GITANA TAKES LIGHT-AIR WEST MARINE BERMUDA CUP

It was a double win for Lee Carroll’s Gitana, the Dufour 45 from Arnold, MD taking both line honors and first in class in the West Marine Bermuda Cup. The fleet saw unseasonably light winds, from their start in Hampton, VA on June 17 to the finish in St. George’s, Bermuda, some 645 miles and 5-6 days later.

This was the 10th annual running of the event, known as "the fun race to Bermuda" - with optional engine times logged and factored into corrected times. One boat coordinated the twice-daily radio check-in and chat, during which positions were reported, weather observations were exchanged and any problems brainstormed.

The fleet, having gathered at Salt Ponds Marina, Hampton, VA for a weekend of briefings, inspections and social events, set out in a light northeasterly breeze which oscillated into the southeast for a lumpy Gulf Stream entry. On the third day out, the northeasterly piped to 12-17, with the upwind angle causing spray on deck. This was to be the breeziest part of the race, as high pressure over Bermuda resulted in very light easterlies that occasioned the start-up of the iron jennies.

Gitana was first to finish, in four days five hours 11 minutes. All the boats arrived in St. George’s within 26 hours of the fleet leader. Gitana’s corrected time held up for top honors in Class 1. Second was David Craig’s Aurora, a Stevens 47 from Washington Crossing, PA, and third was Russ Zink’s Bristol 48 Spray, from Timonium, MD.

First place in Class 2 went to John Alt’s Morgan 43 Zen from Annapolis. Zen was crewed by two father/daughter duos, John and Megan Alt, and Ross and Ali Dierdorff. Taking second place in Class 2 was the Morgan 44 Contessa, owned and sailed by Roy and Robin Taylor of Yorktown, VA. Third was John Parker’s Island Packet 420 Eventually from Skillman, NJ.

At the gala awards party in St. George’s, bagpipers led the way, followed by a ceremony in which each boat received an award for completing the passage safely. Organizer Steve Black presented the Seipt Trophy, emblematic of the spirit of the event, to Contessa. During the race, Contessa offered assistance to two vessels, and on her arrival in St. George’s assisted Harbor Radio in a search for a missing fishing boat.

Unlike other events, the West Marine Bermuda Cup "isn’t over when it’s over," as many of the boats traveled back together, sharing positions and weather reports daily.

For full information on the upcoming West Marine Caribbean 1500 Cup, Passagemaker Seminars or the 2003 West Marine Bermuda Cup, call Steve Black at 401-848-0302 or visit the website: www.carib 1 500.com.