Marion, Massachusetts- June 19, 2015: Forty-five boats are all on their way to Bermuda in the 2015 Marion to Bermuda Race. Two boats were over the starting line early in their class starts, Michael Wierman’s ‘Legacy V’ in B and Steve John’s ‘Margalo’ in Class A. They ducked back below the line and made clean starts with little trouble. The fleet of 44 boats in the Founders Division were divided in to classes A through D and ‘Spirit of Bermuda’ was alone in the Classic Division.
‘Spirit of Bermuda’, the Bermuda Sloop Foundation’s sail training vessel chartered by Jim Butterfield, was first to start and played it safe by crossing about 10 seconds after their starting gun. Skipper Stuart Birnie didn’t want to risk having to dip the 118-foot Bermuda sloop below the line if he had been over early.
Class D, made up of boats with the slowest handicaps, started next. The fastest and biggest boats staretd last.
The best start in Class D went to the smallest boat in the fleet, the 34-foot Sea Sprite ‘Roust’. She was the overall winner in the 2013 race, sailing double-handed and by celestial navigation. She is sailed by owner-skipper Ian Gumprecht of Oyster Bay NY and co-skipper Mark Swanson of North Creek NY. Rob McAlpine’s classic Hinkley SW42 ‘Sparky’ was pushing hard on ‘Roust’ from her starboard quarter with an excellent start as well.
'Corsair', a C&C 40-02 skippered by David Risch, got the top start in Class C. She was ahead and to weather of her class from the committee boat end of the line and was sailing high and fast compared with the rest. ‘Escapade II’, a Morris 46 skippered by Tom Bowler, got off well at the pin end.
‘Integrity’, NA 22 from the US Naval Academy skippered by Tom Wester, got the start of the day in Class B at the pin end. Bill Bowers J42 ‘Convergence’ got off the line well in the middle along with the Hinkley SW51 ‘Momentum’. Class B promises to be very competitive with three highly experienced and successful US Naval Academy entries fighting each other for honors.
The battle in Class A was between the 65-foot Mass Maritime entry ‘Mischievous’ and Wes McMichael’s J44 'Ballyhoo'. They were running down the line approaching the pin with 10 seconds to their start and it looked like 'Ballyhoo' would be OCS. At the last moment, she ducked below the line, headed back up the course and led ‘Mischievous’ across for the best start. 'Spirit', a J-44 sailed by an all female Mass Maritime crew, also got a strong, clear start from the middle of the line.
After the windward start in a nice SSE 12 knot breeze, winds and seas are expected to be low to moderate Friday night and Saturday. On Sunday, what’s left of Tropical Depression Bill is predicted to hook up with a frontal system moving east and pass into the Atlantic in the afternoon and evening. Winds in the Gulf Stream are expected to be fresh, up to 30 knots or more. The seas should build to over three meters.
For a look at wind and current predictions, go to www/passageweather.com and click on the Marion Bermuda race link.
– Talbot Wilson