Race debut: Newport Bermuda Race mentee Greg Smith is new to the Bermuda Race, but not to ocean racing. *Photo supplied
Race debut: Newport Bermuda Race mentee Greg Smith is new to the Bermuda Race, but not to ocean racing. *Photo supplied

2012 marks the second Newport-Bermuda Race in which the Ambassadors programme has featured. The programme now officially pairs Bermuda Race veterans with first time participants.

“We look first for a geographical relationship,” said Richard C. Holliday, Ambassador Programme chairman. “Then, if possible, we look to see if there is a fit in terms of the boats being raced.”

Greg Smith and Jack Ives are newcomer skippers to the Newport-Bermuda Race, but each has previously sailed in the Marion-Bermuda Race.

Mr Smith, who has also competed in the Caribbean 1500 and Atlantic Cup, has been paired with veteran race ambassador John Winder.

Mr Ives, who crewed the Bermuda Race on a friend’s boat in 2002, has been assigned to new ambassador Mark Rice.

Race ambassador Winder said of Mr Smith: “He has been very organized… Most of his questions have had to do with the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations (OSRs), and we have each needed to reference the OSR book for clarification.”

Mr Smith noted: “The Marion race accepts a partial ORR certificate, while Newport-Bermuda requires a full certificate, so I have a new set of in-the-water measurements we need to do next month.”

“(John Winder) has helped me figure out how to get the stability test done, and also advised why it may be a good thing to do, since there have been lots of small changes to the boat (Chasseur) over the last 20 years that could affect the index.”

Mr Winder is also a race inspector. He said: “Being an inspector is a big help to being an ambassador. That way, all of the entry, measurement and inspection questions can be fielded by one person.”

He continued: “The Newport-Bermuda race has long been regarded as one of the most stringent offshore events.

“This starts with the fact that a good portion of the race is sailed out of reach of assistance by helicopter.

“You are on your own and, therefore, must be thoroughly prepared for any situation.

“While the standards and requirements sometimes seem daunting, most participants have thanked us for being so thorough on the safety end.”

Race Ambassador Mark Rice volunteered to serve through the Cruising Club of America. Jack Ives is his first mentee.

Having learned that Mr Ives had sailed two Marion Bermuda Races, Mr Rice knew that he was familiar with the ISAF Category 1 regulations and racecourse conditions.

“We discussed some of the new Newport-Bermuda requirements,” Mr Rice said.

Mr Ives noted:  “I have spoken to Mark early on in the process to get a sense of the things that I’ll need to pay attention to in preparing the boat (Grace). Each race, and race committee, is different and understanding the things at the forefront of the inspectors’ lists is important to me… Mark has been most helpful in keeping me focused on the calendar for preparing the boat.”

Mr Ives is committed to the Newport-Bermuda Race as a run up to the 2013 OSTAR race from Plymouth, England to Newport, RI.

He said:  “Having the mentor programme is really quite nice. It is comforting to know there is a specific person there whom I can call with questions as opposed to sending an e-mail off to a generic e-mail address and praying that it gets a response… Mark is as vested in my success as he is in his own.”