Out in the middle of the Gulf Stream, with no land in sight for more than 300 miles, the 38-foot yawl Tamerlane battles tumultuous seas as she prepares for the impending storm. At her helm is Thomas Fleming Day, the editor of Rudder Magazine, who had made it his mission to prove that offshore racing was possible for smaller boats and crews by running from Brooklyn, New York, to Bermuda alongside two other boats in 1906. One boat dropped out of the race early, but Tamerlane and the 28-foot Gauntlet both made it, arriving to much acclaim. Now, the 625-mile Newport Bermuda Race has run every other year since 1906, and though the starting point is no longer in Brooklyn, it was Day’s determination that enabled this longstanding tradition.
Artist Russ Kramer has made the run from Newport to Bermuda and back multiple times, as well as the 1,100-mile trip from Bermuda to Jamaica. Knowing firsthand how rough the Gulf Stream can get, he was impressed by Day’s courage. “I am more intrigued by the people on board and the telling of their stories than the vessel,” says Kramer, who started painting in 2000 after working in the newspaper and magazine advertising business.
For this painting, he built a model of Tamerlane so he could put her in different attitudes and identify which was most useful for conveying the vastness of the sea. “You’re out in the loneliness, and there’s an element of disquiet in it,” he says. “The storm rolling in is representative of more challenges to come.”
Kramer, who grew up boating on Long Island Sound, has owned a small collection of powerboats and lived for a few years on a 48-foot Hatteras in Florida. He now lives in Mystic, Connecticut, where he has a studio and gallery downtown on Main Street. He says this career is allowing him to live out his boyhood dream. “Some kids want to be astronauts or baseball players,” he says. “I wanted to be a marine artist.”
This article was originally published in the December 2021 issue.