacher and genny staysail. Before long the breeze was far enough aft to allow a kite with the pole on the headstay reaching with bright blue skies. When we tacked onto starboard we were 115 miles west of Bermuda. That was a huge corner we had just banged!

As we approached Bermuda we found ourselves in company of much larger boats, and that got us thinking we might be doing quite well. Upon finishing we motored around to Hamilton and arrived to find very few boats in the marina, and we all looked at each other and smiled. That day we found the leaderboard had Pamir sitting in 1st place. Needless to say my memory of the next day and half is non-existent.

I actually flew home before the awards ceremony which I regret doing to this day. Once Fran and Pamir arrived back in Jamestown he had a crew dinner at his house which was the first time I had a chance to see and hold the trophy.

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