Newport Race to employ ‘performance screen’
Organisers of the Newport to Bermuda Race have introduced a performance screen that will come into effect during next year’s 635-mile ocean crossing.
According to Race Chairman Fred Deichmann the purpose of the performance screen is to identify modern lightweight, high-performance boats with large sail plans for assignment to the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division and more traditional boats for assignment to the St. David’s Lighthouse Division.
“In the past, the division break was based on the nature of the crew,” he explained. “Boats with professional helmsmen must sail in Gibbs Hill and boats with amateur helmsmen may sail in either St. David’s or Gibbs Hill. That’s still the rule, but now that amateur crews are racing very high-performance boats, design characteristics will be taken into account so that like boats compete for the same trophies.”
The performance screen is calculated by dividing the boat’s Sail Area/Displacement Ratio by her Displacement/Length Ratio, using data from the ORR certificate that include both upwind and downwind sail areas. Boats from the 2012 Newport Bermuda Race fleet with low performance screens, approximately 0.10, include Swans, Cal 40s, and the McCurdy & Rhodes designs Carina and Selkie. The highest screen for the 2012 fleet, 2.33, is that of the Reichel/Pugh 90 Rambler.
Under the new performance screen rule, boats with screen values over 0.72 will be assigned to the Gibbs Hill Division and those with values under 0.48 to the St. David’s Division. Boats with screens in the middle, between 0.48 and 0.72, may choose which division to enter with the proviso that those choosing St. David’s abide by the restrictions on professionals for that division.
Had the performance screen been applied in 2012, five boats that sailed in the St. David’s Division would have been assigned to Gibbs Hill, including TransPac 52s, the Reichel/Pugh 65 Kodiak, and Decision, a Carkeek HP 40. In addition, five boats that sailed in Gibbs Hill would have sailed in St. David’s, including three Swans, a J120, and a J130. Three boats that fell into the middle area could opt for either division: Wazimo, Bombardino, and Snow Lion.
Performance screens will be printed on 2014 ORR certificates. The performance screens for the 2012 fleet will be posted on the Newport Bermuda Race website, www.BermudaRace.com.
Founded in 1906 as the first ocean race for amateur sailors in normal boats, the biennial Newport to Bermuda Race has inspired other long-distance races and attracted nearly 4,500 boats crewed by some 46,000 men and women who have raced nearly three million miles to Bermuda.
The race course is one of the most interesting and challenging ocean courses anywhere and depending on weather conditions the race can be won by big boats, small boats or boats in the middle of the fleet.
The race starts off Castle Hill, Newport, Rhode Island and finishes off St David's Head, Bermuda.