When the classic cannon booms over Charleston Harbor at noon Friday, May 29, it will signal the start of the seventh Charleston to Bermuda Race – a 777-mile romp due east from the Carolina Lowcountry to the distant isles of Bermuda. That blast will also signal the beginning of a marvelous offshore sailing adventure for crews on board the six vessels entered in this biennial race, among them the palmetto state’s own wooden tall ship, The Spirit of South Carolina.
The C2B, as this contest is known informally, was first held in 1997, and since then has served to further unite these two port communities. Charleston and Bermuda share a history steeped in maritime deeds, and both locations continue to play important roles in maritime commerce and culture as well as the sport of sailing. The C2B race exists in part as a celebration of this enduring bond. Affirming that connection, Bermuda’s Deputy Governor, Mark Capes, and the head of the Bermuda Tourism Board, E. Michael Jones, both traveled to Charleston for the start of the race. Also representing Bermuda are several officers from the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
What these dignitaries will witness from the start line on Friday is a diverse fleet of sailing craft ranging in size from 41 to 140 feet, with both cruising and racing designs that hail from homeports as distant as Newport, R.I.; Lake Kegonsa, Wisc.; and Houston, Texas. The best location for viewing the start of the race is the south dock of the Charleston Maritime Center.
Though the action on the starting line is apt to be highly competitive, that’s the exception more than the rule in this race. In every edition of the event since its inception, the organizers have placed a decided emphasis on fun and safety, rather than cutthroat competition.
“This event has always been about the enjoyment and challenge of going to sea, rather than about winning or losing,” explained Brad Van Liew, Executive Director of the South Carolina Maritime Foundation, which owns and manages the race. “It offers challenging navigation because you have to contend with the Gulf Stream and our transitional weather, but it’s also very satisfying because you end up in one of the most splendid islands in the world.”
The first finishers are expected to reach Bermuda by the middle of next week. A gala awards celebration for the competitors and their supporters is scheduled to take place at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club on Saturday, June 6. Anyone interested in following the progress of the C2B fleet can track the boats by logging on to the event’s website (www.charlestontobermuda.com) and clicking on the iboattrack.com link. Daily updates will also be posted on the website.
The Charleston to Bermuda Race is sponsored by Bermuda Tourism, Gosling’s Rum, the Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel, and Bauer International. The event receives vital support from The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. The race is open to every seaworthy boat 30 feet and longer.
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