Fearlessly Embracing Challenges and Opportunities

Seven Lincoln students were the first all-female youth team to compete in the Newport Bermuda race in June! The ambitious group, known as Team Bitter End included Milla C. '23, Sophia C. '22, Callie D. '23, Gigi F. '24, Elizabeth G. '23, Phoebe L. '22, Olivia V. '24, and Sarah Wilme. They were on board with their two coaches, Libby Greenhalgh and Michaela Robinson. The group teamed up with Oakcliff Sailing, a nonprofit organization located in Oyster Bay, New York. The sailors were in training at Oakcliff in the weeks leading up to the race to ensure that they were prepared for every possible situation. Oakcliff Sailing is run by Dawn Riley, a member of the first all-female team to sail around the world. 

Their boat, Blue, is a Farr 40, a 40-foot monohull sailboat. Unlike the crew, this is not Blue’s first Bermuda Race. The Farr 40, a design that was first launched in Newport, RI, was designed by Bruce Farr, who was also the designer of Maiden, the boat to take the first all-female team around the world.

With a distance of 635 miles, the Newport Bermuda Race is the oldest regularly scheduled ocean race. Upon leaving Narragansett  Bay on June 17 the crew faced challenges right from the start. They had heard rumors of bad weather, and Wilme, who served as navigator for the trip, discovered their satellite phone was not able to connect to get real-time weather updates. Instead, they relied on their sailing and observation skills to adapt to weather conditions as they occurred. Along with poor weather, the women had to contend with additional equipment issues. On day three of the race, a gooseneck pin holding part of their mast in place came loose. The crew worked together to fix the problem and resumed sailing within two hours. On June 22, for days after the start, Team Bitter End arrived at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club to learn they had finished an astonishing 27th out of 188 boats. 

On the boat, each crew member worked a four-hour shift before rotating for two hours of standby watch and two hours of sleep. In between the grueling schedule and the adrenaline rush of competition were moments of calm when they experienced the beauty of being alone in the middle of the ocean. 

The sailors have talked about the ways in which the confidence that they have built at Lincoln helped them take on this remarkable endeavor. In an interview with WJAR, Olivia V., Class of ‘24 said, “I think if younger people see this they will also go after their dreams and do what they love.” Talk about leading by example! To be sure, this crew was living the mission to “fearlessly embrace the challenges and opportunities of citizenship in a complex world.”