Hamilton, Bermuda (June 20, 2022) – A pair of Pac52 class boats, Christopher Sheehan’s Warrior Won and Jim Murray’s Callisto, renewed a heated rivalry in a race to the finish of the 52nd Newport Bermuda Race yesterday evening.
That the two raced in different divisions — Warrior Won’s Gibbs Hill Lighthouse division is more pro-oriented and Callisto’s lighthouse St. David’s, for amateurs — didn’t matter.
It was the third head-to-head between the crews in the past year, and they were within sight of the water, allowing each crew to gauge their performance against a well-known competitor. Trial and error is how racing programs progress.
Sheehan (Larchmont, New York), however, put another notch on his belt when Warrior Won emerged victorious, finishing at 02:10:34 ADT for an elapsed time of 56 hours, 43 minutes and 34 seconds and the honors of line in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division.
Murray’s Callisto (Lake Bluff, Ill.) wasn’t far behind, finishing at 2:55:01 for an elapsed time of 57:48:01 and line honors in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division.
Both teams finished third and fourth overall in this year’s Bermuda Race, and are now the interim leaders of the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse and St. David’s Lighthouse divisions, respectively. There are plenty more finishers to come, but this could be the year where the biggest and fastest boats do best.
“The Callisto program and Jim are great people,” said Sheehan, 56. “They pushed us hard in every race we entered. We are pushed to be as good as we are because they are as good as them.
Sheehan’s Warrior Won took overall and class honors in the Transpac race last year and the Caribbean 600 last February. In both races, Murray’s Callisto placed third in class and fifth overall.
“Chris and his team are setting offshore racing on fire,” said Murray, 49. “We’ve had the opportunity to race against them three times in the last year, and it’s great to race against them. They set the standard.
Moored next to each other at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Marina, members of both crews spoke of difficult conditions, which began before the race even started.
“I think it was an incredibly tough race,” Murray said. “The forecasts fell apart when the front crossed the starting line (June 17). It immediately became a downwind race. We chased the front all the way to Bermuda, so we had a confused sea state. The winds were up and down and quite choppy. It was a complete mix of everything you could get. It was a great race.”
“The pre-race forecasts made us jib all the way. It turned out on the day of departure that it would be downwind and we brought some spinnakers for that scenario,” said round the world sailor Stu Bannatyne of Warrior Won. “It was a tricky race at the end. Hard on the gear. Many boats suffered damage but we stayed the course. We pushed the boat hard; it was a great effort.
The Warrior Won crew duel Callisto in part because they had everyone on deck for the last 17 hours or so, from 09:00 yesterday until the finish.
“I think a key part of the race was the pressure all over the pitch,” Bannatyne said. “We had everyone on deck, pushing 110%. We watched tracker religiously on the last day and it made a difference. It was cool to do a downwind run to Bermuda.
Part of the St. David’s Lighthouse Division, Callisto’s crew numbered 10 amateurs and four professionals. The pros, however, are not allowed to helm the boat. Murray said they used six amateur coxswains who knew how to handle the boat, and the pros were excellent at coaching in very difficult conditions.
“Saturday night (June 18) we were going 20 knots and throwing waves,” Murray said. “They were only 3-4 feet, but quite steep and out of nowhere. And it was pitch dark. The crew tied in and kept the lead in the game. We were able to spend the evening and keep everyone present and focus on driving the boat to Bermuda.
Murray said they broke a major spinnaker due to the difficult conditions. Warrior Won also blew a similar sail.
“We lost a spinnaker, just because of the incredible sea state,” Murray said. “It was our A2+, our top-of-the-range spinnaker, so quite important. We used an A2 the rest of the race, but we had to nurse it. We recalled about 10%. Luckily the kite we had was really well made and held up until the finish.
The fleet approaches Bermuda
The bulk of the fleet is making good progress towards Bermuda, and more and more boats are starting to cross the finish line in front of St. David’s Lighthouse.
About 32 minutes after Callisto, the Reichel/Pugh 74 Wizard, chartered by Fred Detwiler (Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.) and Bruce Aikens (Birmingham, Mich.), finished fifth overall and second in the St. David’s Lighthouse Division.
Just over two hours later, Zygmund Beatty’s TP52 Hooligan (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) finished, followed by Dawn Riley (St. Clair Shores, Michigan) and crew aboard Oakcliff’s Maxi yacht OC86 Sailing, both in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division.
The winds were lighter on the course today, and the double digit speeds of many boats yesterday have dropped significantly. Nevertheless, several boats should finish this afternoon, others to come in the evening.
Event Information – Race Details – Entry List – Tracker
Race 52 of the Newport Bermuda Race, co-hosted by the Cruising Club of America (CCA) and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC), kicked off Friday, June 17, 2022 at the entrance to the East Passage of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. .
First held in 1906, the Bermuda Race is the oldest of the five major 600 nautical mile races and is preceded only by the Transatlantic Race. The 2022 fleet has 187 participants who will be divided into eight divisions: Double, Finisterre (for cruisers), Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, Multihull, Open, Spirit of Tradition, St. David’s Lighthouse and Superyacht.
The record in major divisions—St. David’s Lighthouse (limits on professional crew) and Gibbs Hill Lighthouse (no limits) – is 39 hours and 39 minutes, set by George David’s maxi yacht Rambler 90 in 2012, an average speed of 16 knots.