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24 February 2006, 03:39 pm
Huge Fleet Set For Bermuda Race Centenary
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Newport Bermuda Race 2006

A bumper fleet of more than 200 boats is expected to compete in this year's Newport Bermuda Race as one of the sailing world's top events celebrates its 100th birthday. Past winners, regular competitors and the odd VIP are expected to join the fleet for the special 635 mile ocean crossing which is set to deposit as many as 3,000 hungry and thirsty sailors on Bermuda's shores around 18 June.
The race will once again feature a range of boats from the very latest technological multi-million dollar masterpieces to more sedate and traditional cruisers and offers mostly amateur sailors the challenge of a tough ocean crossing set against an atmosphere of celebration and camaraderie.

'It's going to be special this year because of the anniversary,' said Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Elect Andrew COX.

'We are expecting an enormous fleet this time, probably more than 200 and the interest is unprecedented. Everyone is keen to have the rare opportunity to be involved with the race on its 100th anniversary and we are seeing plenty of interest from new boats as well as former entrants and our huge group of regulars.

'As this is the anniversary race there is going to be plenty happening both in Newport and in Bermuda in terms of festivities to mark the occasion and people want to be involved in that but people also want to be involved because this is a serious and challenging race, one of the world's premier ocean racing events.'

48th Edition

This will be the 46th edition of the ocean crossing which began in 1906 when three boats competed for the Lipton Cup, a silver trophy which has been found in the Mariner's Museum in Virginia and is expected to make a return to Bermuda for this year's race finish.

The first few years the race was an annual affair before switching to its biennial format which has continued - World Wars aside - ever since.

Excitement has built to such an extent that even with more than three months left to go, hotels are selling out in both Bermuda and Newport and all the berths at RYBC are already full - with an ever-expanding waiting list already up to 30.

The race, being backed by the Tourism Department, is expected to provide a shot in the arm for the sports tourism industry, with as many as 3,000 sailors, family and friends likely to descend on Bermuda for up to a week of events.

'This is sports tourism at its very best,' continued COX.

'We are working with the Department of Tourism who have generously supported this race for many years. From what I am hearing many hotels are already heavily booked and we expect this race to be one of the biggest tourism dollars earners for Bermuda.

'It is going to be a fabulous event from both a sporting and tourism perspective.'

New Technology

Other features of this race include using new iBoat technology to enable friends, family and the media to view the position of all the different boats in the fleet during the event.

The equipment, which features transponders aboard every vessel, was used during last year's Marion-Bermuda Race on a smaller scale and made the crossing significantly more spectator friendly as the position of each boat, plotted using GPS technology, was available via the internet.

A promotional DVD is also being produced, with cameras at both the start and finish as well as aboard at least four boats, with organizers currently working to secure the rights to broadcast the eventual programme on network television in the US and beyond.

In the 2004 event, Hasso PLATTNER's (GER) Morning Glory, racing in a new Demonstration Division, completed the race in an unprecedented 48 hours, 28 minutes and 31 seconds. The first official boat to cross was Jo DOCKERY's Carrera which finished in 67 hours, 15 minutes and 54 seconds.

Dan RUTSTEIN (As Amended By ISAF)
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