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Marion Bermuda Race off to a flying start

by Talbot Wilson on 15 Jun 2013
Spirit of Bermuda, chartered by Preston Hutchings of Bermuda and Patrick McGee of Texas, starts first in the 2013 Marion Bermuda Race © Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images http://www.gettyimages.com/
The 19th Marion Bermuda Race is underway with a fast start. Of the thirty-five boats that had finally registered, thirty-four made it to the line. Warm Rain, a 32-foot Pacific Seacraft that was the smallest boat in the fleet, scratched yesterday. Spirit of Bermuda, the sole Classic Division entry crossed the line alone thus first in the first start. Celebrity journalist Geraldo Rivera in the Founder Division Class A Voyager was last in the last start to cross the line.

Jonathan Harrison, skipper of Warm Rain, had been planning for this race for three years. He decided to withdraw when two of his small crew needed to stay home for personal reasons. Harrison had been invited to sail on Gary Nackman’s Briston 42 Blue Note in 2011. Jonathan told Gary about his plight and Gary invited him to join the crew on Blue Note, saving his dream. That kind of gesture speaks volumes about the Marion Bermuda Race attitude.

The Classic Division started at 12:10, followed by founders Class C at 12:45, Class B at 13:00 and Class C at 13:15. No boats were over early even though they had a broad reach start in 18-22 knots of wind. They were going against the incoming tide, which no doubt helped.



The two biggest boats in the Race, Spirit of Bermuda at 112’ length overall and Shindig at 68 feet, got impressive starts. Spirit had all her laundry out… three jibs, a main and a mizzen. The sleek blue Shindig, starting in the final group, was the first boat to fly a spinnaker. They have a good shot at line honors with a crew of cadets from Massachusetts Maritime Academy aboard and the former owner, Arthur Burke of Dartmouth, as well as MMA coach Chuck Fontaine and a handful of experienced crew. Shindig is a lighter, more modern design that can hold speed in lighter winds.

A crew member from Shindig texted a friend shortly after the start… 'hitting 22.5 knots.' A powerboat at full speed in four foot seas tracked them at a steady 17 knots. By the 3pm update on YellowBrick, Shindig was breathing down Spirit’s neck. By the 4pm report, they will be flying their spinnaker and surfing ahead of the fleet to Bermuda.

The traditional St David’s Lighthouse volunteer party in Bermuda is scheduled for Monday afternoon. The skipper and crew of Shindig could be at the party, if the wind holds. Marion Bermuda Race website

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