Bermuda has long been a top destination for sailing with ideal weather and water conditions, deep connections with the international sailing community, major sailing events and fun activities both on and off the water. The island’s legacy of sailing goes back centuries, when Bermuda was founded by the survivors of the shipwrecked Sea Venture in 1609. These sailors invented the Bermuda rig, which is still used in 95% of all sailing yachts today.
Sailing Events & Yacht Races
Bermuda hosts a variety of major sailing events, including the oldest regularly scheduled ocean race: the Newport Bermuda Race. See the sailing race calendar or view a round-up of the island's major sailing races below.
The Big One: The 35th America’s Cup, presented by Louis Vuitton
For the 35th America's Cup, held in the summer of 2017, all teams competed in new AC62 catamarans powered by highly efficient wingsails and designed to fly above the water on foils at speeds near 50 mph. For all teams, racing began with the America’s Cup Qualifiers. The top challengers then went on to compete in the America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs and the right to race the defending team ORACLE TEAM USA in the America’s Cup Finals. View the race results and see favourite moments from America's Cup 2017.
Thrash to the Onion Patch: The Newport Bermuda Race
When the first Newport Bermuda Race took place in 1906, people said the participants were crazy. The 635 nautical miles between Newport, Rhode Island and Bermuda offer high winds and big waves – usually the kinds of things seamen do their best to avoid. But the challenge and thrills of the race have proven addictive to adventurous types.
The race is nicknamed "the thrash to the Onion Patch" because of those aforementioned high winds and big waves (a potent mix sailors call "a hard thrash"), and because of Bermuda’s onetime primary export: onions. To this day, Bermudians still refer to themselves as “onions.” Learn how this race was born.
The Epic: Annapolis Bermuda Ocean Race
If you’re going to attempt the Annapolis Bermuda Ocean Race, you’ve got to love the open sea. The race covers 753 miles, making it the longest ocean race on the East Coast of the U.S. The distance isn’t the only difficulty, however. Setting sail from Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay – known for its unpredictable winds and heavy shipping traffic – and traversing the swirling currents and wild weather of the Gulf Stream will test any crew’s mettle. Despite such challenges, the race is still open to first-timers, veterans and cruisers.
Celestial Sailing: Marion Bermuda Race
Boat racing can be a high-tech endeavour in the 21st century. But the biennial Marion Bermuda Race takes the sport back to its roots. Founded in 1977, the race challenges yachters to make the 645-mile journey from Buzzard Bay in Marion, Massachusetts to David’s Head in Bermuda using only the stars as their guide.
Though some sailors opt to use electronic tools these days, celestial navigation is what the race is best known for – it’s the only ocean race in North America that offers a celestial class.
Going For the Gold: The Argo Group Gold Cup
The Argo Group Gold Cup held in the Great Sound of Bermuda is a one-on-one duel of strategy and tactics. The winner takes home a coveted prize: The King Edward VII Gold Cup, the oldest match-racing trophy in the world for competition involving one-design yachts.