Marion Bermuda Race To Start On Friday

June 8, 2017

The clock is counting down to this Friday’s start of the 40th anniversary Marion Bermuda Race.

The 51-boat fleet in the 645nm race from Marion, Massachusetts heading south out of Buzzard’s Bay to the finish line of St. David’s Lighthouse in Bermuda will arrive in Bermuda just in time for the start of the America’s Cup Match.

All entries this year are in the Founders Division. The warning signal is scheduled for June 9, 2017 at 1200 EDT. Classes will start at 15-minute intervals.

Andy Howe, celestial navigator on Ray Cullum’s ‘Frolic’, commented on last minute preparations and his kit, saying, “As navigator I’ve been keeping an eye on the Gulf Stream for a few weeks, and before heading to Marion I will plot the latest positions and begin to think about routing. Not many interesting features this year, but it is still important to have an understanding of where it has been and where it is going.

I went over my sextant this winter and replaced a mirror. And I took quick look at the Nautical Almanac to check the state of the moon [full], a review of the tables, and a few test reductions using a terrific new “Celestial” iPhone app.

Andy Howe, Navigator aboard Ray Cullum’s ‘Frolic”

Andy Howe Bermuda June 2017

“I’ll bring along warm clothes for the first 48 hours, then enough changes to avoid becoming persona non grata on the boat. Plus a few things for staying on the island to watch the America’s Cup.”

Temperature in Marion of Friday will be about 60ºF. In Bermuda next week when they finish it will be close to 80ºF. That’s a good reason for sailing south.

Deb Gayle is a watch captain aboard ‘Etoile’, skippered by Dr. Anne Kolker, with an all woman crew. They are focused on detail and safety. She explained their planning and preparation, saying: “Aside from provisioning, stowing, and making sure the lifelines, sails, preventers, and deck are in order, we are again running through all electronic connections, radio, weather, and all to make sure that they are registering properly, and ensuring the refrigeration and generator are working.”

‘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. © Fran Grenon Spectrum Photography

ETOILE Bermuda June 2017

“I’ve also walked the deck checking for anything loose that has to be tightened or sharp that must be taped. Aactually I do that each time I go on watch during a race or delivery.

“Additionally, when the boat gets delivered to Marion on Wednesday, I need to put an attachment on the downhaul and tweak it as I wasn’t happy with the way it was behaving when we did wing-and-wing practice last weekend. I’ll run the jack lines, and check them a number of times before and during the race.”

“And, even though we have a fantastic navigator in Garet Wohl, I’m reviewing the weather and Buzzards Bay tidal currents, Gulf Stream analysis, laminating the sailing instructions including the finish line in case the paper copies get wet. On Thursday, I will review everything with Garet, who generally explains ‘strategy’ to the crew as well.

“Our captain, Anne Kolker, does not scrimp on safety gear. If the boat needs something or need to have work done on it, it’s done. We have all the required safety gear and more.

The 40th Anniversary Marion Bermuda Race starts Friday June 9 with 51 entries signed up to race. Photo by Talbot Wilson

Marion Bermuda Race June 2017

“We upgraded our VHF system this year with the latest technology that interfaces with the other electronics. We go through our ‘grab’ bag each season and ensure all safety equipment is current and up to date. Anne is a physician, so you can be sure we have a well-stocked medical kit.

“We also have a very hard rule to wear harnesses and tether in when we’re topside; we have a safety line rigged from the companionway across the bridge-deck to the cockpit as an attachment point as we realized in our first ocean race from Stonington, CT to Booth Bay, ME that there was a five foot part where we were unable to be secured to the boat. That was fixed quickly.

“Each crewmember is responsible for individual safety gear as it’s usually personal preference. I have a Spinlock safety life vest/harness that has a built in knife and strobe. It’s very comfortable and I don’t think twice about wearing it. I also have a double-ended tether.

“This year I bought an MOB1 AIS devise that is attached to the Spinlock and calibrated into Etoile’s AIS. I have a pouch attached to the Spinlock that has a knife, some line, and SPF lip gloss. I have a good quality flashlight and headlamp. Aside from that, boots, foulies, polar fleece and turtlenecks for north of the Gulf Stream, hats, and sunscreen.

“I also have a stuffed moose that my friend Larraine gave me on my first race in 2001; Mr. Moose has been with me on all my offshore ventures. He has more offshore miles than most people!”

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