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Marion line honours in offing for Kiwi Spirit

Young enough, good enough: Jo Riley, skipper of Kiwi Spirit

Kiwi Spirit is expected overnight to have secured line honours in the 22nd Marion Bermuda Race.

Mark Riley’s Farr 63 was within 70 miles of the island at last check and, on its average speed at the time, was anticipated crossing the finish off St David’s Lighthouse as early as 1.30am.

Riley’s 18-year-old son, Jonathan, or “Jo”, is at the helm of Kiwi Spirit, which was the favourite to win the Blue Water Sailing Club Board of Governors Trophy for shortest elapsed time going into the 645-mile race.

Battling for second in line honours are Eugene Berardi’s Mach Buster, a Little Harbor 70, and Robert Buck’s Aquidneck 52, Abigail. They were about 20 miles behind the leader.

A total of 39 boats are competing among five divisions for bragging rights in the biennial race.

Michael Tucker’s Farr 395, Cyclone, is the only Bermuda entry officially competing because the other local boat in the fleet, Spirit of Bermuda, will not count as a finisher, having failed to properly start the race in accordance with the race rules. Spirit went over the start line early and was meant to turn back and restart within a specified time frame.

The first Marion Bermuda Race was held in 1977 and has since evolved into a true offshore challenge for cruising yachts, amateur, family and youth sailors.