51 Boats Enter Marion Bermuda Yacht Race

May 23, 2017

[Written by  Talbot Wilson]

Entry closes for the 40th anniversary and 21st biennial Marion Bermuda Race this Saturday, May 27, 2017 and all information required on the entry forms must be completed by then.

Entries now stand at 51 yachts. The start of this blue-water classic is June 9 from Marion, The race finishes in the midst of America’s Cup activity in Bermuda some four or five days later.

Marion Bermuda offers a prize in honor of past Commodore Faith Paulsen for the fastest corrected time by a boat with an all female crew. The Commodore Faith Paulsen Trophy was initiated in 2011. Since that time it has been won twice by Anne Kolker and her all female crews aboard  ‘Etoile’ her Stellar 52. Photo Credit: Fran Grenon Spectrum Photography

Marion Bermuda Race May 22 2017 (3)

Entries are up slightly since 2015 when 48 boats took the Marion challenge, racing the 645nm race from Marion, Massachusetts south out of Buzzard’s Bay to the finish line of St. David’s Lighthouse in Bermuda. In 2013 the race had 35 entries.

The 2017 edition of this classic will see boats ranging from ‘Selkie’, G.J Bradish’s Morris Ocean 32.5 footer from Boston to the Hinckley SW 59 ‘Pescatore’ sailed by George Tougas of Mattapoisett, MA with a Youth Trophy team. Nine of the boats, including ‘Selkie’ will sail in the Celestial Navigation Division. In its true Corinthian spirit, the Marion Bermuda Race is the only ocean race to Bermuda that offers a celestial navigation prize.

‘Etoile’, skippered by Anne Kolker and sailed with a yacht full of ladies, won the Commodore Faith Paulsen Trophy for the best performance by an all-female crew. Photo Credit: Fran Grenon Spectrum Photography

Marion Bermuda Race May 22 2017 (2)

Marion Bermuda also offers a prize in honor of past Commodore Faith Paulsen for the fastest corrected time by a boat with an all female crew. The Commodore Faith Paulsen Trophy was initiated in 2011.

Since that time it has been won twice by Anne Kolker and her all female crews aboard ‘Etoile’ her Stellar 52. Dr. Kolker recalls, “My first MBR race was in 2009 on Maren Erskin’s ‘Cayenne’ with an all female crew. We started the race but turned back due to weather considerations. Since then I have done subsequent races on my boat, Etoile. This race, 2017, will be my fourth on ‘Etoile’.”

Nine of the boats will sail in the Celestial Navigation Division. In its true Corinthian spirit, the Marion Bermuda Race is the only ocean race to Bermuda that offers a celestial navigation prize. Andy Howe navigated ‘Ti’ in 2015 and will be aboard Ray Cullum’s Frolic this year. Photo Credit: Andy Howe.

Marion Bermuda Race May 22 2017 (1)

“The biggest challenge of the race is finding competition for our all female team. We would love more competition. I have no problem finding crew,” she adds.

“Although one might think there is a strength issue for dealing with a 52 foot boat, ‘Etoile’ is equipped with power winches and roller furling main and jib. We have had our share of mechanical problems. We have either fixed them or found a work around solution.

“ I insist that all crew members are intimately familiar with the boat including sail handling, crew overboard and generator function to charge the batteries. Etoile is a complex boat with sophisticated electronics and multiple battery banks and leisure furl main sail.

She proudly admitted that, “In 2013, we won the Ancient Mariner Award for the oldest average age crew.”

“The special reward for sailing to Bermuda, she said, “is arriving there.”

“Over 600 miles of sailing is a thrilling accomplishment that is never the same as any prior trip. In addition to increased competition for us, I would love to see more women get involved in offshore racing. Although I do not dedicate the race to a specific cause, I hope to inspire other women by example to sail offshore and join the race.”

“There is a great camaraderie in the Marion race as I have come to know many of the people who run and organize the race. I am a member of the Blue Water Sailing Club, one of the co-sponsors of the race. Additionally, I was recently asked to join the Board of Trustees of the Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race Association.”

All of the ‘Etoile’ crew are experience offshore sailors returning for another voyage on ‘their’ yacht. Watch Captain, Deb Gale-Malone has done eight Marion Bermuda Races and two from Newport. This will be her 11th ocean race to Bermuda.

Gale-Malone has sailed twice with an all female crew on ‘Cassiopeia’ as watch captain, once on ‘Cayanne’ with all women and this will be her fourth all girl voyage on Etoile, Co skipper with Anne in 2011 as it was her first race.

The rest of the crew will be Watch Captain Pat Marshall, the Navigator Garet Wohl, and crew members Solvej Freitas, Katherine Ainsworth and Deb Watson.

Mrs. Gale-Malone commented on sailing to Bermuda, “I’m always excited about sailing offshore, you get the best and worst of conditions in one sail. However,I think having the America’s Cup on the ‘Rock’ adds a great deal of excitement. There will be so much activity at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club and on the island.

“The AC racers are the rock stars of the sport of yacht racing. The AC committee has tried to market it to a diverse crowd. The dynamics of the two events are so different. I know the Cup races are a big draw. But what we are doing is pretty darn cool as well. There is nothing like being offshore, experiencing the elements and surroundings, especially on the 0200 watch.”

The Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club that hosts the race in Bermuda is also Bermuda’s home away from home for the America’s Cup defenders, the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco, and their defending team, Oracle Team USA. The club will be a hub of activity not to be missed. Actual racing in the America’s Cup Match start June 17, the day of the Marion Bermuda prizegiving.

While Marion Bermuda Racers are in Bermuda, the America’s Cup Superyacht Regatta runs June 13-15. The J Class Regatta is June 16, 19 & 20. And Red Bull Youth America’s Cup races are spread from June 12 to June 20.

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