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Bound for blue water

More than 200 boats will set sail today just off Castle Hill Lighthouse between Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound as participants in this year’s Newport Bermuda Race, the oldest racing event for amateur sailors, according to a race press release.

The contest, which has been held every two years since 1936, encompasses 635 ocean miles and lasts for three to six days. The boats are organized into five divisions to allow for a diverse number of competitors, and they sail through the Gulf Stream bound for St. David’s Head in Bermuda, where the awards are given, according to the Web Site

Despite the large number of competitors, race organizers strive to keep everything low-key, but professional, focusing on safety aspects and a responsive race organization system in cooperation with the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Often a close-knit affair, the race noted 90 percent of the boats competing in 2006 had crews of friends and family members, according to the report.

Newport Bermuda Race is among the biggest race of its kind, alongside the Fastnet, Sydney-Hobart and Transpac.

— Elizabeth Ellis