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Stage is set for Transatlantic Race

While the water views from anywhere along Rhode Island's Newport Harbor are already magnificent, they will be more so in late June and early July when 32 oceangoing yachts set sail in the Transatlantic Race 2011, which charts a course that stretches 2,975 nautical miles from Newport to Lizard Point, at the end of a peninsula in South Cornwall (UK).

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The fleet runs the gamut from sleek traditional designs, such as the 94-foot William Fife-designed Sumurun, to sophisticated superyachts, such as the 289-foot custom Perini Navi clipper sailing yacht Maltese Falcon, with three masts so tall (190 feet) they barely clear Newport's towering Pell Bridge, which serves as a gateway to Rhode Island's famous City by the Sea.

And as those who are veterans of ocean racing will attest, crossing the Atlantic Ocean is no small feat, especially when storms, testing seas and even icebergs (still a danger in the North Atlantic in June) are included in the mix of challenges encountered.

"What I find so incredible with open-ocean racing is that there are very few things that you can do these days that are the same as what people did 400 years ago," said Sumurun's owner Robert Towbin. "You have such a sense of history when you're out there and for a couple weeks you get to feel, in effect, the same way Columbus felt."

The event will be blogged live starting April 26 at