The Newport of my youth was a working waterfront. fishing boats, commercial boats and yachts co-existing side by side in the same water and the same docks.

Today, the is not a shred of evidence of this life.


“Guinevere” an Alan Gurney design for George Moffett was launched in the spring of 1966 at Jackobson’s yacht yard in Oyster Bay, NY. I sailed my first Bermuda Race aboard her and again in 1968 another Bermuda Race and the Transatlantic race to Germany; the longest race I have ever sailed (24 days); finishing in Travemunde, Germany at the bottom of the Baltic.
George was a wonderful man and a fine helmsman.
Like any long race there are so many wonderful stories; which at this point in my life I have accumulated a few.


June 25, 2014

All Possible Assistance: A Classic Escorts a Competitor to Safety



Black Watch is hard to slow down, but she had to do it during her unusual assignment in the 2014 Bermuda Race. (Daniel Forster/PPL)

By John Rousmaniere and Chris Museler

Hamilton, Bermuda, June 25.  With their big fleets, Newport Bermuda Races usually have a few retirements. This year is no exception, with 10 teams dropping out mostly due to relatively small but nagging gear failures, constraints on the crew’s schedule, or (to quote one competitor) “lack of forward progress.”  But also this year, a threat of  serious damage led to an extraordinary response.

Halfway into the race, the bottom bearing of the rudder broke on the Taylor 41 Wandrian, a Class 3 entry hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and sailed by Bill Tucker and eight other Canadian sailors. Tucker put a secondary “dam” in place to hold out the water.  The crew cut out the bottom of a bailing bucket, split the remaining bucket in two, secured the two pieces around the rudder post with 4200 adhesive, finished off the dam with silicone to fill remaining the cracks and holes—and crossed their fingers. The fiberglass tube holding the post might well shake so badly that it would crack wide open.

Taylor succinctly described the danger after the boat pulled up to the RBYC pier on Wednesday morning: “Our challenge was this: if the rudder post broke, we’d have a 6-inch hole in the bottom of the boat.” All this 300 miles from the nearest shore.


Deciding to continue on to Bermuda and request assistance from another vessel, Tucker made calls over VHF radio at 12:30 p.m. EDT this past Sunday, June 22.  Due to a weak connection, the transmission was not ideal, but his message was heard by Rocket Science, a Class 4 entry owned and sailed by Rick Oricchio.  He then established a radio watch to check in regularly with Wandrian, and got in touch with the race’s Fleet Communications Office. Based in a room in the New York Yacht Club in Newport, and chaired by Newport Bermuda Race Communications Officer Chris McNally, the FCO maintains a continuous 24-hour watch on the race until after the last boat finishes, using radio and  the race tracker.


Her details epitomize integrity. (John Rousmaniere)

As the FCO learned of Wandrian’s problems on Sunday afternoon, so did the crews of two other boats less than 5 miles away. They happened to be two classic wooden yachts designed by Sparkman & Stephens:  the 68-foot 1938 yawl Black Watch, commanded by John Melvin; and the 52-foot 1930 yawl Dorade, whose owner and skipper is Matt Brooks.

Black Watch’s afterguard—Melvin, navigator Peter Rugg, and watch captains Lars Forsberg and Jamie Cummiskey—decided that their larger vessel was best qualified to stand by and escort Wandrian to Bermuda. “If the boat has to be evacuated and someone else needs to take eight or nine people aboard, we should be there,” Rugg later explained. “This is the stuff that’s important to the sport.” Added Melvin, “Dorade came over when we came over, and we decided we were the better platform to take people off.” The decision to render all possible assistance to another vessel in difficulty came easily for Melvin, who well understood Wandrian’s situation: “I sailed a little Concordia yawl for a long time and I know what it’s like to have everybody pass you and leave you alone.”

Dorade continued racing while her big cousin began the voyage in her new role as Wandrian’s shadow.  The two crews engaged in hourly radio communications, with regular reports to the race Fleet Communications Office. Meanwhile, Black Watch’s sailors wrestled with an unfamiliar seamanship problem: how to sail slowly enough to shepherd a smaller boat. “In a good breeze, we can easily do 9 knots, even in rough water,” Rugg said after they reached Bermuda. “We spent a lot of time figuring out how to sail near her. We kept putting sails up and taking them down.”


Back from the sea, Wandrian is also back to normal as she waits to be hauled in Bermuda. (Chris Museler)

Experimenting with sail combinations, they settled on a full or reefed mainsail, the mizzen, and a forestaysail that could be trimmed to windward to slow the boat by heaving-to.  The crew also employed the abrupt slowing maneuver called the “Crazy Ivan,” made famous by the film The Hunt for Red October.  In the frequent calms, the two boats doused headsails and turned on engines. The sight of two such different sailing yachts powering side by side so far out in the ocean befuddled their competitors.

This shepherd-and-sheep relationship continued until the two boats neared St. David’s Head in the early hours of Wednesday and Black Watch sailed across the finish line at 2:22 a.m. Wednesday morning, nearly two and a half days after her crew volunteered for this remarkable assignment.

Later on Wednesday, as Wandrian was being prepared to be hauled out for repairs, Tucker paused to point to Black Watch and declare, “They were our insurance policy.”




The 1966 Bermuda Race was my first. The boat(“Gunievere” belonging to George Moffett, designed by Alan Guerney) on which I sailed is shown very briefly tied to the dock at Port O’ Call (now Bannister’s Wharf). We were never out of sight of our nearest competitor: Thor Ramsing’s “Solution”; finishing within a minute of one another.
I was working for John Nicholas Brown on his boat in Newport. He had given me the time off to do the race. I always considered that it was very generous of him because he did not use his own boat while I was away. I sailed another Bermuda race with “Guinevere” and a Transatlantic Race.




Brewer Pilots Point Marina, Westbrook, CT September 7, 2013

Registration – Coffee and pastries provided

It’s Not as Complicated as it Seems! – Rives Potts and Michael Keyworth

Planning for a Successful Bermuda Race: Entering and qualifying for the race, optimizing the boat, selecting crew, provisioning, sailing fast, having fun, what to expect on arrival, where to stay and keep the boat, getting back to the mainland afterward.

Entering the Race and Navigating the Paperwork – Bjorn Johnson

The entry process and where to turn if you run into problems. The race’s updated website and online entry offers a more intuitive and less stressful means of data submission and tracking your progress through the entry system.

Preparing for Inspection – Michael Keyworth

Inspection doesn’t have to be intimidating and time-consuming. Michael will walk through a typical inspection and point out tips for making it quick and painless.

Race Strategy: Navigation, the Gulf Stream and Weather – Bill Biewenga

Strategy on the 635-mile course: weather scenarios, tactics for using the Gulf Stream, navigating the 300+ miles south of the Stream, and electronic packages for various budgets.

Lunch and Boat Visits – Rives Potts and other skippers

Come on board Carina and other race-ready boats and query their captains and crews. A box lunch will be provided.

Optimizing Your Boat – Rives Potts, Butch Ulmer, Jack Orr, and Jim Teeters

How to make your boat fast and competitive while complying with race requirements (and not breaking the bank). Plus, rating optimization and sail selection.

When the Going Gets Tough – Kit Will and Michael Keyworth

Heavy-weather tactics and skills as well as spares and tools to have aboard – and how to use them in a pinch. Included in the talk will be several practical demonstrations, including cutting standing rigging, using an emergency tiller and controlling flooding.

A Safe Return Trip – Anne and Larry Glenn

The sail home can be as trying as the race down. Many serious safety related incidents occur on the return passage. Anne and Larry will review recent incidents and resources available to owners to help ensure the boat and crew arrive home safely.

Wrap Up

Q&A over Gosling’s new canned and complete Dark & Stormies. Speakers, members of the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee, Race Inspectors, and Brewer staff will be available.

Brewer is the Official Race Preparation Resource for the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race



Brewer Pilots Point Marina, Westbrook, CT September 7, 2013

Rives Potts – Owner-skipper of the two-time Saint David’s Lighthouse Division winner Carina and President and COO of Brewer Yacht Yard Group. Rives has sailed in 5 America’s Cup campaigns, 15 SORC’s, and multiple transatlantic and transpacific races. Rives is currently serving as Vice Commodore of the New York Yacht Club. (23 Bermuda Races)

Michael Keyworth – Long time Bermuda Race Inspector and General Manager of Brewer Cove Haven Marina (Barrington, RI). Michael has extensive ocean racing experience, including setting a course record in the 1985 Fastnet Race aboard the maxi Nirvana, participation in the SORC, Skagerrak (Norway), Marblehead-Halifax, Miami-Jamaica, and New England Solo-Twin races. (13 Bermuda Races)

Bjorn Johnson – Former Newport Bermuda Race Chief Inspector and Race Chairman, Bjorn has close to 80,000 nm sailing experience, much of it short- and single-handed. He has competed in Newport Bermuda Races, Bermuda One- Two’s, and Marion Bermuda Races. Bjorn is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Offshore Racing Association. (21 Bermuda Races)

Bill Biewenga – Offshore sailor with over 400,000 miles, Bill has raced and delivered boats in every ocean of the world. With 39 trans-Atlantic crossings and more than 60 passages to and from the Caribbean, Bill has been listed multiple times in the Guinness Book of Records for a variety of speed records. As the former owner of a highly regarded weather routing company, he has helped to guide sailors around the world, has published over 400 magazine articles, and written “Weather for Sailors,” a guide to understanding and using weather in sailing. (Number of Bermuda Race Sailed – “I’ve lost track”)

Jack Orr – Jack has been a Sailmaker at North Sails since 1988. During that time, he has been involved in the evolution of sail manufacturing from rolling out cloth on the floor and cutting it by hand, to the latest high tech processes. Jack is an experienced offshore sailor, having sailed in three Bermuda races, two Fastnet races, and a Transatlantic race. (3 Bermuda Races)

Brewer is the Official Race Preparation Resource for the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race




Brewer Pilots Point Marina, Westbrook, CT September 7, 2013

Butch Ulmer – President, UK Sailmakers NY. Butch is a highly accomplished ocean sailor and racer. His accomplishments include 17 Bermuda Races, 8 Annapolis to Newport Races, 18 SORC’s, and 7 Marblehead to Halifax Races. Butch is a member of the Intercollegiate Sailing Hall of Fame and has won National Championships in the International Tempest and Mobjack classes.

(17 Bermuda Races)

Jim Teeters – Associate Offshore Director at US Sailing, Developer of the Offshore Racing Rule (ORR), and Member of the Technical Committee of the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee. Jim has worked for five separate America’s Cup campaigns as well as for Langan Design Partners and Sparkman and Stephens.

Kit Will – Kit has sailed numerous ocean races, including Bermuda Races, Transpacs, the Middle Sea Race, and the Sydney-Hobart Race. As part of Roy Disney’s Morning Light Project, Kit sailed with some of the world’s top offshore sailors including Mike Sanderson and Stan Honey. Kit has over 35, 000 blue water miles including a 3 month delivery from Sydney to the USVI in 2012.

(4 Bermuda Races)

Anne and Larry Glenn – Anne Glenn is the Chair of the Cruising Club of America Safety at Sea Committee. She and her husband Larry grew up sailing and racing on Western Long Island Sound and have raced various one design classes together during their 50 years of marriage. Currently, they co-own their J- 44 Runaway, which they have cruised and raced extensively with their family. Larry has crossed the Gulf Stream 24 times and Anne 15. (Combined, 22 Bermuda Races and 17 return passages).


Liferaft and Survival Equipment, Inc. will be on hand throughout the day to consult with on safety gear potentially suitable for the race. In addition, LRSE will collect any of your safety gear needing service for transportation back to their shop in Tiverton, RI. All gear will be serviced and returned this fall so it is ready for the 2014 race.

PLEASE NOTE: The Brewer Race Preparation Seminar is not intended as a substitute for the U.S. Sailing sanctioned Safety at Sea events. No credit will be given to attendees of this seminar toward the Safety at Sea requirements.

Brewer is the Official Race Preparation Resource for the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race


The Restoration of Sinn Fein

When Hurricane Sandy devastated the Raritan Yacht Club boat yard in Perth Amboy, NJ on October 29, 2012, one of the many casualties was the Cal 40 Sinn Fein, two-time Newport to Bermuda champion. Declared a total loss by the insurance company, Pete Rebovich decided to buy the boat back and try to repair it for the 2014 Bermuda Race.

Why is the Cal 40, Sinn Fein so important to yacht racing?

Nearly 16,000 boats were built under the Cal brand name. There were many different models, but, without question, the most famous is the Cal 40. The forerunner of today’s ultra-light, production ocean racers, the Cal 40 was inspired by ocean racing legend, George Griffin, of the Los Angeles Yacht Club, and was purportedly first sketched by him in 1962 on the back of a cocktail napkin.

Following Griffin’s inspiration, the Cal 40 was designed by the prolific and ground-breaking naval architect, C. William “Bill” Lapworth and was lofted by Willis Boyd. A major undertaking for its time and radically different from other production racing sailboats with its fin keel separated from a spade rudder mounted well aft, the Cal 40 continues to rack up an impressive string of ocean racing victories more than four decades after its initial launch.

Peter Rebovich bought Sinn Fein in 1973, initially using it for local racing and cruising with his family. In the late 1970s, Pete got the offshore racing bug, competing in several Around Long Island races. He completed his first Marion to Bermuda Race in 1981. After winning the family trophy in that race in 1995, he moved from the cruising race to the Newport to Bermuda Race in 1997.

Overall, Sinn Fein has been to Bermuda and back 16 times. She won her class in 2002 and 2004. Then, in 2006, she won the St, David’s Lighthouse (amateur) Division of the centennial anniversary race – besting the largest fleet ever to compete in the “thrash to the onion patch.” In 2007, Sinn Fein became the first winner of the newly created Olin Stephens award for the boat with the best combined finishes in consecutive Newport to Bermuda and Marblehead to Halifax races.

Sinn Fein repeated her Bermuda Race victory in 2008, becoming only the second boat to win back-to-back races. She also won the inaugural North Rock Trophy for the overall winner of the combined amateur and professional divisions. Overall, she has won her class four times and the Stephens trophy a similar number of times. In 2010 and 2012, she was second in class (to another Cal 40, Belle Aurore). In both these races, she was in the top eight boats overall in fleets of more than 100 boats.

The boat has always been sailed by an all-amateur crew. No one on the crew receives paid travel or lodging. All of the crew are local sailors from Raritan Bay. The owner, Peter Rebovich is a retired school teacher from Metuchen, New Jersey. Now in his 70s, Pete suffers from a degenerative muscle disease in his legs that severely reduces his mobility. The boat has an especially supportive band of wives, girlfriends, former crew and sailing buddies who routinely travel to meet the boat, party, and help with deliveries to and from races. It is not hard to see why Sinn Fein has become a favorite with weekend sailors everywhere.

Click here for photos and description of her restoration progress.



Newport Bermuda Jury Penalizes Carina


By John Rousmaniere


NEWPORT, R.I., July 9, 2012- The International Jury for the 2012 Newport Bermuda Race has penalized the yacht Carina 15 minutes in elapsed time because a professional sailor briefly steered the boat during the race. The rules of the St. David’s Lighthouse Division in which Carina sailed (and which the boat won) require that only amateur sailors steer while racing.


The ruling does not affect the race standings. The penalty trims Carina’s margin over the second-place St. David’s Lighthouse boat, the U.S. Naval Academy’s Defiance, to 16 minutes, 22 seconds from 34 minutes, 34 seconds. Carina also remains winner of Class 3 under the IRC rule.


The International Jury made its decision after a hearing on Sunday, July 8, in which Carina’s owner and captain, Rives Potts (Westbrook, Conn.), participated. The Jury determined that Carina’s crew list as provided by Potts before the race listed all of the boat’s 12 crewmembers as Category 1 amateur sailors under the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) sailor classification code. The rules for the St. David’s Lighthouse Division permit a boat the size of Carina, a 48-foot sloop, to have as many as three professional sailors in the crew with the condition that none of them steer while the boat is racing.


One of Carina’s crew was Kit Will, whose ISAF Category 1 classification had expired in April 2010. Two days before the race start, Will applied to ISAF and was classified as a Category 3 professional sailor. (There is no Category 2 in the ISAF code.) Will did not inform Potts that he had been reclassified as a Category 3 until after Carina finished the race in Bermuda.  By then Carina had been presented with the Corinthian Trophy for top boat with an all-amateur crew. Potts returned the trophy to the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee, which runs the race for the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.


Potts filed a report with the International Jury in which he stated that Will had briefly steered Carina during the race. Potts requested that the Jury review the matter. “Mr. Will was aware that Category 3 competitors were not permitted to steer the yacht while racing,” the Jury stated in its decision. “During the race Mr. Will steered the boat on two occasions for brief periods amounting to several minutes.” The Jury imposed the 15-minute penalty.


While the Bermuda Race has no official overall winner, the top boat in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division is generally regarded as the winner because this is the largest division and features amateur sailors.


The members of the International Jury are Peter Shrubb (Bermuda) Chairman, Lynne Beal (Canada), Robert Duffy (Bermuda), Patricia O`Donnell (U.S.), and Arthur Wullschleger (U.S.)



For information about the Newport Bermuda Race® contact

John Rousmaniere: email  +1 646 573-2024

Talbot Wilson: email Tel: +1 970-453-8823

Mob: +1 850 217-7138

Race website:


PHOTOS available from PPL Photo Agency.

Tel +44(0)1243 555561 E.mail: Web:



Reading the recent article about the Onion Patch Series puzzled me because the description did not resemble any of the series I had sailed in the past. I participated on “Carina”, “Charisma”. The series in those days the series began with a race starting in Oyster Bay around Buzzards Bay light tower, around Block Island and then finishing at Castle Hill. Once in Newport we sailed three day races before starting the Bermuda Race. The race s were open to all participants but the teams were scored separately, just as the Admiral’s Cup had been sailed in the early days, before the beginning of the end when the Admiral’s Cup was excised from the crowds, but that is a subject for another day.

As I write, I wonder if we as sailors have been our own worst enemies.