Read: monohulls should compete for top prize

  • Comanche obliterated the Newport Bermuda Race record in 2016

Ken Read believes that modern-day monohulls should be allowed to compete for the biggest prize in the Newport Bermuda Race — the St David’s Lighthouse Trophy.

There is no overall winner in the 635-nautical-mile race, although the winning boat in the St David’s Lighthouse Division featuring amateur sailors is regarded as the race’s top boat, a division Read feels should be open to yachts such as the one he competed on that obliterated the race record two years ago.

“I would like to see modern monohulls like Comanche, and others who use canting keels, allowed into the primary racing division and not be placed in their own canting keel division,” said Read, who was the skipper of the 100-foot super-maxi Comanche that slashed nearly five hours off the previous race record in 2016.

“All of the other major yacht races in the world don’t put innovative monohulls in their own division. They are allowed to be rated fairly and be part of the core event. It’s time Bermuda Race did the same.”

Read and his team-mates smashed the previous race record of 39:39:18 — set by George David’s Rambler in 2012 — after completing the race in 34hr 42min 53sec.

“Comanche‘s run last race was nothing short of extraordinary,” Read said. “To break a record you need a great boat, great crew, and ideal weather conditions and fortunately we had all three.”

Comanche holds multiple monohull speed records and has also won line honours in the Sydney Hobart Race and Fastnet Race.

The yacht was sold to Australian Jim Cooney last December and renamed LDV Comanche.

“Comanche was built to break records, and to travel the world and to try to break records everywhere she went,” Read said. “Fortunately for the owner and for the team the boat did exactly that and lived up to lofty expectations and so it was time to move on and Comanche is now safe and secure in Australia with a new owner who is going to continue to race the boat very hard. A great story.”

The Newport Bermuda Race starts on June 15 in Newport, Rhode Island, and will feature 195 boats to compete for honours among eight divisions.

Significant changes have been made ahead of the race with the introduction of Multihulls, an Open Division and the addition of a new class in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse division.

The Multihull Division will feature boats ranging in size between 58 and 100 feet to be sailed by a crew no fewer than six.

The Open Division is open to yachts with vertical-lift foils that slide out horizontally from the hull and provide the boat with considerable lift and power. Other foil arrangements are allowed in the Open Division, but with some restrictions in place.

The Gibbs Hill Lighthouse division is also now allowing canting-keel and water-ballast boats that were previously placed in the Open Division.

“All major races in the world need to continually innovate and evolve with the times and the fact that the Bermuda race is letting multihulls into the race is an example of just that,” Read said.

The Newport Bermuda Race is organised by the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and is part of the three-race Onion Patch Series, which also includes the New York Yacht Club Annual Regatta and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Anniversary Regatta.