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.