"Sometimes the Handicap System Works in Your Favour"
The Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race 2015 finished with a flourish in Halifax on Thursday, July 9th. A Navy band played, a table full of historic silver racing trophies were presented and crews had their pictures taken for posterity.
The winners of the two big divisions in this year's race have surprisingly different racing stories to tell.
The IRC winner is an ultra-fast 40 foot built of high tech materials and designed for speed. Spookie is owned by Steve and Heidi Benjamin of Norwalk, Conn and has a long list of wins on its record. Spookie was in the front of the fleet for most of the race and crossed the finish line first, in addition to winning its class and division over 14 other entries. Benjamin's boat covered the race course in 52 hours 24 minutes 25 seconds.
Saraphie,is this year's PHRF division winner. The Whitby 42 is owned by Bruce Hancock and sails out of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. The boat is designed for cruising, not racing and is sailed by a group of Hancock's friends. But this year Hancock walked away with an armful of prizes despite being one of the last boats to finish the race.
Hancock explains it this way: “There was a large element of luck with the conditions. It suited our boat. Also, we've had the same crew together since 2012 and they've come a long way. We've been pushing it beyond what is expected of this boat." Like most of the racers, Hancock recalls being almost becalmed for long hours while crossing the Gulf of Maine on Monday. "A puff would come along and we'd make some progress so we weren't just floating."
Saraphie was one of the last boats to arrive in Halifax, finishing on Wednesday afternoon after more than 71 hours on the race course. "Sometimes the handicap system works in your favour! We raced a good race. It was some of the most enjoyable sailing I have ever had. The flat sea suits our boat, the marine life included sharks and a breaching whale, great weather - all in all, it was a fantastic number of days." To top off his sailing success, Hancock was one of two people to win a draw for a week's cruise on Star Clippers. "I think I should buy a lottery ticket today, too." he said while heading off to celebrate with his crew.
Other division winners include: Actaea, a in ORR, and Kinsale in PHC Cruising. One multihull participated in this year’s race – Zenyatta is a Gunboat 62 catamaran. The prize giving ceremony took place at the RNSYS Spar Loft.
RNSYS Commodore Ed Steeves entertained the audience with a story about his own race experience, which he expects won't be forgotten. He was part of the crew on Illicit. "We were charging along to the finish line when the crew had the idea of having the Commodore drive the last mile to the finish line."We had visions of powering across the line in regal form with the kite up at 10-12 knots." But it wasn't to be. "Within 15 seconds of me taking the wheel, I managed to wipe the boat out, break a running block for the kite, and we limped across the finish line."
The last trophy presented was a silver "Cook's Plate" to Sedna, which crossed the line on Thursday morning, more than 91 hours after leaving Marblehead. Skipper Greg Kyle wasn't sorry to get the award - "It's wonderful to finish!" Kyle does a lot of cooking on board Sedna and was glad to be walking away with a keepsake bread board to mark his first Marblehead Race.
The Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race takes place every two years. It is co-sponsored by the Boston Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.
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