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Marion Bermuda Race - Spirit of Bermuda breaks match

by Talbot Wilson on 10 Jun 2013
Spirit of Bermuda Daniel Forster © http://www.DanielForster.com
In the 2013 Marion Bermuda Race, the ocean match race between two classic yachts— Belle Aventure and Spirit of Bermuda— was broken this week when Belle’s captain Dave Thompson notified the Marion Bermuda Race organizers that they would be unable to race in the 645-mile crossing to Bermuda on June 14th. Spirit, the big blue Bermuda sloop had anticipated the challenge of a 645-mile match race in the new Classic Yacht Division against the 94-foot Fife Ketch Belle Aventure sailed by an all New England crew. This leaves the fleet with 37 boats in the Founders Division and one in the new Classic Yacht Division. Spirit of Bermuda is the largest boat, with Founder’s Division entry Shindig, an Andrews 68 entered by Mass Maritime, 44 feet shorter but perhaps faster in some conditions. This should be the battle for line honors at St David’s Lighthouse, Bermuda. The smallest boat is Roust, a Sea Sprite 34, sailed by Ian Gumprecht of Oyster Bay, NY. 'Due to unforeseen circumstances with the owners' schedules,' Thompson wrote to the organizers, 'S/Y Belle Aventure will not be able to sail to Bermuda this year during the Marion to Bermuda race. We were looking forward to racing, but will have to hold off for a different year. Both the crew and the owners apologize for any inconveniences this may cause and wish you all luck in the race this year.' Upon learning of the withdrawal, Bermudian Preston Hutchings said, 'Their withdrawal is disappointing. Nevertheless, we will have a safe and fun time sailing Spirit to Bermuda and competing for the Blue Water Sailing Club Board of Governors’ Trophy.' The trophy is awarded to the yacht with the shortest elapsed time. Hutchings had been looking forward to matching up against another classic yacht for this race. In 2012 Spirit of Bermuda had also sailed as the only classic. Back in February 2012, Hutchings was participating in a Bermuda Sloop Foundation fundraiser, trying to raise money for Spirit of Bermuda and to save himself from walking the plank. He asked Alan Burland, co-founder of the foundation about the possibility of someone chartering Spirit for the next Marion Bermuda Race. The charter price was settled in a few days and Hutchings and his friend Patrick McGee of Dallas TX took the plunge, but not off the plank. They took a joint charter for the 2013 race and are set to start at 12:10PM on June 14. McGee had once told Hutchings that he would like to race to Bermuda with his family. Going on a typical boat with McGee and his sons wasn’t really a possibility so the idea lay dormant for years. Now that they had Spirit, a boat that would need a crew of 21, the dream was rekindled. McGee will be joined by his son William. Hutchings will be joined by his two sons William and Alistair. They will also be joined by another family… navigator and executive director of Team Adventure Larry Rosenfeld, his wife Amy and their son Willie. Hutchings and McGee have also endowed the division for American Sail Training Association (ASTA) rated boats and have dedicated the division winner’s trophy in the memory of Ed Williams, the former captain of Sir Bayard Dill’s yacht the Dutchess of Devonshire. Alan Burland commented on Ed Williams role in making the Spirit dream come true: 'Ed Williams Sr. was a wonderful Bermudian sailor, ambassador, and friend of Spirit.' Burland had begun his eulogy at Williams’ funeral by saying 'Captain Ed Williams was a loyal and steadfast supporter of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation… Capt. Ed wanted to help young Bermudians to learn real life long skills, to build character, to work together, to be resilient, and to excel – the very lessons he learnt so well.' Ed Williams Jr. will be aboard for the race. This is the second 'Bermuda' race for Spirit. In 2012 she sailed Newport Bermuda as the sole entry in the Traditional Division with a largely Bermuda youth crew, young people who had trained aboard her as part of their island educational program. Spirit is a sail training vessel manned by Bermuda schoolboys and schoolgirls, sailing masters and teachers. It is a seagoing classroom that teaches both an educational curriculum and life lessons. The 2013 Marion Bermuda Race for Spirit will be quiete different. She will be pushed harder this time by a more experienced crew and the crew hopes to cross the finish line of Bermuda’s St. David’s Lighthouse first. Hutchings, this year’s skipper, was first to finish in 2007 with his modern 42-foot Swan Morgan’s Ghost. Hutchings is bringing aboard 20 other sailors this time to go for the goal. 14 have multiple Bermuda Race experience, two have extensive offshore experience in other venues and four are experienced inshore sailors. Co-charterer McGee and his son and a friend Dan Routman are all inshore sailors from Texas. Oliver Sarkozy, brother of the former French President, is an inshore sailor as well. Spirit’s biggest and closest competition for line honors will be from a more modern cruiser-racer, an Andrews 68 named Shindig. The proof of the pudding is the performance. All in Bermuda are welcome to share in the post-race festivities and come down to the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club to walk the docks and see all of the yachts that have sailed from Marion in the classic ocean race. Celebrate the week of the solstice at RHSADC, Bermuda Style. Marion Bermuda Race website

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