Sailing and Yachting
Bermuda has a worldwide reputation as a yacht-racing center. The sight of the racing fleet, with brightly colored spinnakers flying, is striking even if it's difficult to follow the intricacies of the race. The racing season runs from March to November. Most races are held on weekends in the Great Sound, and several classes of boats usually compete. You can watch from Spanish Point and along the Somerset shoreline. Anyone who wants to get a real sense of the action should be on board a boat near the racecourse. The Argo Gold Cup race is held in October, and International Race Week is held at the end of April or beginning of May. In June in alternating years, Bermuda serves as the finish point for oceangoing yachts in three major races starting in the United States. Bermuda also took the international spotlight as the host of the 35th America's Cup in June 2017.
Races and Events
Argo Group Gold Cup. This is the event of choice if you're more interested in racing than gawking at expensive yachts. Managed by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, the October tournament hosts many of the world's top sailors—some of whom are America's Cup skippers—and includes the elite among Bermudians in a lucrative chase for thousands in prize money. Join in the excitement as the-best-of-the-best compete in Hamilton Harbour. Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, 15 Point Pleasant Rd., Hamilton, Pembroke Parish, HM11. 441/295–2214; www.bermudagoldcup.com.
Bermuda Ocean Race. This 753-mile race routes competitors down the Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis, Maryland, across the Gulfstream, to the turquoise waters of Bermuda, taking place every other year in June, in even-numbered years. Whether you're a sailing aficionado or just enjoy a fine ocean breeze, be sure to take a stroll to see the hundreds of docked boats at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club after the event. Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club, 25 Pomander Rd., Hamilton, Pembroke Parish, PG05. 441/236--2250; www.bermudaoceanrace.com.
Marion (MA)-to-Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race. Only slightly smaller in scale than the Newport-to-Bermuda, this race is held in June of odd-numbered years. Competitors set sail from Marion, Massachusetts, race across the Atlantic, and arrive in Hamilton in just under five days. Contact the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club for information on where and when to watch finishers. Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club, 26 Pomander Rd., Paget Parish, PG05. 441/236–2250; www.marionbermuda.com.
Newport (Rl)-to-Bermuda Ocean Yacht Race. Powerhouse yachtsmen flock to this popular and prestigious event in June. The race takes place every two years, in even-numbered years. Even better than watching the finishers is the after-race party—it's open to the public and is always extremely well attended. Contact the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club for more information. Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, 15 Point Pleasant Rd., Hamilton, Pembroke Parish, HM DX. 241/295–2214; www.bermudarace.com.
Non-Mariners Race. Though not as prestigious as other Bermuda sailing yacht races, this annual race, which takes place in July or August on the Sunday of Cup Match weekend (the annual cricket holiday), is one of the highlights of the year. Held at the Sandys Boat Club at Mangrove Bay, the goal of this race is simple: to see whose boat (constructed on the beach minutes before) can make it out of the harbor without sinking. Easy to watch, as the boats never get very far from land, this race sets the stage for an afternoon of music, barbecue, local political satire, and merrymaking. Legend has it that someone even tried to float an old bus one year. Sandys Boat Club, 8 Mangrove Bay Rd., Mangrove Bay, Somerset, Sandys Parish, MA01. 441/234–2248; www.sandysboatclub.com.
Outfitters like Blue Hole Watersports and H2O Sports have a range of craft to rent and also offer lessons for beginners.
Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club. If you're a sailor, it's worth checking out this club, which is the main center for sailors in Hamilton (though it is technically in Paget Parish) and offers lessons both for beginners and those looking to up their skills. It's also the only "Royal" Dinghy Club in the world. If you know what you're doing and fancy taking part in some amateur racing, this is the place to be on a Wednesday evening between late April and mid-September. Just turn up at the dock from about 5:30 pm—skippers are always looking for willing crew members. There's also a club barbecue afterward and everyone is welcome. 25 Pomander Rd., Paget Parish, PG05. 441/236–2250; www.rhadc.bm. $200 for private 2-hour lesson.