by Talbot Wilson
Marion MA, June 16, 2019: The 2019 Marion Bermuda Race is shaping up to be a close line honors and handicap race for overall prizes. But with 300 or more miles to go and the Happy Valley/Parking Lot between the fleet and the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club’s finish line off St. David’s Lighthouse in Bermuda, a lot can happen. The leaders are closing in on the halfway point in the 645-mile race.
The leaders of all four Founders Division classes are sailing only by the stars and the 'Strawberry' full moon. The Marion Bermuda Race is the only US based offshore race that encourages celestial navigation. Boats that elect to use celestial only get a 3% credit on their adjusted elapsed time for the race.
Kiwi Spirit, the Riley Family’s Farr 63, is the scratch (fastest) boat in the fleet and still leads all boats for line honors. Sunday morning, she was 300 miles from Bermuda sailing on starboard tack at 8.6 kts steering a course of 139º. Winds were fresh from the southwest at around 15 kts.
Abigail, Robert Buck’s Aquidneck 52 from Marion MA, was some 25 miles back and a little further west than Kiwi Spirit. She was sailing 151º to Bermuda. Abigail is the predicted leader of Class A at this time, according to the data on the YB Tracking.
Sunday’s estimated leader in Class B was Gallant, a Pearson Composite Navy 44 skippered by Christian Hoffman. The US Naval Academy boat looked very smart coming off the line in Marion Friday. She’s always highly competitive in offshore conditions.
Of the class leaders, Elena, Steve Gordon’s Alden 50 from Stamford CT, was the farthest boat to the west. She was 334 miles from the finish steering 152º. Elena won Block Island 2019 and is the leader here in Class C.
Class D has harbored the winning boat for the past two Marion Bermuda Race. Cordelia the leader of that class on Sunday morning with 384 miles left to Bermuda. She was making 7.1 kts steering 148º. Cordelia is skippered by Roy Greenwald of Marion.
The classic schooner Tabor Boy from Tabor Academy continues as the sole competitor in the Classic Division. Spirit of Bermuda, the other classic entry, sailed outside of the starting line pin, failing to start correctly… actually not crossing the starting line at all. Spirit is sailing home to Bermuda, but the Bermuda sloop has been listed as a DNS (Did Not Start).
The Founders Division boats will be sailing under a new “anti-bias” version of the ORR handicapping system. The new system designed by race organizers in collaboration with the Offshore Racing Association (ORA) should remove the bias against faster boats by eliminating the “Parking Lot” effect.
The “Parking Lot” effect is the bias which occurs when faster boats loose time against slower boats in low or no-wind conditions usually experienced south of the Gulf Stream and north of Bermuda and often as evening falls on boats at the mouth of Buzzards Bay.
The “Parking Lot” adjustment will be applied as a time correction factor based on actual vs. predicted performance of the first three boats to finish. It will only be applied if conditions are appropriate according to how these boats perform. If the pace boats beat their predicted times, it is clear that they sailed fast and there was no ‘Parking Lot” at all. In that case, no correction will be applied.
All of the race details, including an explanation of the handicap correction system and formula, for the race are published in the Sailing Instructions.
Races within the Race
Competition for special awards is a unique attraction for the Marion-Bermuda Race. The Notice of Race has all the details. Go to the website for photos and descriptions of the trophies and the competition for them.
The R&W Rope Rigging Solutions 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 has at least four (4) 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 14, 2019. One or more adults at least 23 years old by June 14, 2019 must be on board.
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.
About the Marion Bermuda Race
The 2019 race is the 22nd Marion Bermuda Race and the 42nd 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-two 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.