Marion, Massachusetts- June 18, 2015: This is a busy day for all competitors who are harried by last minute safety drills, provisioning and fine tuning their yachts. Skippers must all do a final check-in at Beverly Yacht Club to make sure all their entry documents are complete and to receive their Yellow Brick tracking transponders, their official race documents, Gosling’s hats and other race swag. More than half of the fleet still had to check in on the last day.
At 5PM Thursday, the skippers briefing convenes at Tabor Academy, a short walk from the village of Marion. Race organizers discuss race rules, offer a weather briefing and give racers a look at where the Gulf Stream currents are looping through the Atlantic.
Members of the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club will review the all important steps to approaching the finish line off St. David’s Lighthouse, the iconic symbol of yacht racing to Bermuda. Yachts rounding the northern end of the islands must keep seeward of North East Breaker, Kitchen Shoal, Mills Breaker and the Sea Buoy.
The finish line is a space approximately 0.4 nautical miles (NM) wide, marked by buoys at both the shoreward and the seaward ends. The line on a 111°magnetic bearing from St. David's Light, which corresponds to the division between the St. David's Lighthouse’s green and red sectors.
The shoreward end of the line is approximately 0.8 NM from St. David's Lighthouse, marked by a green buoy with a flashing green light. The seaward end of the line will be approximately 1.2 NM from St. David's Light, marked by a black buoy with a flashing white light. The buoys might not be exactly on the magnetic bearing line from the lighthouse. Yachts must pass throuth the line from north to south.
The Warning Signal for the Classic Yacht Division is scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, June 19, 2015, at 1200 EDT. The 118-foot Bermuda Sloop, ‘Spirit of Bermuda’, will begin her countdown as the first boat to start in the 20th Marion to Bermuda Race. The Warning Signal for the first Founders Division class is scheduled for 1235 EDT. Founders Division classes will start at 15- minute intervals.
Sailing aboard ‘Spirit’, His Excellency George Fergusson, the Governor of Bermuda, will be making his first ocean race to the island nation 645 miles SSE of Marion. ‘Spirit’ is sailing with seven professional crew and fifteen guests of the charterer Jim Butterfield of Bermuda.
Forty-five other yachts from 65 to 34 feet will be divided into classes in the Founders Division based on the boats’ ORR handicap ratings. Competition for special awards is extensive. There are special prizes for celestial navigated yachts, short-handed crewed yachts, double-handed crews, family crews, youth crews, all female crews, mini-class yachts of the same hull design, service academy, oldest average age, regional crews, and combined performance with other offshore races like the Newport Bermuda Race.
The Marion Bermuda Race is now the only ocean race in North America that offers a celestial navigation class for those skippers who want that challenge. To help stimulate participation in using celestial in 2015, the time benefit has been increased from 2% to 3% over electronically navigated yachts.
Sixteen of the 46 entries in 2015 will be in the Celestial Navigation Class. They compete for the Founders Trophy for first overall and also compete for the Beverly Yacht Club Polaris Trophy awarded to the first celestially navigated yacht.
– Talbot Wilson