Records look set to be smashed in this years race and winds on the Newport Bermuda course may send the fleet down the 635-mile course on a record-breaking blast reach to Bermuda.
"In the downwind conditions expected early in this race."
Dee SMITH, spokesman for the MORNING GLORY sailing Team said, "MORNING GLORY and PYEWACKET and WINDQUEST could easily make 500 mile days and could cover the 635-mile course in about 30 hours."
"With conditions similar to Newport Bermuda 2002, we would be in Bermuda in around thirty-six hours."
said Dee SMITH, speaking for the MORNING GLORY Sailing Team. "We'll have to wear our goggles through the Gulf Stream,"
Smith commented. "It's a real fast ride, but wet. The new MORNING GLORY z86 just did a delivery to the islands from Florida and covered 1200 miles in four days, sailing basically upwind with cruising sails."
RBYC Commodore Jane CORREIA added, "We've had to move the traditional organizing committee St. David's Lighthouse party from Sunday to Saturday afternoon. We're all on early flights to Bermuda."
Roy DISNEY'S PYEWACKET and Hasso PLATTNER'S MORNING GLORY, both new Reichel/Pugh designed canting-keel MaxZ86s, will face off in the new Big boat Demonstration Division with Rich and Doug DeVoss's R/P water-ballasted 86 Windquest for the classic Thrash to the Onion Patch. A smaller 75-foot PYEWACKET set the 'traditional' record for the Newport Bermuda Race in 2002 in an elapsed time of 53hrs 39min 22sec and the similar-size MORNING GLORY came third in 2002 on elapsed time.
Weather forecasters are predicting good winds on the 635-mile Newport Bermuda course with a front pushing through the area just south of Rhode Island that could bring a brisk southwesterly breeze shifting to Northeast with the passage of the front. The question of how fast the race will be should be determined by how far the boats can sail downwind before the wind shifts back to a southerly direction. The 44th biennial Newport to Bermuda Race starts off Castle Hill, Newport, RI this Friday, June 18, 2004.
Several of the big boats in IMS Racing and Cruiser/Racer should also be in Bermuda early if the conditions are right. Joe Dockery's RP 81 CARRERA, Tom Hill's RP 75 TITAN XII and Bob Towse's RP 66 BLUE YANKEE are all vying to be elapse time leaders in the Racing Division. In cruiser/Racers, Skip Sheldon's RP 65 ZARAFFA will be challenged by Lloyd Ecclestone's new Frers 94 KETURAH and by Bermudian Robert Mulderig's Farr 72 STARR TRAIL.
Going to Bermuda is like going home for MORNING GLORY's owner Hasso PLATTNER who has a house on the island. "We'd like to have a good race for him,"
Smith continued. "He's been close a few times, so we'd like to give him line honours in the first offshore test for the new boat."
Robbie HAINES, spokesman for PYEWACKET said the racing team feels that the Newport Bermuda Race in June 2004 will be an excellent first offshore race for the new boat. He said, "Roy (Disney) enjoyed breaking the record in 2002 (but not necessarily the race...kinda rough) and wants to come back to Newport and Bermuda to see old friends."
Traditional Newport Bermuda Divisions including two regular IMS and two AMERICAP divisions will continue to race for their elapse time "line honours" under the traditional 411s/m rating limit. The Big Boat group, Division 5, will race for its own prizes and its own line honors trophy.
The regular IMS Racing Division is open to boats with water ballast, but not cant keels. Entries in this division may not rate faster than 411s/m GPH based on the 2004 IMS Rule and may not exceed 30 meters LOA. The IMS Racing Division races for the Gibb's Hill Lighthouse Trophy.
The IMS Cruiser/Racer Division races for the traditional St. David's Lighthouse Trophy. IMS-C/R is for conventional designs, not including water ballast or cant keels, sailed by an amateur captain with a predominantly amateur crew. The 2004 IMS Regulations with US SAILING Prescription 104 limiting professionals will be applied.