Marion Bermuda Race Start (Photo by Talbot Wilson)


By Talbot Wilson

Marion MA- June 9, 2017: Fifty boats are now hard on the wind in Buzzards Bay or just reaching the Atlantic Ocean. They are racing from Marion to Bermuda in the 40th Anniversary of the Marion Bermuda Race. This classic ocean race is always a challenge.

Paul Hubbard skipper of ‘Bermuda Oyster’ (435) the only Bermuda boat in this year’s race got off to one of the best starts of the day leading the 12 Class D entries over the line the second of four starts today.

Hubbard first did this race in 1987. He said, “ Our boat is in good shape. We had a few things break on the delivery up [sailing the 645 miles from Bermuda]. We got that sorted out at the boatyard here.  This year looks to be a good trip shaping up.”

Bermuda Oyster navigator Stephen Benn was primed for the trip at the Thursday night skipper’s briefing at Tabor Academy and the crew reception at the Beverly Yacht club in Marion. He said, “I’m into last minute prep – just looking at all the data I can, as always. The weather forecast looks good, other than the high pressure in Bermuda that promise slow going for the last 100 miles, as usual.”

“When we arrive,” he added, “It could be a bit of a parking lot out there maybe 100 miles from Bermuda. The Gulf Steam should be pretty straightforward this year. This will be more of a wind race than a current race.”

Hubbard has a crew of regulars aboard— Barbara and John Ashfield from the UK. Steve Musicant, Stephen Benn and Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club [RHADC]  Commodore Neil Redburn, and new crew member Scott Snyder from Denver, Colorado.

The race got off to a good on time start with a building southwesterly breeze that was about 8kts for the first start at 12:10 EDT for the slower Class D Boats. Winds built to a sunny 15kts by the time the fastest A Class boats got off at 12:55.

Only one boat, the Class C Morris 46 ‘Escapade II’ skippered by Tom Bowler pushed the line and was over early. He had to turn back to re-cross the line. That’s not a happy way to start a 645 nautical mile ocean race.

The scratch [fastest] boat ‘Jambi’, a new Hinckley Bermuda 50 skippered by John Levinson should reach Bermuda by late Monday but that depends on where they park and for how long on the sail to Bermuda.

All of the yachts carry YB Trackers and can be follow on
Race Blogs will also be posted on Boat Blogs.
Race news will be posted at Marion Bermuda Race

About the 2017 Marion Bermuda Race
The 2017 edition of this classic will see boats ranging from the smallest entry ‘Selkie’, G.J Bradish’s Morris Ocean 32.5 footer from Boston to the largest, the Hinckley SW 59 ‘Pescatore’ sailed by George Tougas of Mattapoisett, MA ‘Pescatore’ is a Youth Trophy team entry.

Nine of the boats, including ‘Selkie’ will sail in the Celestial Navigation Division. In its true Corinthian spirit, the Marion Bermuda Race is the only ocean race to Bermuda that offers a celestial navigation prize.

The Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club hosts the race in Bermuda. It is also home away from home for the America’s Cup defenders, the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco, and their defending team, Oracle Team USA. Actual racing in the America’s Cup Match start June 17 on Bermuda’s Great Sound, the afternoon of the Marion Bermuda Race prizegiving.

There are several special ‘trophy’ races within the Marion Bermuda Race.

The Kingman Yacht Center Team Trophy is offered for established Yacht Clubs or Sailing organizations that form a team of three member yachts. The team whose three yachts have the lowest corrected time total will be the winner.

Yachts sailing with a crew of two, a crew of three or four or an all-female crew of any number may compete in the double-handed, short-handed, and all-female competitions respectively. Prizes are the Double-Handed Trophy, the short-handed L. Bryon Kingery, Jr. Memorial Trophy and the Commodore Faith Paulsen Trophy for the ladies.

A “family” yacht racing for the Beverly Family Trophy is one with a crew of five or more with all or all-but-one being members of a single household or a single family may race for the family prize. Persons related to a common grandparent and spouses of these “family”, too.

The Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy encourages youth participation. A “youth” yacht is one with at least 4four youths aboard with at least 66% of the crew qualified as youths. A youth sailor must be 16 years of age or older but not more than 23 years old by June 8, 2017. One or more adults at least 23 years old by June 8, 2017 must be onboard.

The Beverly Yacht Club Polaris Trophy is a prize for stargazers. If a yacht has elected to be celestially navigated, she will receive a 3% favorable adjustment to her ORR rating.

While Marion Bermuda Racers are in Bermuda, the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta runs June 13-15. The J Class Regatta is June 16, 19 & 20. And Red Bull Youth America’s Cup races are spread from June 12 to June 20.

About the Marion Bermuda Race 
This is the 21st Marion Bermuda Race and the 40th year for the 645-mile open ocean challenge for cruiser type yachts.

The first Marion-Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race in 1977 saw 104 starters cross the line. Over the forty years since that first race the race has evolved into a true offshore challenge for cruising yachts, amateur, family and youth sailors. Special prizes abound to emphasis celestial navigation, short handed sailing, family crews and regional competition. The race is handicapped under the ORR rating system to assure the fairest scoring available for ocean racing yachts.

About the Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race Association
The Marion Bermuda Race encourages the development of blue-water sailing skills on seaworthy yachts that can be handled safely offshore with limited crew. The Marion Bermuda Race is a 501(c)(3) organization and among other educational efforts, supports and encourages Youth Sailing programs. The Marion to Bermuda Race is organized and run entirely by hundreds of volunteering members of The Beverly Yacht Club (BYC), The Blue Water Sailing Club (BWSC) and The Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club (RHADC) for the Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race Association.

Marion to Bermuda Race (Photo by Talbot Wilson)

Speedboat From Above (Photo by Daniel Forster / PPL )

Speedboat From Above (Photo by Daniel Forster / PPL )

The lead boats entered the Gulf Stream at around sunset Saturday, heading upwind into a moderate southwesterly wind with as much as 4 knots of favorable current in the long, hot meander that they have been steering for since the race start on Friday afternoon. Speedboat, at 100ft the largest yacht in the fleet, was making more than 12 knots over the bottom. The earlier “champagne conditions” were behind them as they pounded into big, square, confused seas.

iBoattrack  positions at 11 AM EDT Sunday showed Speedboat averaging almost 11 knots with 175 miles to the finish. At this rate she is behind the  48-hour elapsed time race record for cant-keel, Open Division boats – She has to average 13knots for the whole race to beat this time.

Rán was 38 miles back. Following close on the heels of this English boat in the Gibbs Hill Division were Titan XV, Beau Geste, Bella Mente, Rambler, Il Mostro, Vanquish, and Genuine Risk. This tightly bunched pack of eight has been separated by only a few miles since the start.

Ran From Above (Photo by Daniel Forster / PPL )

Ran From Above (Photo by Daniel Forster / PPL )

By this morning the ‘big boat’ leaders were clear of the Stream and entering the 250-mile stretch of often confused wind and currents between the Gulf Stream and Bermuda. Race veterans wryly call this “Happy Valley,” for it is where the race is often won and lost.              

Chris Museler, on Titan XV, filed this report just before midnight:
“Now this is what we came for! The boat is literally crashing into waves close reaching onto the Gulf Stream and the water temperature has leapt into the 80s. It’s getting darker and the Aramid rigging has been humming and groaning, and the deck bounces from each loud crack when a sheet or the traveler is eased. This wild ride comes from being in a positive eddy heading south, straight into it! (Wind and current collide to stack up the seas that the boats are crashing into.) This is getting to be fun after losing a bit to competitors this afternoon. The bright sun and the flat water sailing are gone. Can’t write anymore, quite hot and uncomfortable down here. So I’m on watch and will be seeing you in the morning. Knew I wouldn’t want to sail a Bermuda Race without a proper ‘thrash,’ as Mr. Rousmaniere calls it!”

 'Sinn Fein' a Cal 40 skippered by Peter S. Rebovich Sr. leads 'Frolic', a Sabre 362 owned by Peter Brown, in class 1 of the St David's Lighthouse at the start of the 635 mile Newport Bermuda Race(Photo by Daniel Forster / PPL)

'Sinn Fein' a Cal 40 skippered by Peter S. Rebovich Sr. leads 'Frolic', a Sabre 362 owned by Peter Brown, in class 1 of the St David's Lighthouse at the start of the 635 mile Newport Bermuda Race(Photo by Daniel Forster / PPL)

The Smaller Boats

By dawn today, Rán was out of the Stream, and the team was speculating in their blog whether the smaller boats – a hundred miles astern, and just entering this zone – have had consistently more wind than the big ones.

In Class 1, the St. David’s Lighthouse Division class for boats of about 40 feet, Sinn Fein, the two-time defending St. David’s champion, has chosen a course well to the right of the fleet leaders, and her close class rivals sistership Gone with the Wind and the Tartan 41 Aurora, and charting a route 50 miles west of the rhumb line.   

In the Double-Handed Division, two of the light-displacement Class 40s, Dragon and KamoaE, have a healthy lead on elapsed time, but Richard du Moulin’s Lora Ann remains in contention. 

The Cruiser Division leader is the 56-foot Clover III, well ahead of the bigger boats in this Division.      

The Gibbs Hill Lighthouse and St David's Lighthouse Trophies (Photo by Barry Pickthall / PPL)

The Gibbs Hill Lighthouse and St David's Lighthouse Trophies (Photo by Barry Pickthall / PPL)