Salisbury sailing team racing to Bermuda

On Friday, a group of local business owners will leave Annapolis and embark on the race to Bermuda known as A2B.

The crew, composed of Bob Dickey, John Thomas, Richard Bearman, Mitch Wiest and Jenny Joyce, with Mark McIver as backup on the crew and local information provider, will sail on Bold Spirit, a Saga, 43-foot racing and cruiser co-owned by Matt Holloway and Lee Beauchamp.

Sponsored by the Eastport Yacht Club and The Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club in Bermuda, the race has been held biannually since 1979 and usually lasts around six days.

“They sail straight across the Atlantic, 600 miles off the coast. Bermuda is the traditional spot for transatlantic boat trips. It can be scary. That boat can be very small in the Atlantic Ocean. The race is 753 miles,” McIver said.

“The race usually requires tacking into the southern wind and dodging Baltimore bond freighters, for the full length of the Chesapeake Bay.  After reaching the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, the race takes a due east turn into the Atlantic Ocean for the 600-mile leg to Bermuda. The boat and crew will be challenged with the Gulf Stream crossing. Gulf Stream crossings are sometimes challenging but always unpredictable.  The next 500 miles is equally unpredictable. Past races have ranged from total boredom to high seas adventure with winds of sustained 30 mph and wind gusts of 40 or more,” McIver said.

Follow the race at bermudaoceanrace.com.

Described as “an event like none other,” the event “provides a unique combination of inshore and offshore racing through its route down the Chesapeake Bay, across the Gulf Stream, and into Bermuda.”

“It is technically challenging, physically taxing and alternatively boisterous and serene. The race quickly found enthusiastic support from mid-Atlantic yachtsmen and participation grew steadily into what is now the 21st running of the event,” the website states.

More than 600 yachts have participated during the years, with thousands of crew members experiencing “the thrill and beauty of a blue water passage as a result of this intense and challenging event.”

McIver became interested through his involvement in the Eastern Shore Sailing Association.

“They have two fleets and they run races through the summer every week, one in Nanticoke or Tangier near Nanticoke and the other one in Cambridge. This runs every week. It’s a lot of fun. It’s an awfully lot of fun, from very professional sailors who have a lot of offshore experience to novice sailors who just want to go out and have a nice time on a light wind. You have the whole spectrum of people that participate,” McIver said.

“You get under sail and the boat is moving. There’s no noise, just vibration, just the sound of the ocean and the waves. It just swishes. The sound it makes is like a swoosh. It’s so beautiful,” he said.

Although he has never participated in A2B, McIver has sailed offshore from Pensacola, Fla., to Cuba, a comparable length from Annapolis to Bermuda.

“The winner of A2B gets a lot of satisfaction and a trophy,” he said.

“When you sail offshore, you’re either going to love it or you’re absolutely going to hate it. It’s a calling. Offshore is a certain distance away from shore in the ocean, from us to another country. Or Bermuda or the Bahamas or Cuba or the Virgin Islands,” he said.

Boats are equipped with berths, a galley for cooking, dining area, bathrooms, refrigeration and running water.

“It’s not Spartan but it’s not like being at home,” McIver said.

“There is a lot of camaraderie with the crew. It’s important that the crew gets along well because you’re tripping over each other for five or six days.”

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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