Please select your home edition
Edition
Bavaria Cruiser 34 728x90

Marion Bermuda – Only East coast race with a Celestial Classification

by Talbot Wilson on 19 Mar
Ray Cullum's Bill Dixon designed 44' sloop “Frolic” will sail as a Celestial classification entry in the 2017 Marion Bermuda Race. Brian Gaudet
The Marion Bermuda Race is the only US East coast offshore race which features a Celestial Navigation Classification with appropriate time credits. It is the only one that offers prizes for yachts that sail by the stars. The Beverly Yacht Club Polaris Trophy is offered for the first celestially navigated yacht and that yacht’s navigator is recognized with the Navigator’s Trophy.

So far for this 2017 Marion Bermuda Race, there are 11 Founders Division racers entered to sail under the Celestial Classification. These entries will get a 3% credit on their ORR rating handicap time on time. Completed entries must be in by May 27. The race starts in Buzzard’s Bay on June 9.

One of those celestial entries, Ray Cullum— a race trustee, past Beverly YC commodore and long-time race volunteer— is sailing his own Bill Dixon designed 44' sloop “Frolic”. This is his first time skippering his own boat, but his 6th Marion Bermuda Race in all. He has raced on boats ranging from 39 to 67 feet.

“I did my first MBR in 1999, and we went celestially.” Cullum said. “Going celestially adds an additional level of achievement to the race. You pay a lot more attention to your environment going celestially as your DR [dead reckoning] plot is the all important method and is something many of us no longer use with the advent of electronic GPS and chart plotters.”

“There is a certain excitement about navigating to an island 650 nautical miles away by the sun, moon and stars,” he added.

Ray has brought a winning navigator on board. Andy Howe, navigator of the 2015 winner “Ti” will be plotting “Frolic’s” course south across the Gulf Stream and through the 150 mile long ‘happy valley’ on the approach to Bermuda. Howe has done ten Bermuda races, six from Marion and four from Newport.

Howe talked about learning celestial navigation and then teaching the skill to others, “I learned Celestial back in the mid 70’s while doing a stint in the USCG. I got better at it running private yachts and delivering them back and forth to the Caribbean. Then for 12 years I worked for Ocean Navigator and taught a lot of navigation courses including celestial. I taught both in classroom sessions and on board “Ocean Star” their training vessel.”

“Celestial is a traditional skill/art,” Howe added. “It demands a lot of attention to detail and enough subjective analysis to bring more than number crunching to bear. Being able to take the hard info from sights, the boat dead reckoning information, and then getting it all onto the chart for interpretation is where the art really comes into play.”

“The reward from using celestial accurately across 650 miles of open ocean is tremendous,” he continued. “I have rarely been more than 5 miles off in my final position, so it can be done. Doing the 2015 race with a family crew and boat and having all the other variables in the race come together in our favor for multiple wins provided all of us with a lifetime of memories. I hope the “Frolic” adventure is a repeat of 2015.”



When “Frolic” reaches a point 50 miles from the finish off Bermuda’s St. David’s Lighthouse, the team can uncover the electronics for the final approach. This is a concession to safety since Bermuda’s northern shore is surrounded by reefs. If you were keeping score it would be something like Reefs 195, Ships and Yachts 0.

During the race, traditional star, sun, planet or moon sights must determine a yacht’s location. Navigators of yachts competing using celestial navigation must at a minimum maintain, and have ready for inspection in Bermuda, a paper-based log of each sight (including body, date, time, and Ha), paper or electronic plotting sheets, and a paper chart showing fixes resulting from sights used for navigation. Most important will be the fix used to determine that the yacht was, or was not, within 50 NM of Kitchen Shoal beacon.

Yachts may use modern onboard non GPS based instruments. Speedometer, distance log, compass, depth sounder and the thermometer use to indicate their location in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream are some of the allowances. Calculators and computers may be used for sight reductions and for computing courses.

Like many of the entries in this year’s race, Ray will be staying for the America’s Cup finals. The America’s Cup Match between the final challenger and Oracle Team USA, the defender will be sailed June 17-27 following the challengers qualifying and playoffs starting May 26.

Harken AUS HL Snatch Block 660x82Barz Optics - San Juan Worlds Best EyewearX-Yachts AUS X4 - 660 - 1

Related Articles

ASMEX and SCIBS put Australia in the limelight
All eyes are on Australia this week as the 2017 ASMEX conference and Sanctuary Cove boat show get under way. With the 2017 Australian Superyacht and Marine Export (ASMEX) conference opening today, followed by the 29th Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show (SCIBS), Australia is taking centre stage in the global yacht market this week.
Posted on 22 May
Volvo Ocean Race to strengthen historic connection with Southern Ocean
The changes include a commitment to race activity in every calendar year and a proposed non-stop lap around Antarctica The race has launched a Host City tender process for three editions after the upcoming 2017-18 race – with a commitment to there being race activity of some kind in each and every calendar year. That marks a clear evolution from the current situation, which features a gap of over two years between races.
Posted on 22 May
World comes to Portsmouth for Clipper Yacht Race crew allocation
Safety was the core of the opening message from both Sir Robin and Clipper Race Director Mark Light. Along the way, the fleet of twelve 70-foot yachts will cross six oceans and stop in ports in six continents.
Posted on 22 May
Commanding Platoon wins Rolex Tp52 Worlds
The 2017 Rolex TP52 Worlds were won by Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon from Germany. The 2017 Rolex TP52 Worlds were won by Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon from Germany. In some respects, they made it look easy, never seeming to put a foot wrong and winning by a seven-point margin from Quantum Racing. This is not even half the story.
Posted on 22 May
The return to Coffs!
The word is out that the new race to Coffs Harbour is on. The phoenix would run once again in the Christmas timeslot The word is out that the new race to Coffs Harbour is on. The phoenix would run once again in the traditional Christmas timeslot, and also be the much easier to digest 200 or so miles. The ‘new’ race would also be geared towards club racers, so they, and their non-pro crews could be out and back, and almost more importantly, returned to work before anyone missed them. Bring it on...
Posted on 22 May
Winners declared at Quicksilver Port Douglas Race Week
Division two Winners Helen and Mick Gwilliams on Lady Mystique from PDYC sailed superb campaign to take out the Division Three local teams and three visiting teams, crossing all divisional lines, vied for the title of Race Week Pool champs with the eventual winners being Spank over Lady Mystique. The important thing was the beer was cold and the company was warm on a chilly day (for Port Douglas!)
Posted on 21 May
Rolex TP52 World Championship – Day 5 action-shots by Nico Martinez
Nico Martinez provided this gallery of action-shots from 2017 Rolex TP52 World Championship – Day 5. Nico Martinez provided this gallery of action-shots from 2017 Rolex TP52 World Championship – Day 5.
Posted on 21 May
Super steady Platoon win Rolex TP52 World Championship title
Platoon crew got better of five-time title holders Quantum Racing during an exciting winner takes all final day showdown Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon crew got the better of the five-time title holders Quantum Racing during an exciting winner takes all final day showdown to win the Rolex TP52 World Championship title for the first time. Their seemingly unerring consistency across the challenging, hard-to-read conditions proved telling.
Posted on 21 May
Fremantle to Bali Ocean Classic - Walk on Wild Side cleans up in Bali
Garth Curran’s 58ft Inglis designed flyer Walk on the Wild Side took all three major prizes in Racing Div – Line honours At a glittering but low key presentation last night, Garth Curran’s 58 foot Inglis designed flyer Walk on the Wild Side took all three major prizes in the Racing Division – Line honours, first place IRC and first place YAH. In the process, Wild Side posted the third fastest time in the history of the event, a remarkable achievement for this 30 year old grand lady of the West Coast
Posted on 20 May
Podium finish for Azzurra in the Rolex TP52 World Championship
Fresh northwesterly 15-18 knot wind forecast for today didn’t fill in until after 2pm, allowing only one race to be run. Azzurra won big time on the last day for a well earned third overall. Platoon is the new world champion; the circuit’s next event will be in Porto Cervo.
Posted on 20 May