The new Classic Yacht Division in the Marion-Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race aims to encourage more youth training vessels to participate in the thrill of ocean sailing.

Entrants must be training vessels and classic yachts registered with the American Sail Training Association (ASTA).

Accessible

The trophy is named after Captain Ed Williams of Bermuda, who dedicated much of his life to encouraging young people to sail.

Allan McLean, executive director of the Marion-Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race Association, said: “We created this class as we generally feel very supportive of youth sailing, and have supported organizations in the past that run youth programmes.

“We wanted to match the name on the trophy with the underlying goals of our introduction of the Classic Yacht Division.

“The folks in Bermuda recommended him (the late Captain H. Edward Williams) for the trophy, and the explanation they provided made this seem like a nice fit to everyone.

“Given the fact that the Spirit of Bermuda is owned by a foundation (Bermuda Sloop Foundation) that has this same goal, we see this as consistent with our objectives. It feels a natural mix.”

There were two entrants to the 2013 inaugural Classic Yacht Division race — Spirit and Belle Aventure, but Belle Aventure withdrew in the weeks running up to the event .

“Our goal is that perhaps in the future, hopefully two years from now, we might have a larger number of participants in this division,” said Mr McLean.

“Many of these boats get booked out years in advance, so for us to charter some of the boats and make it a meaningful race it will take more advance planning than we had this year.”

Spinnakers

Mr McLean said the new class was only initiated late last year.

“This all evolved in the fall, which wasn’t enough time for some of these boats to get this event onto their calendars.”

In November the race committee also announced other changes to make the event “more accessible than ever”.

This included increasing the size limits for vessels from 80ft to 100ft LOA (Length Over All). A new division was also created with an unrestricted sail inventory — the Big Yacht Division.

Symmetrical spinnakers and spinnaker poles are also now permitted in the event.

Mr McLean said in November: “The changes broaden eligibility for participation, while maintaining the Corinthian spirit of the race — focused on family and fun, with captains and crew participating for the joy and pleasure of sailing, competition and the camaraderie that accompanies this race.”