By Fred Deichmann
Spirit of Bermuda enters Newport Bermuda Race in a Class of Her Own
The Bermuda Race Organizing Committee is pleased to announce that the Bermuda Sailing Foundation’s sail-training schooner Spirit of Bermuda will join the 2012 Newport Bermuda Race fleet, sailing in the new “Spirit of Tradition” Division. Her participation is expected to provide a demonstration of her sailing prowess in the spirit of the seafaring traditions of the Islands of Bermuda.
Because of Spirit of Bermuda’s three-mast schooner rig, she is unable to be fairly and officially rated for competition against the modern design boats that make up the rest of the fleet, and so will sail in a class by herself. Her “Spirit of Tradition” Division will highlight both her traditional design and the prevalence of the schooner rig in yachts racing in the early years of the Newport Bermuda Race.
Spirit of Bermuda is a purpose-built sail-training vessel owned by the Bermuda Sailing Foundation (www.bermudasloop.org) and based on civilian Bermudian-type schooners built in Bermuda by blacks and whites between 1810 and 1840. The original hull shape was adapted from the Bermuda-built Royal Navy “Shamrock” class: fast dispatch/patrol vessels that ran from the Royal Naval Dockyard northwest to Halifax and southwest to Jamaica to contain the rebel colonies.
In nearly six years of operation since September 2006, Spirit has provided a character development program based on experiential learning to over 2,600 young people and has sailed over 38,000 miles in overseas voyages to 17 ports in 10 countries.
Alan Burland, Chairman of the Bermuda Sailing Foundation, said, “The opportunity to participate in the Newport to Bermuda Race will help us to achieve our goal of providing experiences that instill Bermuda pride in our youth. We are honoured to be launching the new Spirit of Tradition Division.”
Spirit of Bermuda was designed by noted naval architect Bill Langan of Langan Design Associates of Newport, RI, built by Rockport Marine in Rockport, Maine and launched in 2006. Built to American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) standards and operating to United Kingdom regulations under the Bermuda flag, she is 86 feet on deck and 118 feet overall including her bowsprit, and displaces 230,000 lbs.
The “Spirit of Tradition” Division in the 2012 race is an invitational demonstration division developed to experiment with the re-introduction of traditional schooner rigged vessels to the Newport Bermuda Race. Whether this Division will be present in future races will depend on the experience of Spirit of Bermuda in 2012 and the likelihood of developing enough interest to provide competition and to warrant development of a suitable rating system for such vessels.