Marion Bermuda: How Long Will The Wind Last?

June 14, 2013

[Written by Talbot Wilson] The big question on the eve of the 19th Marion Bermuda Race is how long will the wind last as the boats head down the 645-mile course to Bermuda. Larry Rosenfeld, navigator on Spirit of Bermuda, is hesitant to give an ETA for the big blue Bermuda Sloop. Spirit starts first at 12:10PM in Marion.

Practice on Spirit_DSC_7290

“If we make really good time early and the pressure holds, we can be South of the light winds in the high that will expand across the course,” he mused. In that scenario, the wind will hold for Spirit all the way to Bermuda although it will be lighter South of the Gulf Stream and shift to the South Southeast.

If Spirit parks in the expanding high, smaller boats she left behind earlier should be able to carry pressure longer and close the gap. The other boat with a good shot at line honors should be the Andrews 68 Shindig from Mass Maritime, a much lighter more modern design that can keep her speed in lighter conditions.

Spirit of Bermuda is the sole entry in the Classic Yacht Division. The other 34 entries are in the traditional Founders Division. All skippers and many navigators gathered at Marion’s Tabor Academy for their pre-race briefing and to get their final race packets and scratch sheets. The Founders Division is divided into three classes by ORR handicap. Five of those are using celestial navigation and get a 2% time credit.

Bill Moonan, who is in charge of the start, was one of the first speakers at the meeting. He talked about the start box and sequence and advised everyone that it would most likely be a downwind start. “Don’t rush the line,” he warned. “It won’t matter much if you are a little late crossing. You’ll have plenty of time for mistakes on the course.”

Charles Dunstan talking about the approaches to Bermuda quipped, “and don’t mess up at the finish. Bermuda has 238 miles of reefs.” Boats have never won when they hit the rocks.

The weather predicted for the start is wet, with winds NNW 20-25 knots maybe gusting to 30. There is a 90% chance of precipitation Friday according to 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.

The forecast continues to feature a weak spot in the center of the growing high-pressure system that will cross the course South of the stream. The wind should lighten first from West to East later Sunday and Monday. Another low should come off the coast and improve the wind later in the week but it 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 looks like it will set up on Saturday to give the racers a southeasterly push down the course pretty close to the rhumb line.

Follow all the yachts in the Marion Bermuda Race on the Yellow Brick tracker program sponsored by Kingman Yacht Center available on the Marion Bermuda website

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.

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