The winning crew from Lilla. *Photo by Maria Burk
The winning crew from Lilla. *Photo by Maria Burk
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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22: The last thing the crew of Lilla might have expected heading into this year’s Marion to Bermuda Race was completing the 645 mile ocean crossing in less than three days on elapsed time.

But that’s exactly what Simon De Pietro’s Briand 76 accomplished, shattering the race record by more than three hours, to claim overall line honours at the first attempt in the biennial race.

“We weren’t thinking about breaking any records before we left. But as we got like two days in we were looking good,” De Pietro told the Bermuda Sun.

“The weather forecast was looking pretty good, we had 25-30 knots winds and we were in the right place – which is what you need. But regardless whether we were here first or not I really like the 68 hours.

“The Gulf Stream was a little lumpy. It was okay for us because we are reasonably heavy, but I feel for the guys in the 40 footers.”

De Pietro said his yacht could not have arrived in local waters in record time had it not been for the combined efforts of a well-drilled crew that included wife Nancy.

“I may be the skipper ….. but she is the real skipper,” he smiled. “We had a great crew.

“We have some really enthusiastic guys who are serious and really want to make it work.

“We are not like a full professional team. But we have some really good sailors with really good skills who like each other and all like to win.”

Success

De Pietro’s Class ‘A’ entry started the race at 1:30pm EDT from Buzzard’s Bay Marion, Massachusetts last Friday and officially crossed the finish line at St David’s Head, Bermuda at 11:28am on Monday.

Having arrived perhaps far earlier than expected, De Pietro and crew had the luxury of sipping champagne at a cocktail reception at St David’s Lighthouse as the second yacht (Brigand) to finish crossed the finish line in fading light.

“Very seldom does something like this happen,” commented Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club (RHADC) flag officer Charles Dunstan.

“This has happened only twice and certainly having a boat finish during the volunteers’ party was a nice touch to those who work so hard to make the race a success.”

According to preliminary results Lilla completed the race in a corrected time of three days, 23 hours, 48 minutes and 26 seconds on handicap.

At press time last night five yachts (all Class ‘A’) had completed the race while five others had withdrawn, including Ronald Wisner’s Hotspur II that is still making its way towards Bermuda.

For the first time in race history there are no local yachts or sailors competing in the Marion to Bermuda Race inaugurated in 1977.