FRIDAY, JUNE 22: The Marion Bermuda Race preparations are already in full swing as Bermuda’s docks are filled with Newport racers.

The Marion Bermuda Race is scheduled for June 14, 2013, the 37th year of the race. In mid-June every other year, sailors in 32-80 foot Cruising and Racer/Cruising monohull yachts compete in the 645-mile ocean race from Buzzards Bay/Marion, Massachusetts to St. David’s Head, Bermuda. The Race appeals to a broad range of cruising and racing enthusiasts.

Allan Williams said the race is quite unique for three reasons.

Since its inception in 1977, the Marion Bermuda Race has been a Corinthian event (non-professional yachtsman who sails his own yacht without paid professional skipper/crew). The race is open to all ISAF Group Classifications that are fully in keeping with the Spirit of the Race, and Cat 3 sailors may participate as crew as “cruising friends” provided they are not being paid. 

Yachts are accepted by invitation after applications have been submitted.  

An eligible yacht must exhibit a design of demonstrated seaworthiness and be appropriate for a Category 1 race. 

The captain and crew shall be of demonstrated competency for an ISAF Category 1 race, with the majority being able to adequately manage the yacht and shall have had prior experience with offshore passages or races of at least 250 miles.

He said another aspect that sets Marion Bermuda apart is the opportunity for “purists” to sacrifice the luxury of electronics in lieu of using only Celestial Navigation – the navigation method upon which the race was originally founded. 

Celestial Navigation uses “sights,” or angular measurements taken between a celestial body (the sun, the moon, a planet or a star) and the visible horizon, and offers the racers who choose this navigation method a feeling of great accomplishment, as well as a 2% adjustment to their ORR rating. 

Lastly, the Marion Bermuda Race is purely a race for cruising yachts and Racer/Cruising yachts, as defined in the Notice of Race, “must have an enclosed cabin and be fitted out for comfortable cruising, including permanent bunks, a permanently installed and enclosed toilet, and permanently installed cooking facilities suitable for use at sea.

Her hull length, exclusive of spars or projections fixed to the hull, such as bowsprits or pulpits is between 32.0 and 80.0 feet. Moveable ballast is not permitted.”

Williams said don’t let “Cruising” lead you to believe it’s “easy”. 

It’s still a 645 mile ocean race where competitors are crossing the Gulf Stream and dealing with its often extreme weather nuances and challenges.  

All yachts are divided into Racing Classes of similar performance characteristics based on their ORR rating, with each racing class having a separate start. A yacht must have its ORR rating certified by US Sailing.