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Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race - Spirit of Bermuda leads fleet

by Colin Thompson on 20 Jun 2013
Spirit of Bermuda chartered from the Bermuda Sloop Foundation for the Marion Bermiuda Race by Preston Hutchings of Bermuda and Patrick McGee of dallas TX arrives at the Royal Hamilton Dinghy Club. ©Talbot Wilson
The local boats in this year’s Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race were led across the finish line off St David’s Head on Wednesday by Spirit of Bermuda.

The 118-foot sloop crossed the line at 2:43am to complete the 645 nautical mile race in an elapsed time of fours days, 13 hours, 33 minutes and 20 seconds.

Provisional results showed Spirit 18th in the 34 boat fleet that set sail from Buzzards Bay, Marion, Massachusetts last Friday.

Spirit was the sole entry in the new Classic Yacht Division following the late withdrawal of the 94-foot Fife Ketch Belle Aventure.

The triple masted schooner had the privilege of starting the race first and led the fleet for several hours before eventually being overtaken by the Andrew 68, Shindig, that went on to claim line honours.

Spirit made good headway in the early stages of the race but gradually fell off the pace for line honours as light headwinds on the final approach to Bermuda reduced the boat’s progress to a trickle.

'Spirit doesn’t go to windward very well because she tacks through wide degrees,' said the boat’s skipper Preston Hutchings. 'Being an older design it takes us many more tacks to get to windward than a newer, modern boat so it was tough coming in the last 50 miles or so.'

At one stage the breeze was so light it forced Spirit’s crew to consider dropping sails and switching on the boat’s engines.

'We came close to starting the engine going at one to two knots without no certainty we were going to have favourable winds before we got to Bermuda,' Hutchings said. 'Fortunately it never came to that point.'

Despite the unfavourable conditions skipper Hutchings and his crew remained upbeat during their painstaking crawl towards the finish.

'Everyone had an absolute blast,' Hutchings said. 'We all got here safely and everybody had fun, which was the key thing.'

One of the highlights of the final beat towards the Island occurred when crewman Mark Procter and First Officer Sean Correia reeled in a 60lb tuna that was quickly consumed.

'Mark and Shawn worked really hard to get it into the boat,' Hutchings said. 'Our fantastic chef (Benjamin Bernardo) sliced it up almost immediately for tuna sashimi and then we had tuna pasta for dinner. That was a lot of fun.'

This year marked the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy (RHADC) and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club (RBYC) sailor’s second appearance in the Marion Bermuda Race.

Hutchings seized line honours at the first attempt during his race debut in 2007, the 30th anniversary of the biennial event, sailing aboard his 42-foot Swan Morgan’s Ghosts.

Meanwhile, Alice Kay, the only other local boat in this year’s race also crossed the finish today.

George Cubbon’s double masted Hinckley Bermuda 40 finished in an elapsed time of four days, 21 hours, 56 minutes and 46 seconds.

Provisional results placed Alice Kay 32nd in the overall fleet and sixth in Class C with a corrected time of four days, two hours, 57 minutes and 24 seconds.

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