By Talbot Wilson
The 2019 Marion Bermuda Race is in the books. Thirty-nine Founders Division entries and two Classic Division boats lined up for their starts in Buzzards Bay on Friday, June 14. One of the classics failed to start, but sailed with the fleet heading south in Buzzards Bay for the finish in Bermuda and the hospitality of the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club.
The race started with a gusty beat out of Buzzards Bay. Some boats, like the Riley family’s scratch boat Kiwi Spirit, suffered gear failures in the 30-knot gusts. The tack of their mainsail blew out and they had to sail the rest of the race with shortened sail. Kiwi Spirit was first to finish but was off the podium on handicap in class and finished 37, second to last, in fleet.
On the course, one yacht – Mahinia Kai, an Oyster 54 skippered by Arthur Haubner and Arthur Auclair of Salem, NH – withdrew with a steering malfunction. They headed back to Newport RI.
The Marion Bermuda Race is the only offshore race from a U.S. port that offers prizes for boats that turn off their electronics and steer by celestial navigation only until they are 50 miles from the finish. Fifteen boats elected to sail celestially, including the winners of all four classes and both divisions.
The finish line committee at St David’s Lighthouse in Bermuda had their hands full on the fourth day, Tuesday, June 18. The first boat finished at 2:27:59 in the morning with an elapsed time of 3 days, 12 hours, 17 minutes and 59 seconds. Thirty more boats finished before midnight. The last seven in the fleet finished before noon the next day. Hotspur II, a Columbia 50 skippered by Ron Wisner of Marion, MA, was last to finish after 4 days 21 hours 47 minutes and 49 seconds.
And then the parties started at the Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club. The marina was full with all the boats, and the club opened its doors to all and offered cookouts, BBQ, live entertainment, Crown & Anchor, and lots of famous Gosling Dark ‘n Stormy cocktails and some Gosling Old Rum, too.
The 22nd running of this classic yacht race wrapped up with the prize giving on the Dinghy Club dock level and a gala dinner under the big top. After welcomes from the Mayor of Hamilton, Mr. Charles Gosling, and the U.S. Consul General Constance Dierman, His Excellency the Governor of Bermuda Mr. John Rankin presented the class, overall and special trophies with RHADC Commodore Willie Forbes.
At the gala dinner attended by some 300 guests, the skipper and crew of Tabor Boy, Tabor Academy’s 92-foot schooner (Marion, MA) issued a challenge to David Goodwin of the Bermuda Sloop Foundation to a rematch between Tabor Boy and the 118-foot Spirit of Bermuda.
In 2018, Spirit had challenged Tabor Boy, throwing down the gauntlet – a real gauntlet. This time as the winner, Tabor’s Student Executive Officer Chip Connard threw down the same gauntlet, challenged Spirit and Spirit picked it up. The match is on for the 23rd Marion Bermuda Race, which starts June 18, 2021. Complete results are posted at marionbermuda.com. ■