RWU Student to Compete in First Part of The Ocean Race

Carlos Bermudez de Castro joins Viva México in Alicante, Spain, leg of international sailing competition

Nicholas Gendreau
Two students navigate a small sailboat during sailing practice.
Carlos Bermudez de Castro sailing in Mt. Hope Bay with Carly Kiss during a practice session on Sept. 16, 2022. Photo taken by Rob Migliaccio.

Alicante, Spain – Carlos Bermudez de Castro, a freshman on the Roger Williams University sailing team, grew up watching his father compete and win in The Ocean Race, an arduous five-month, round-the-world race. But now he gets a chance to make his own history as the first RWU student-athlete to set sail in the legendary international competition.

Recent changes to competition regulations expanded the race participation to youth sailors, making Carlos eligible to compete in this year’s The Ocean Race – and to be one of only a few 18-year-olds to ever sail in the race.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Carlos, who has watched his father, Roberto “Chuny” Bermúdez de Castro, compete in the race five times in his lifetime. “I have learned almost everything about sailing from my father.”

What’s more, as part of team Viva México, Carlos, who resides in La Coruña, Spain, will crew alongside his father, a veteran sailor who has completed the race seven times and won it twice. “I am learning as much as I can from not only my father, but the rest of the crew as well,” Carlos said.

The seven-leg race spans 32,000 nautical miles and is held every four years, with the last competition occurring in 2017-18. It begins on Sunday, Jan. 15 in Alicante, Spain, and make stops in Cabo Verde, West Africa; Cape Town, South Africa; Itajaí, Brazil, Newport, R.I., Aarhus, Denmark; The Hauge, Netherlands, and a final stop in Genova, Italy.

RWU’s strategic focus on the blue economy and sustainable coastal futures recognizes the important role that sport and recreational sailing play in the blue economy globally and especially in our coastal region. An international sailing event such as The Ocean Race brings together friendly competitors from across the world and holds events in many countries, benefiting economies around the globe, bolstering international relations and raising awareness for ocean sustainability.

According to a 2018 analysis, The Ocean Race contributed an estimated 96 million euros to Spain’s GDP while also providing an extra 1,700 jobs in the country. In Newport, R.I., one of the locations for the race, a 2015 report estimated it brought $11,452,303 in total spending from out-of-state U.S. residents and another $3,233,067 from international populations – comparable to or greater than the Newport Folk & Jazz Festivals, or the X Games and World Series.

The Bermudez family has a tremendous tie to The Ocean Race with “Chuny” appearing in races for numerous teams and campaigns. But this year is special as the father-son duo will compete together during the opening leg of the race, when it kicks off on Sunday, Jan. 15. Following that leg, Carlos will depart from the competition and resume his studies and spot on the RWU Sailing team for the spring semester. 

The young sailor is currently a freshman business major and has competed in seven events with RWU Sailing over the fall semester, helping guide the Hawks to a second-place finish in the Moody Trophy back in October as well as the Sister Esther Open, where he partnered with Carly Kiss (Pewaukee, Wis.) serving as the skipper for the events.

In his competition with Viva México, the team is led by skipper Erik Brockmann who is leading the VO65 Sprint Cup team. Viva México is one of six teams participating in the event in the VO65 Sprint. In this class, the boats are constructed identically, with the results of the race relying on the ability of the crews.

The opening leg of the event is set to begin on Sunday, Jan. 15, with a distance of 1,900 nautical miles sailing from Alicante to Cabo Verde. The leg is estimated to take three to four days to complete.

Update on Jan. 18, 2023 at 11 a.m.: In the first day of sailing, Viva México suffered a torn mainsail and had to head to shore for repairs, according to The Ocean Race officials. The team was able to rejoin the race on the morning of Jan. 18, after replacing their mainsail, and are sprinting to make up for lost time; according to The Ocean Race, team Viva México are more than 550 miles behind the rest of the V065 fleet and are in sixth place currently.

Watch the race via live feed here: