400 years of non-maritime history: This wreck of the Sea Venture was recreated by race veteran Paul Mccoy and his team The White Heron to celebrate the island’s 400th anniversary. *Photo courtesy of Bruce Barritt
400 years of non-maritime history: This wreck of the Sea Venture was recreated by race veteran Paul Mccoy and his team The White Heron to celebrate the island’s 400th anniversary. *Photo courtesy of Bruce Barritt
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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1: A Non-Mariners Race ship is the only ship found in international and territorial waters that is considered a wreck before it sinks.

Only the most foolhardy of crewmen have dared to sail aboard such shamefully un-seaworthy crafts… or rafts, as is often the case.

Neither raging sea nor perilous reef is needed to cast them to the ocean floor — a small ripple often does the trick shortly after the starting line. That is, of course, if they make it to the starting line.

Their inherent non-seaworthiness steers them to dishonour their own race motto: “The Sea Shall Not Have Them. The Sea Does Not Want Them”, as one by one they sink to the bottom.

And, as a dishonour to the general rules of sportsmanship, the participants are prone to offering bribes of cold beer (and even women) to the judges to ensure a first place spot. To add insult to injury many will attempt to destroy their competitors’ crafts.

Political satire is the rule of the day and the most amusing headlines of the year are replayed in all their glory in the form of a non-craft.

By the very rules of The Non-Mariners Race, the crews are forbidden to use standard seafaring methods — no oars, sails or motors are permitted.

One non-mariners diehard Paul Maccoy, who works for the Freisenbruch-Meyer Group, has entered the race some 25 times and claims some of the most spectacular entries in the race’s history.

In 2009, he and his team The White Heron, named after the Warwick public house owned by Tinny McCann he frequented, built a mini replica of the sinking tall ship the Sea Venture with political pokes written on all the sails (pictured).

Maccoy told the Bermuda Sun: “As a dedicated non-mariner, I’ve enjoyed the fact that Bermuda owes her origins to a shipwreck. It makes one feel that one is carrying on a proud tradition.” 

One of Maccoy’s first ever non-crafts, some 20 years ago, was a replica of a biplane (pictured top left) in response to talks about Bermuda having its own airline. 

“We did ‘Um Um Air’ — it was a fun thing to have a poke at. The big challenge was always getting the crafts up to Mangrove Bay — I had a little 700cc Subaru in those days!”

Maccoy claims he and the White Heron crew have won 20 of the races but, the rules of the race are so flippant it is difficult to decipher who the winner is.

He used that defect to his advantage to trick the local press.

“Of course we non-won. We managed to get in the Royal Gazette and we have even had ourselves non announced two days before the race on radio –—VSB, I think.

“We have always bribed and blackmailed judges. Judges have been photographed in compromising positions with penguins.”

Maccoy won't be taking part in this year’s race but has not ruled out entering in future years.

“You never know,” he says. “Never say never.”

One of the first ever entrants was by early Non-Mariners Race committee member David Exell and his friend Brian Willis. It was a fabulous giant floating guitar carrying two grown men wearing Beatles wigs.

Before he entered politics, Senator Michael Dunkley entered a non-craft, said race MC Bruce Barritt. “That’s going way back, he took down an old wall, Bermuda stones, and floated them on some palettes and it was called ‘Sitting On The Wall’ or something.”

Others mentioned by the original non-mariners include ‘GP1’ which satirised the PLP at the advent of the GP fleet switching to BMWs. 

When Dr Brown’s son visited the Playboy mansion almost all the non-mariners wore bunnie ears. Ewart Brown was made a rocket to send him on his way after retirement in 2010 and the UBP took a hit last year with the ‘United Swan Party’ poking fun at the fact only two remaining members were named Swan.

Anyone who wants to be can download an entry form via www.sandysboatclub.com. Entry is $25 per non craft, proceeds go towards Salvation Army and the Eliza Dolittle Society.