By: Scott Cook


Twitter: @JScottCook

NEWPORT, R.I. (WLNE) -- 171 boats and over 1500 sailors departed from Newport Friday afternoon on the 635 nautical mile trek to the island of Bermuda.

Hundreds of people gathered at castle hill light for an optimal view of the start of the race.

"It's very exciting,” said Frances Russell, whose son is competing in the race. “The weather is a side-point, we're here for the fun and to watch the sailors."

The race is a challenging one. Sailors say it takes the larger boats 3 to 5 days to land in Bermuda, while smaller boats can take up to a week.

"The navigator is going to have the toughest job on finding where to cross the Gulf Stream," said Tom Haut, who has competed in the race 4 times.

"You can get half way to Bermuda and get a storm or you can have no wind at all and drift around for 3 days,” added another former competitor, Alan Prior.

There are 7 different classes of boats competing. The smallest boat measures 32 feet, while the largest is nearly 4 times that size.

 Sailors and spectators alike were in awe of the sight of nearly 200 boats in the harbor.

"This is the event, it's the moment it all comes together,” explained Tom Haut. “It's the start of the race, what could be better?"

And despite a little rain and hardly any wind, all boats had vanished into the horizon, about an hour after the first gun.

(C) WLNE/ABC 6 2018