Two famous replicas give Newport Bermuda Race glamour!

They will certainly be two of the most glamorous yachts in this year?s Newport Bermuda Race which started yesterday. Bermuda?s Spirit of Bermuda and America, a replica of arguably the most famous racing yacht in history, will be two of four boats in the Spirit of Tradition Division of the 50th edition of the Thrash to the Onion Patch. The other two yachts in the division will be the S & S 96 Altair and the schooner Farfarer. The three-masted schooner Spirit of Bermuda will be in its third Newport Bermuda Race. The original America put yachting on the map. It is why the most famous trophy in sailing is called the America?s Cup. In 2007 the America?s Cup Management (ACM) offered $500,000 for the replica America, built in 1995, to be brought to Spain where the race was being held. The America was invited to San Francisco in the summer of 2013 to represent the history of this great race for Oracle Team USA?s defence of the 34th America Cup. The yacht is 139 feet long and weighs 226,000 pounds. Its main mast is 105 feet high. The Spirit of Bermuda is a modern-built Bermuda sloop and is a replica of a Royal Navy sloop-of-war. The beautiful schooner came about after the Bermuda Sloop Foundation was founded in 1996 by Malcolm Kirkland, Alan Burland and Jay Kempe. During the next eight years, the foundation grew as donations were sought, and the design decided upon. Rockport Marine, in Rockport, Maine, was contracted to build the ship in 2004 and Spirit was completed in August, 2006, and sailed to Bermuda that October. Since then she has operated locally and internationally on sail training cruises. Two years ago in the Newport Bermuda Race, Spirit crossed the finish line off St David?s Lighthouse in an elapsed time of 132 hours, 59 minutes and 23 seconds. The triple-masted sloop was helmed at that time by captain Karen McDonald. This year Spirit will be helmed by Stuart Birnie. Chartering Spirit for the 2014 race was local businessman, Olympian and Bermuda Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Jim Butterfield who, despite the fickle breezes that made for a slow journey, had an absolute blast. After completing the 635-mile race Mr Butterfield said: ?It was really great.? He was sailing with his son Spencer and said: ?We knew from weather predictions going in that we would be in very light air ? and that is what happened. We were hoping for 25-30 knots of breeze because that is what Spirit of Bermuda needs to move her. We were constantly playing with the sails to get every little bit of wind and even if it was four knots we felt pretty darn good about that. We are all a bit tired because of the length of the journey and the watch system. But everyone had a really good time.? The America is now owned by Troy Sears? company Next Level Sailing, and sails around the world as an official licensed partner for the America?s Cup Tour. Associated Press writer Bernie Wilson wrote in April this year that sailor and businessman Mr Sears has headed out on an epic nautical road trip that might not end until he?s circled the globe with America. Mr Sears left America?s base in San Diego on April 12 on a tour that will take him to yacht clubs and races up and down the US East Coast and then to the Caribbean. His calendar is largely booked through the final race of the America?s Cup in late June 2017 in Bermuda. From there, he plans to head to Europe and points beyond. ?I?m hoping the tour will take me all the way around the world,? Mr Sears said. ?If I go all the way around the world, I?d end up in San Diego.? At the very least, it?ll be a voyage of a lifetime for Mr Sears, 53, whose company has operated America?s Cup boats for charters and whale watching trips since 2003. ?This is the only time in my life I will be doing it,? he said. ?If you only go once in your life, you want to touch as many clubs and organisations as possible.? Mr Sears, an America?s Cup aficionado who has had a relationship with two-time defending cup champion Oracle Team USA, visited 34 yacht clubs with America on a US West Coast tour in the fall of 2015. The purpose of the tours is to generate awareness of the 35th defence of the America?s Cup. While the cup is still held by San Francisco?s Golden Gate Yacht Club, the racing will be in Bermuda. America is scheduled to make more than 100 stops along the US East and Gulf coasts between May 7 and just before Thanksgiving this year. Mr Sears? 2016 schedule will end with a stop at the Ernest Hemingway Marina in Havana. Then it?s on to the Caribbean and finally Bermuda for the America?s Cup in 2017. ?I have come to learn there is a millennial generation which does not know about the event at all, and a baby-boomer generation that has a huge variety of emotions,? Mr Sears said. ?They range from being super excited about the catamarans that are used today, to wanting to see the cup remain exactly the way it?s been since they?ve been alive. They love the boats that have been sailed in the cup, the monohulls, since World War II.? The original America was built to showcase the superiority of American naval architecture at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851. It beat a fleet of British ships around the Isle of Wight that year to win the trophy that became the America?s Cup. ?We have always maintained that living history with the boat,? Mr Sears said. ?We?ve never tried to be a classic tall ship. We have always conducted ourselves exactly the way we feel. We?re a racing boat. Just a replica of a 166-year-old racing boat, and we will be racing this summer.? The 50th edition of the Newport Bermuda Race could potentially be the third-largest race in the event?s 110-year history, with nearly 200 boats competing in six different divisions. This year?s Newport Bermuda Race also marks the 90th anniversary of the partnership between organisers Cruising Club of America and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Attempting to break the elapsed-time record of 38 hours and 39 minutes set by George David?s Rambler in 2012 is this year?s Sydney Hobart Race winner Comanche, a 100-foot supermaxi co-owned by American billionaire Jim Clark and former Australian supermodel Kristy Hinze-Clark. Meanwhile, those fans not lucky enough to be able to get to Newport for the start can watch all the action live on the race website Commentator Andy Green will deliver online commentary every morning and afternoon at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 5pm. Updates, weather forecasts, team strategic analysis, competitor insights and a look at overnight possibilities are the bill-of-fare.

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