What a spectacle! 198 yachts sailed across the starting line in Newport as hundreds of spectator boats lined the “sidelines”, the Coast Guard protected the racing area, people lined the cliffs and the lawn at the Inn at Castle Hill, and 5 helicopters flew overhead. See the photos of the sailboats beating their way away from Newport here.

With sixteen starts, it took two and a half hours to get every boat across the line, many of them a little overzealous. I couldn’t believe how many boats were called over early; in fact the PRO was making special announcements reminding people not to jump the gun. The ebbing tide didn’t help.

From a dinghy-bound photographer’s perspective, this was a challenge, and the helicopters were looking pretty cushy. We’ll see what happens between now and 2010’s Bermuda Race, but nothing beats the close up photos.

Allen got great action photos of most of the boats, including some great crew shots to commemorate the trip. We’re wondering…will they stay on the rail the entire time?? We’ve delivered a sailboat to Bermuda, but haven’t raced there yet.

It was time to call it a day for dinghy photographer man when he found himself 9 miles out, couldn’t feel his legs anymore and almost hit a shark. No joke. Only a six-footer or so, but that is half the length of the dinghy. Other than that, he could have stayed out twice as long. Engine was working well, still about 3/4 tank of gas remaining, gps working, plenty of spare water, life jacket and kill switch on.

We were pleased to see a bunch of Long Island Sound boats cross the line. Cabady, Christopher Dragon, Avra, Gold Digger, Devocean, Gracie, Stampede, Charlie V, Challenge IV, Vamp, High Noon, Patriot, Maxine, Snow Lion, and many more. Go Long Island Sound.

Best of luck to all 133 boats for a fast, safe trip. Speedboat is probably already there…