By Ray Cullum
Being a sailor and a self-described racing sailor, I wondered, “Who wouldn’t want a front row seat to the America’s Cup?” The America’s Cup Event Authority had several options for the venue for the 35th AC in 2017, and they selected the beautiful island of Bermuda. So, one might ask, “Why Bermuda?”
Last year’s Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event in Bermuda was an exciting preview of the 35th America’s Cup in 2017, and participants in the Marion Bermuda Race will have prime seating for all of the action. © ACEA 2015/Photo Ricardo Pinto
Well, the racing will take place on the Great Sound, a terrific enclosed body of water that offers flat seas and consistent wind…perfect for foiling multihulls. Bermuda is well known for its hospitality…wonderful restaurants, beautiful hotels and extensive use of their greatest resource, the water. Plus, they have a very engaged population that do all in their power to make you feel welcome while you are on their island.
So, how do you get to have that front row seat? Well, you can fly there – it’s only an hour and a half flight. You could book a cruise ship…fun, but doesn’t lend itself to the full island experience. The best way for we sailors is to sail there, and what better way to do that than with 60 or 70 of your closest friends as part of the Marion Bermuda Race.
In 1977, the Beverly Yacht Club, Blue Water Sailing Club and the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club hosted the first Marion Bermuda Race and have been the sponsoring clubs ever since. Next year is the 40th anniversary of this biennial race, and nothing could be a better anniversary celebration than to offer an opportunity to see the finals of the America’s Cup. So, how does the Marion Bermuda Race Committee plan to make the 40th anniversary race the most outstanding one ever?
First, the organizers have made the unprecedented move of changing the start date of the race. The date has been moved up a week, to June 9, 2017, to give participants an opportunity to see the America’s Cup Finals, which start the weekend following the fleet’s arrival in Bermuda. You will be able to view all of the Finals, which take place only on the weekends. Not only will you be able to enjoy the America’s Cup; there will be other racing every day in the preceding week including the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, J Boat racing, and a superyacht regatta.
If that’s not enough, we will have tours of the America’s Cup compound, a spectator boat for all of the racing, talks at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club given by America’s Cup sailors, and a plethora of events during the week specifically for Marion Bermuda Race participants and their families.
Two of the biggest questions you might have are, “Where will I stay during this very busy time on the island, and where will I keep my boat? The Marion Bermuda Race Committee has met with the 2017 America’s Cup Committee and they have agreed to support a reservation system for accommodations for Marion Bermuda Race participants. This will come on-line in the fall of 2016. The Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club will extend their offer of dockage and mooring space for the week after the race, allowing race participants to stay during the Cup Finals. There are also additional moorings being made available by the island’s Department of Marine and Harbor Services.
Being in Bermuda for the 35th America’s Cup is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Getting there with the Marion Bermuda Race just doesn’t get any better. To learn more, visit marionbermuda.com.
Ray Cullum is the Public Relations/Media Director of the Marion to Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race.