Balmy ride to Bermuda

George David’s Rambler 88 led a breakaway pack home to take line honours in the 51st Newport Bermuda Race.

Written by Scott Alle

19 June 2018


Leaving most of the fleet far behind in light winds, Rambler 88 crossed the finish line off St. David’s Lighthouse, completing the 635-mile course in 50 hours, 31 minutes, 51 seconds.

“This race is typically a mid-sized boat race,” said David, “and rarely a big-boat race. But this time it was. It was almost like the ocean reached out and grabbed the smaller boats, one by one.

“It was a pretty benign race,” said Rambler 88 tactician Brad Butterworth, while he and the rest of the crew enjoyed a traditional Goslings Rum Dark ‘N’ Stormy after landing at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club dock. “There was no water on the deck—at least not back where we were,” he added. “Stan Honey gave us the right direction to head,” he added, “and we pushed it hard.”

This year’s time was more than half a day outside Comanche’s 2016 record of 34 hours, 42min 53, seconds. David set a new record in the 2012 race of 39:39:18 in his then Rambler, a 90-foot maxi.


This silver-hulled Rambler 88, launched in December 2014, adds the 2018 Newport Bermuda line honours crown to her 2017 Fastnet win, and her third on line in the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart. A Rolex Sydney Hobart line honours  victory remains the only trophy missing from the world’s three classic bluewater ocean races for the US based maxi.

The custom 88-foot Juan K design ran into some slow patches with light winds early in the race, but after sailing through the Gulf Stream on Saturday, maintained double-digit speeds the rest of the way and left the next-placed boats several hours behind. The winds weren’t strong during the race, but the seas were relatively smooth.

Rambler 88 crossed the line just before 6am local time and five fast race boats between 62 and 88 feet long were docked by late morning in Hamilton Harbour.

Thats where they waited to see if their smaller competitors would finish fast enough to displace them as the leaders when handicaps were applied.

In the Gibbs Hill Division, the Volvo Open 70 Wizard (former 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart winner Giacomo), holds the lead, having sailed the 635nm course in 55:37:02.

In the Multihull Division, the Gunboat 62 Elvis had finished in 63:25:32.

A diverse fleet of 169 boats with sailors representing 24 nations including Australia and New Zealand, took one of the great challenges in offshore racing, which could stretch out to six days for the smaller entries, and a large contingent of classic boats.

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