Innovative scoring for race to Bermuda

Published on May 16th, 2021

The 2021 Spirit of Bermuda Charity Rally, a race from the USA to Bermuda and back will start on June 18 from two locations in international waters.

The race introduces a new and innovative format with the option of two starting lines set up on lines of latitude and longitude located in the Atlantic Ocean 12 miles south of the coast of Newport, Rhode Island and 20 miles east of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay at Chesapeake Light.

Participants can start from either location and finish at Mills Buoy close to the mouth of Government Cut in St George’s.

Participants are then welcome to continue sailing around the island and back to either the North or West Start/Finish Lines in the Rally From Bermuda or they can stop at Bermuda in St George’s Harbour.

Bermuda has recovered from its latest spike and is welcoming travelers by air or boat and the protocols are being updated. Testing as required will be available for the sailors when they arrive.

“Our organization is grateful to the planners of this rally and the support of the Bermuda government necessary to bring this nautical tourism event back to the island,” said Charles Jeffers II, Chief Executive Officer of the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

The Rally is comprised of two legs one “To Bermuda” and “From Bermuda” with a winner for each leg. There will be a scheduled start of the From Bermuda leg on June 27, but skippers may leave any time after arriving until July 1.

To manage the format which includes different courses, at different times, in different weather and score together as a single race, Sailing Yacht Research Foundation (SYRF) has synthesized many practices in offshore racing to develop the “SYRF Offshore Scoring” system which uses the predicted speed of each yacht (their polars) together with the actual wind observed by global weather models.

Every six hours, the weather services provide a NOWcast of wind conditions worldwide, and these are used to compute the best route (at 100% polar performance efficiency) and the optimum sailing time of each yacht. This optimum time is then divided into the yacht’s recorded sailing time, and the ratio is the yacht’s score.

With this approach, SYRF Offshore Scoring measures how efficiently each boat is sailed compared to the optimum route.

“In this way, boats are actually racing against their own potential to perform well in the actual weather they encounter on the race course,” explained Larry Rosenfeld, a noted offshore navigator, the Technical Director on the Board of SYRF and a principal organizer of the Spirit of Bermuda Charity Rally.

“We hope this innovation will open the way to other new formats for offshore racing where yachts may sail different course, times and weather and be scored together. Starting and finishing in offshore locations will also help with the accuracy of this method because it minimizes any land-based weather effects encountered closer inshore.”

“It is innovative thinking like this that can help fulfill the excitement and passion that offshore sailors have for going to sea,” said Stan Honey, Chairman of SYRF and world-renowned offshore navigator. “We’re really pleased to have this support from Bermuda to grow on the success of last year’s rally.”

The Rally is for the benefit of Bermuda Sloop Foundation (BSF) programs for youth on the sail training vessel Spirit of Bermuda. In addition to performance prizes, the yacht and crew that raise the most funds for Spirit of Bermuda’s Charity will receive special recognition.

Registration will open on May 19:

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