Sailing with granddad: Frederick W. Deichmann, BROC member in charge of participation, is pictured here with grandson Will. *Photo supplied
Sailing with granddad: Frederick W. Deichmann, BROC member in charge of participation, is pictured here with grandson Will. *Photo supplied

Not everyone who registers for the Newport-Bermuda Race makes it to the starting line, according to Frederick W. Deichmann.

As the 2012 Bermuda Race Organizing Committee (BROC) Participation Chairman, Mr Deichmann had noted in April that 176 boats were being processed.

And then on May 22, Mr Deichmann said: “We’ve had the usual attrition. At present we have 168 boats in the race.”

Although the committee had hoped for an end number that would meet or exceed 2010’s 183 boats, the registration deadline had passed.

The preparations and inspections continued.

Among the racing boats, 98 were in the ‘amateur’ St David’s Lighthouse Division and 15 in the ‘professional’ Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse Division. Thirty-one were in the Cruiser Division, 19 in the Double-Handed and five in the Open Division.

A new division, the ‘Spirit of Tradition’ had been added, taking the total number of racing boats to 169.

Newcomers to the Bermuda Race included 49 new boats and a guesstimated 40 first-time skippers. The numbers were skewed by new-to-the-race skippers in command of veteran boats and new boats captained by Bermuda Race-experienced skippers.

Thirty of the estimated 40 first-time skippers requested the assistance of a Race Ambassador, according to Mr Deichmann. The programme, initiated in 2010, proved helpful to those who provided feedback, but without a formal survey, its effect on incentive to join the race could not be measured.

Thirty-three experienced Newport-Bermuda racers, or 10 more than in 2010, volunteered to serve as Ambassadors. All are members of the Cruising Club of America (CCA); some also belong to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC).

Richard C. Holliday, who is in charge of the Ambassador Programme said: “As regulations and procedures become more complex, it becomes more important to help first-timers understand and deal with the requirements.”

Mr Deichmann agreed.

“The entry process can be a bit overwhelming to a first-time participant,” he said. “Our Ambassadors’ responsibility is to provide the advice they need to get them over the rough spots.”

Mr Deichmann noted the long-standing informal mentoring of newcomers by experienced Bermuda racers and said: “The Ambassador Programme formalized that practice and enabled us to advertise its availability to all first-time participants.”

Mr Holliday said: “I think it has been useful in enough cases to make it a permanent part of our Organizing Committee’s activity.

“I would not suggest it be mandatory for first-timers, as some clearly don’t need that service. Some skippers are inclined by nature to tackle the rules and requirements without assistance. Others have a lot of relevant ocean racing or even offshore cruising experience and are quite comfortable being self-guided.”

According to Mr Holliday, those skippers who choose to work with a Race Ambassador can facilitate the process by carefully examining all the ISAF, OSR and Bermuda Race special requirements, as well as the race website material, including measurement and rating information.

They can compile a list of questions in areas needing guidance to allow the Race Ambassador to focus on specific concerns.

Mr Holliday said: “Bringing new sailors to the race keeps it fresh and vibrant for all. We believe the programme helps to do that… As the Ambassador coordinator, I appreciate every one of those salty, generous race veterans who offer to help their competition get started.”