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Spirit leads the fleet out at start of Marion Race

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Local entries Spirit of Bermuda and Alice Kay made impressive starts to the 2013 Marion Bermuda Race in Buzzards Bay yesterday.

But it was Shindig, helmed by Massachusetts skipper Michael Reney, that stole the show.

The Andrews 68 made a spectacular downwind start to the 645-mile race, exploding off the line with its spinnaker hoisted surfing along at 17 knots.

Reeney and crew were later clocked doing 22 knots further down the racecourse and at this bistering place could very well crash Monday’s finish line party at St David’s Lighthouse.

In all, the 19th edition of the biennial race got off to an uneventful start under cloudy skies and chilly north, north east breezes.

At the start the thermometer read a cool 58 degrees with the winds blowing between 18-25 knots a far cry from the conditions sailors can expect once they cross the finish line off St David’s Head.

Both local entries began their journeys without incident in their respective divisions before heading towards open seas.

Spirit of Bermuda, the sole boat in the Classic Yacht Division, had the honour of starting first in rolling four to six foot swells before a small gathering of spectator boats.

The 118-foot triple masted sloop crossed the start line on a broad reach with skipper Preston Hutchings at the helm around ten seconds after the starter’s gun had fired, signalling the official start of the race.

Also getting off to a flawless start was skipper George Cubbon and crew of the Hinckley Bermuda 40, Alice Kay, that crossed the start line among a bunch of a fellow C Class yachts in the Founders Division.

“We were very fortunate the wind and the tide were not fighting each other,” said Chairman of the Starting Line Committee Bill Moonan.

“It was relatively flat out there although very windy so it was a relatively comfortable start. It was windy enough that some of the anchors of some of the buoys we put out dragged but nothing to create a problem so in many it was uneventful which is just what you want for a start.”

Moonan added: “It was a lovely start by the Spirit of Bermuda and it was fun to watch them. They have a wonderful crew and all did a marvellous job. All of the boats were respectful of the starting line, nobody was over early.”

Of the 35 registered yachts, only the 32-foot sloop Warm Rain failed to make it to the start.

“We had one boat that never checked in,” Moonan confirmed. “We don’t know the status of it so we assume they dropped out.”

According to unconfirmed reports, it is understood that Warm Rain was scratched on Thursday because of the deaths of two family members of the crew.

The only yacht that perhaps encountered a bit of difficulty during yesterday’s start was the 40-foot sloop August West that ripped its spinnaker as she made her way towards open seas.

All yachts in the race can be tracked via the Yellow Brick tracking programme that's available on the official Marion Bermuda Race website (www.marionbermuda.com).

Co-founded by late Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club (RHADC) Commodore Geoffrey (Dickie) Bird, the Marion Bermuda Race has evolved into a premier ocean race that appeals to a broad range of cruising and racing enthusiasts.

The inaugural race was held in 1977.

Spirit of Bermuda
Photo by Jack Rhind Spirit of Bermuda leads the fleet out of Buzzards Bay at the start of the Marion Bermuda Race yesterday.

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Published June 15, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 14, 2013 at 10:49 pm)

Spirit leads the fleet out at start of Marion Race

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