Final prep for 23rd Marion Bermuda Race

Published on June 1st, 2023

The 2023 Marion Bermuda Race gets underway on June 16 as 32 entrants take to the racecourse, sailing the 645 nautical mile course from Marion, Massachusetts to the island of Bermuda.

The event is unique in many ways: it consists of all-amateur crew and skippers, the boats must meet certain structural requirements that denote them as cruisers or racer-cruisers, and a number of boats in the race will be sailing to Bermuda using only celestial navigation.

The first edition was in 1977 and has been held every other year since (with the exception of 2021). The race starts off of Centerboard Shoal in Buzzards Bay and finishes off of St. David’s Head Lighthouse.

The course presents a tactical challenge, combining the often-blustery conditions of Buzzards Bay in the beginning with a strategic entry into the Gulf Stream, followed by a final push to Bermuda. The latest addition will have an adjusted scoring matrix and additional race categories.

This year’s edition of the event includes the Spirit of Bermuda, a 118-foot 3-mast Bermuda Rigged Schooner that has utilized the event as both an offshore educational experience as well as for competition for many years. There are also two entries from the United States Naval Academy, crewed by midshipmen from Annapolis.

Thirteen boats plan to sail without the aid of GPS/AIS or other electronic navigational systems, instead relying on the age-old art of Celestial navigation. Currently, the smallest boat registered is a 33-foot Jeanneau Sunfast, skippered by Bradford Gibbs from Newport, Rhode Island.

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