From Buzzard’s Bay to Bermuda




Fifty sailboats will hit the start line in Buzzard’s Bay on June 19 for the Marion version of the “Thrash to the Onion Patch” in the 20th Marion to Bermuda Race.

The 118-foot “Spirit of Bermuda”, the island’s sail training vessel and Bermuda’s floating ambassador is the largest and only entry in the Classic Division. “Mischievous”, a Meriten 65 is the sole entry in the Big Yacht Division. All of the other entries are in the Founders Division.

Returning in 2015 to defend her 2013 title is “Roust”, last year’s overall winner of the Founders Trophy. She is a little 34-foot Sea Sprite, the smallest entry in the 2013 race. “Roust” is sailed double-handed and is also celestially navigated.

Ian Gumprecht of Oyster Bay NY and Mark Swanson of North Creek NY, co-skippers of “Roust” hoisted the Founders Trophy for their sterling performance in this 645-mile classic. They sailed their little Sea Sprite 34 to first place in Class C. For first place in the entire Founders Division, they won the top prize for the race, the FOUNDERS TROPHY. Along the way, they snagged the DOUBLE-HANDED TROPHY, too.

At the 2013 prizegiving, Gumprecht said, “We did well because we had a good team. We changed headsails two times within two miles of the finish and seven changes the day before.” Swanson added, “I think we did well because we sailed hard and fast. We kept moving all the time, choosing to sail a little off a chosen course to get more speed.”

This is a race with many winners. Within the Founders Division are further class divisions based on handicap ratings. Competition for special awards is extensive with special prizes for celestial navigated yachts, short-handed crewed yachts, double-handed crews, family crews, all female crews, mini-class yachts of the same hull design, service academy, oldest average crew 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 entries in 2015 will be in the Celestial Navigation Class competing for the Beverly Yacht Club Polaris Trophy awarded to the first celestially navigated yacht.

Also, since it is difficult for many younger sailors to participate in an offshore race, the Marion Bermuda Race has added an Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy for 2015 with the goal of increasing the number of younger sailors in our sport. The Marion Bermuda Race is the first offshore event to offer a class specifically for youth sailors., The Annapolis to Newport Race organizers liked the concept and have added its own Youth Challenge Trophy to their event.

“I think it’s great that the Annapolis to Newport Race added a youth trophy,” said Ray Cullum, Marion Race marketing Director. “I hope we’ll see Newport Bermuda do it also in 2016. I spoke about the creation of our Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy in a recent magazine interview and said we will be thrilled if other events follow suit. The continued nurturing of youth sailing is required to guarantee the future of the sport”.

The Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy was created to enable young adult sailors to experience the challenge of sailing offshore accompanied by experienced adult mentors. So far two yachts have qualified for the Youth Challenge, “Mischievous” skippered by Charles Cahill and “Spirit” skippered by Priscilla Stoll. Both represent the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. A third youth team is expected, but has yet to register. Incidentally, “Spirit” will also compete for the Commodore Faith Paulsen Trophy for yachts with an all female crew.

The class is open to sailors between the ages of 16 and 23 years of age. A youth sailor must be 16 years of age or older by June 18, 2015 but not over 23 years of age by June 18, 2015.

A minimum of four youths must be aboard to qualify as a Youth Boat. One or more adults must be aboard and must be at least 23 years of age by June 18, 2015. Youth sailors will constitute at least two thirds of the total number of persons aboard.

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