Sailing: Cordelia Racing With Roy & Gail

June 21, 2019

[Written by Talbot Wilson]

What’s it like racing offshore with Roy and Gail Greenwald on Cordelia, the overall winner of the 2019 Marion Bermuda Race? In a champagne cork-popping get-together in the cockpit of the 42 foot Valiant double ender, crewmate Daniel Begg pegged it.

“Awe, Man!” Begg quipped, “It’s just a lot of fun. They do a lot of work. They are really dedicated. It’s just an honor to watch it in motion, to be a part of it wherever you can and take direction when needed. Stay quiet and watch them dance.”

[Laughter from the the Greenwalds and Dana Oviatt, Cordelia’s other crew member]

“I’m serious,” Begg says. “They work very well together. They have their roles. They stick to it. They trust each other and they trust us. It’s awesome.”

Roy Greenwald added, “We’ve put 40,000 miles on Cordelia. We’ve been across both oceans so we kinda know the boat.”

Winners All: Daniel Begg, crew — Roy Greenwald, skipper — Gail Greenwald, navigator — Dana Oviatt, back- up navigator & crew; Roy and Gail Greenwald’s Valiant 42 Cordelia finished first in class and first in fleet on corrected time in the 2019 Marion Bermuda Race. The Greenwalds sail out of Mairon MA. Cordelia is also the Class D winner. Photo by fran Grenon, Spectrum Photo

Marion Bermuda Race June 20 2019 (1)

Roy is skipper and Gail is navigator. Of their roles in the dance Roy says, “I make the boat go fast. Gail tells me where to go.”

Roy described going out of Buzzards Bay in the 25-30 knot winds and how they fared down the line to Bermuda.“For us, we sail out of Marion. We know Buzzards Bay well. It was blowing and when you have the option [not racing] of just going out for fun, we’d go to Provincetown, turn and run with it. We don’t normally beat into that stuff unless we have to.”

“Cordelia doesn’t point with the racers,” Roy continued. “If we can get out of Buzzards Bay two or three from the back of the pack, we know we have done OK. We didn’t sweat the start… it’s a long race. The crew was ready to tack and we had maybe six tacks out of the Bay.”

One of the moves that worked out well for Cordelia was to tuck in over by Penikese Island. “We tacked right up alongside of Penikese. As soon as we could clear it, we tucked back in. The boats that sailed out in the middle of the bay had more adverse current and that helped us. We had less current.”

“After Sow & Pigs [reef] we didn’t tack a single time. We sailed the entire way on starboard tack. That’s our fastest tack. It was a godsend.”

“As we approached Bermuda to finish, we were pretty sure we were going to be able to carry the starboard tack to Kitchen Shoals… that’s the beacon that marks the east-northeast corner of the reef line around Bermuda… and continue on starboard possibly to the next mark, Mills Buoy. Then to get around the Sea Buoy and sail to the finish off St. David’s Lighthouse, we were all ready to tack.”

Roy and Gail Greenwald’s Valiant 42 Cordelia has finished first in fleet on corrected time in the 2019 Marion Bermuda Race. She will win the Goslings Founders Trophy. The Greenwalds sail out of Mairon MA. Cordelia is also the Class D winner. Photo by fran Grenon, Spectrum Photo

Start of the 2019 Marion Bermuda Race

“When we got to Kitchen, the wind started to clock to the west-southwest,” he chuckled, “and we were able to carry it right on to the finish line. I think it couldn’t have happened better.”

Preparation is always a key element in winning. Cordelia was definitely well prepared. Roy and Gail Greenwald have done four Bermuda 1-2 races. Roy sails solo to Bermuda and Gail joins in for the return. They know their boat well.

Cordelia was one of 16 entries using celestial navigation only. Ironically, all of the class winners were celestially navigated.

The Marion Bermuda Race encourages celestial navigation as part of its core concept of maintaining the art of seamanship among amateur sailors. This is the base upon which this race is founded. Boats that elect to turn off their electronic navigation systems earn a 3% credit off of their elapsed time for the race. Then the corrected time is calculated. Marion Bermuda is the only US offshore race to do this.

For prime navigator Gail Greenwald and Dane Oviatt, crew and back-up navigator, sailing celestially meant careful and precise preparation.

Gail explained, “The last race we did celestially was the 2007 Marion Bermuda Race. I had to get my sextant out and clean it up. I had to review my old materials. We sailed to Nantucket and I took some practice sights. I updated all my performance reductions.”

The classic schooner Tabor Boy from Tabor Academy in Marion MA finished as the winner in the Classic Division. This race was Tabor Boy’s first Marion Bermuda adventure. Ship’s Master James Geil said, “We’ll be back in 2021 and we’ll help bring more Classic Division entries.” Photo by Fran Grenon, Spectrum Photo

Start of the 2019 Marion Bermuda Race

Back in 2007, some navigators used a device called a Celestaire Calculator to reduce sights. Gail didn’t use one. She never used software for calculations up until now. This year she bought a software package that would help her with sight reductions.

“I reduce about one-third of the sights by hand,” she said. “Then I used the software to check the results. During the last part of the race I was getting tired and I used the software.”

“Dana Oviatt brought his sextant along and helped with the sights. too. It was a team effort,” she noted.

Gail had a whole note book she put together for the race. “In advance of the race you have to figure out which stars are going to be out so you can start looking for them. One of the key things— because the seas were rough— was having the altitudes and azimuth already calculated. We were able to preset sextants and snap our sights quicker. That’s where preparation really paid off.”

“We had a pretty bright sky in the evening [Full Moon]. We got decent star sights but we were always challenged. I used Jupiter once [it was right by the moon] and I also used the moon once.”

“We had trouble getting precise sights the first couple of nights.” Gail noted. “After that we were spot on. We knew exactly where we were. We turned our GPS on about 28 miles from Bermuda [50 miles is allowed] for safety on the approach around the reefs.”

Kiwi Spirit was the line honors leader from start to finish in the 2019 Marion Bermuda Race. The Farr 63 finished off St. David’s Lighthouse at 2:27:59 Tuesday. Photo by Talbot Wilson

Marion Bermuda Race June 20 2019 (4)

Roy, the skipper, pointed out, “I was glad to have the GPS going on the final approach. We knew we were kind of in the running [for prizes], and I wanted a clean shot to the marks. I didn’t want to be three miles from my marks.” Three extra miles would have added a half hour or so to Cordelia’s finish time.

2019 was another small boat race to Bermuda. The light winds in a high-pressure system moved east through the faster, bigger boats and maybe slowed them a little, but not enough to trigger the ’anti-bias’ adjustment.

In 2007, Greenwald remembered that they and other slower boats were leading the fleet overall according to the public tracker. They got caught in a windless hole and were becalmed, going 0.0kts for nine hours only 75 miles from Bermuda.

“We were sitting in the hole,” Greenwald said, “and the big boat crews were at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club bar catching us. Sometimes it goes the other way. If you looked at the weather you could probably predict it.”

“You do need to sail a good race to win your class.” Roy added, “And then you need to be lucky to do well in the fleet.”

Cordelia’s overall first in class and first in fleet finish in the 2019 Marion Bermuda Race comes down to the essentials of ocean racing— a solid boat, preparation, teamwork, and having fun… and maybe getting a nice wind shift at the end… and of course, a spot of luck.

Class B winner and second in the Founders Division was the US Naval Academy’s Gallant, a Pearson Composite Navy 44 skippered by Christian Hoffman. Photo by Fran Grenon, Spectrum Photo

Start of the 2019 Marion Bermuda Race

Founder’s Division

Class A—

  • 1. Abigail— Robert Buck, Aquidneck 52, Marion MA – Celestial
  • 2. Kinship — Francis Selldorf, Baltic 52, Padanaram MA
  • 3. Sunflower — Mark Lenci, Beneteasu Oceanis 523, Harpswell ME

Class B —

  • 1. Gallant, Christian Hoffman, Navy 44, USNA Annapolis MD, Celestial
  • 2. Momentum, Paul Kanev, Hinckley Sou’wester 51, Newport RI
  • 3. Defiance, George Hamilton/Kevin Navarro, Navy 44 MKII, USNA Annapolis MD, Celestial

Class C—

  • 1. Pinnacle— Peter Torosian, Tartan 4100, Rye NH, Celestial
  • 2. Escapade II— Tom Bowler, Morris 46, Ocean, Marion MA
  • 3. Scappare— David LeBlanc, Catalina 42 MKII, Stillhouse Cove RI

Class D—

  • 1. Cordelia— Roy Greenwald, Valiant 42, Marion MA, Celestial
  • 2. Frolic— Ray Cullum, Dixon 44, Marion MA, Celestial
  • 3. Silhouette— David Caso, Cherubini 44, Portsmouth RI

Classic Division

Overall Class and division

  • 1. Tabor Boy— James Geil, Schooner 92, Tabor Academy Marion MA, Celestial

DNS Spirit of Bermuda—Jordan Smith, Tall Ship 118, Dockyard, Bermuda

The official source for race information… entry list, scratch sheet, official finishing, official scoring, official prize list… is on the web site.

Look at Race News area below the banner picture and click on the Icons and the Photo.

Results here

Winner in class C was the Tartan 4100 Pinnacle, skippered by Peter Torosian of Rye NH, Celestial. Photo by Fran Grenon, Spectrum Photo

Start of the 2019 Marion Bermuda Race

Handicap Adjustments

The Founders Division boats sailed under a new “anti-bias” version of the ORR handicapping system. The new system designed by race organizers in collaboration with the Offshore Racing Association [ORA] should have reduced the bias against faster boats by eliminating the “Parking Lot” effect.

The “Parking Lot” effect is the bias which occurs when faster boats loose time against slower boats in low or no-wind conditions usually experienced south of the Gulf Stream and north of Bermuda and often as evening falls on boats at the mouth of Buzzards Bay.

The “Parking Lot” adjustment was applied as a time correction factor based on actual vs. predicted performance of the first three boats to finish. All of the race details, including an explanation of the handicap correction system and formula, for the race are published in the Sailing Instructions.

Races within the Race

Competition for special awards is a unique attraction for the Marion-Bermuda Race. The Notice of Race has all the details.

Go to the website for photos and descriptions of the trophies and the competition for them.

The R&W Rope Rigging Solutions Team Trophy is offered for established Yacht Clubs or Sailing organizations that form a team of three member yachts. The team whose three yachts have the lowest corrected time total will be the winner.

Yachts sailing with a crew of two, a crew of three or four or an all-female crew of any number may compete in the double-handed, short-handed, and all-female competitions respectively. Prizes are the Double-Handed Trophy, the short-handed L. Bryon Kingery, Jr. Memorial Trophy and the Commodore Faith Paulsen Trophy for the ladies.

A “family” yacht racing for the Beverly Family Trophy is one with a crew of five or more with all or all-but-one being members of a single household or a single family may race for the family prize. Persons related to a common grandparent and spouses of these “family”, too.

The Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy encourages youth participation. A “Youth” yacht has at least four [4] youths aboard with at least 66% of the crew qualified as youths. A youth sailor must be 16 years of age or older but not more than 23 years old by June 14, 2019. One or more adults at least 23 years old by June 14, 2019 must be on board.

The Beverly Yacht Club Polaris Trophy is a prize for stargazers. If a yacht has elected to be celestially navigated, she will receive a 3% favorable adjustment to her ORR rating.

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