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Cloud-based routing not permitted

Published on March 10th, 2022

Entries for the biennial Newport Bermuda Race are nearly at the cap of 220 boats for the start on June 17, 2022. After the coronavirus pandemic cancelled the 2020 edition, this is great news for the 52nd running of the 635 nm race.

Participation is connected to cost, and with today’s navigation tools, limits are needed. Somers Kempe, Chairman of the 2022 Bermuda Race Organizing Committee, explains how the race tries to manage that variable:

The Notice of Race’s preamble says, “The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee very strongly encourages the designing, building, and preparation of seaworthy yachts sailed by self-sufficient crews proficient in navigation, seamanship, and environmental stewardship. This race will test and reward them.”

An important principle for our sport is RRS41, “a boat shall not receive help from any outside source.” Even as technology changes, race organizers continue to believe that good seamanship requires crews to be self-sufficient and be able to have the tools onboard to make navigational decisions racing to Bermuda.

A fundamental question is “Where do we want routing to be done, and by whom?” Our answer remains: “On the boat, and by the people on the boat.”

Thus, we believe it is essential that the crew of the boat have the routing tools available onboard, and that the crew of the boat make the route-selection tradeoff decisions taking into account weather, sea state, wind, safety, etc.

It doesn’t matter whether those routing answers are made with a pencil and chart, or by a computer algorithm on a laptop, the route decisions should be made onboard, and the tools to do this should be available onboard.

We believe this reflects good seamanship and that is why NoR 2.2(b) is written as it is. Having a cloud-based service providing routing doesn’t satisfy our fundamental question, and as such is considered outside assistance for the purposes of our race.

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