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Cruisers invited to Marion Bermuda Race 2013

by Liz Stott 7 Jul 2012 23:22 BST 14 June 2013

Before you know it, you’ll be planning to outfit your sailboat for the highly-anticipated Marion Bermuda Race, scheduled for June 14, 2013, the 37th year of the race. In mid-June every other year, sailors in 32-80 foot Cruising and Racer/Cruising monohull yachts compete in the 645-mile ocean race from Buzzards Bay/Marion, Massachusetts to St. David’s Head, Bermuda. The Race appeals to a broad range of cruising and racing enthusiasts.

The race is quite unique for three reasons. Since its inception in 1977, the Marion Bermuda Race has been a Corinthian event (non-professional yachtsman who sails his own yacht without paid professional skipper/crew). The race is open to all ISAF Group Classifications that are fully in keeping with the Spirit of the Race, and Cat 3 sailors may participate as crew as "cruising friends" provided they are not being paid. Yachts are accepted by invitation after applications have been submitted. An eligible yacht must exhibit a design of demonstrated seaworthiness and be appropriate for a Category 1 race. The captain and crew shall be of demonstrated competency for an ISAF Category 1 race, with the majority being able to adequately manage the yacht and shall have had prior experience with offshore passages or races of at least 250 miles.

Another aspect that sets Marion Bermuda apart is the opportunity for “purists” to sacrifice the luxury of electronics in lieu of using only Celestial Navigation – the navigation method upon which the race was originally founded. Celestial Navigation uses "sights," or angular measurements taken between a celestial body (the sun, the moon, a planet or a star) and the visible horizon, and offers the racers who choose this navigation method a feeling of great accomplishment, as well as a 2% adjustment to their ORR rating.

Lastly, the Marion Bermuda Race is purely a race for Cruising yachts and Racer/Cruising yachts, as defined in the Notice of Race, “must have an enclosed cabin and be fitted out for comfortable cruising, including permanent bunks, a permanently installed and enclosed toilet, and permanently installed cooking facilities suitable for use at sea. Her hull length, exclusive of spars or projections fixed to the hull, such as bowsprits or pulpits is between 32.0 and 80.0 feet. Moveable ballast is not permitted.”

But don’t let “Cruising” lead you to believe it’s “easy”. It’s still a 645 mile ocean race where competitors are crossing the Gulf Stream and dealing with its often extreme weather nuances and challenges.

The Marion Bermuda Race is an International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Category 1 race. The ISAF description of a Category 1 race is: “A race of long distance, well offshore, in large unprotected bays, and in waters where large waves, strong currents or conditions leading to rapid onset of hypothermia are possible, where yachts must be completely self-sufficient for extended periods of time, capable of withstanding heavy storms and prepared to meet serious emergencies without the expectation of outside assistance.”

All yachts are divided into Racing Classes of similar performance characteristics based on their ORR rating, with each racing class having a separate start. A yacht must have its ORR rating certified by US Sailing. In addition to the Racing Classes based on similar performance, Marion Bermuda also features “Races within the Race” with the following categories:

Celestial - A yacht with a navigator skilled and experienced in celestial navigation at sea may elect to compete using celestial navigation. Yachts that finish the race and comply with the celestial navigation requirements will be awarded a favorable 2.0% adjustment to their ORR rating. Yachts compete to win the Beverly Yacht Club (BYC) Polaris Trophy.

Family - A family yacht has aboard a crew of five or more with all or all-but-one being members of a single family. “Family” is defined as persons who are related to a common grandparent, and their spouses. Yachts compete to win the Beverly Family Trophy.

Double-handed, Short-Handed, or All-Female - Yachts may elect to compete in the double, short-handed and all-female competition and as such, compete to win the Double-Handed Trophy, the L. Byron Kingery, Jr. Trophy and the Commodore Faith Paulsen Trophy, respectively.

The Marion Bermuda Race encourages consistent participation in ocean racing, and as such, also provides trophies for those who compete in the Newport Bermuda Race and in the Stonington-Boothbay (Lobster Run) Race.

Bermuda Ocean Cruising Yacht Trophy - Awarded to the captain who has the best finish in consecutive Marion Bermuda and Newport Bermuda (Cruising Division) races.

New England Offshore Racing Trophy - Awarded to the Captain who has the best finish in consecutive Marion Bermuda and Stonington, CT to Boothbay Harbor, ME Races.

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