Marion Bermuda Race sailors at the Beverly Yacht Club in Marion were busy Wednesday completing their final registration process, getting their Yellow Brick trackers and setting computers up to download the latest weather files from the National Weather Service and other public web sites. The start was just two days away. Elusive is a 1982 Cal 39 Mk 3 from Travers Island NY skippered by Wayne Gillikin. For the skipper and all three of his crew, this is their first Bermuda Race. They are sailing non-spinnaker in the Founders Division. When asked if he was nervous about going, Gillikin nodded, 'I’m concerned.' He and his crew were downloading a GRIB file reader to convert the data files that they will be able to pull down into readable graphic NOAA weather maps. Then they started looking at what to expect for the Friday start and down the rhumb line to Bermuda. 'Getting out of Buzzards Bay will be fast and painful', he said. 'But then we hope we don’t get trapped in a cold eddy in the light and shifty conditions we see down near Bermuda. We may have to get s few more cans of Dinty Moore.' As a first timer, Gillikin took advantage of the Marion Bermuda race mentor program. His mentor was David Risch, the Mentoring and Participation Chair on the Executive Committee. Wayne praised the process, 'Going through all the steps to meet ISAF Cat 1 safety and equipment requirements and to get the boat inspection completed was time consuming and tough. Keeping crew and replacing those who had to drop out for personal reasons was maybe tougher. David was very helpful throughout.' Gillikin came out of the Safety at Sea seminar this spring thinking that he was really heading offshore into a storm. All the experiences discussed were negative. 'We thought it would be good for them to highlight some good experiences, too, he said. All in all we are excited and ready to go to Bermuda. We are more positive.' And all in all, this will be another interesting Marion Bermuda Race. The weather predicted for the start is wind NNW 20-25 knots maybe gusting to 30 as seen on www.passageweather.com. There is a 90% chance of precipitation Friday predicted by the National Weather Service. The racers should have a fast run out of Buzzards Bay and maybe all the way down through the Gulf Stream with strong to moderate NNW winds. A weak spot in the center of a high-pressure system will cross the course south of the stream and the wind should lighten first from West of the direct course to Bermuda to the East later Sunday and Monday and back into the NNE. From there it should be 5-10kts to the finish. Winds later in the week should become southerly. So it is setting up to be a mostly downwind race or maybe a broad reach early, turning into a beat into Bermuda for the slower boats by mid-week. The Gulf Stream as illustrated on Passage Weather looks like it will set up on Saturday to give the racers a southeasterly push down the course pretty close to the rhumb line, the direct course to Bermuda. Jenifer Clark of Jenifer Clark's Gulf Stream commented about today's Gulf Stream conditions— 'The Gulf Stream and eddies are not very favorable for the race. But there are ways to minimize the foul flow and take advantage of the favorable flow. There is a clockwise circulating warm eddy West of rhumb with favorable flow on eastern side and another warm eddy just East of rhumb (may be on the rhumb by Thursday) but it has foul flow on the western side. The stream is running in a stable pattern West to East but a knuckle could develop near the rhumb. South of the stream there are numerous cold eddies. One has foul flow right on the rhumb.' The race from Marion is really a four-part process. 1) Getting off the line and out of Buzzard’s Bay and past Sow and Pigs Reef 2) getting down to the Gulf Stream 3) crossing the Gulf Stream and 4) reaching Bermuda after traversing the tricky currents and oft fickle winds of the ‘Happy Valley.’ Of course, part four will be the heart breaker or the dream maker. Marion Bermuda website
Getting out of Buzzards Bay will be fast & painful”, Wayne Gillikin said. “But then we hope we don’t get trapped in a cold eddy in the light and shifty conditions we see down near Bermuda. We may have to get s few more cans of Dinty Moore.