SAIL’s Andy Howe Earns Nav Award as Part of Winning Marion Bermuda Race Crew

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Congratulations to skipper Gregg Marston and the crew of the 48-year-old Alden Mistral 36 Ti—which included SAIL’s own Andy Howe—for their outstanding performance in last week’s Marion to Bermuda race.

In addition to taking the Founders Division trophy for the overall victory, Ti won the Beverly “Polaris” celestial class trophy, and crewmate Chase Marston and Andy shared in the Navigator’s Trophy for their combined efforts in wielding the boat’s sextant and figuring out the necessary plots over the 645-mile course, which includes a Gulf Stream crossing.

In keeping with the Corinthian spirit of the event, the crew, which also included watch captain Peter Stoops, and crewmembers John O’Meara and Jake Marston, all hail from the same family, which earned the boat the Family Trophy as well.

“This was my ninth Bermuda Race—six from Marion and three from Newport,” Andy says. “Collectively the crew had 23 races under their belts, so it was nice for all of us to finally get a win!

As for the race itself, Andy says that as is so often the case with offshore racing, the fact that the weather gods looked upon Ti favorably this time around played no small part in the crew’s success.

“We had no illusions about what to expect,” he says. “Typically, the fleet finds a couple of wind holes down the course, which either allows the leading big boats to escape or the trailing small boats to catch up, depending on where and when the holes appear. Forecasts for this year were for stiff breezes and substantial seas, which seemed to indicate a big boat race. Strategy for the Gulf Stream was obvious, so there was no real advantage to be gained by taking a GS flyer. But, the forecast wind direction and down-course route timing fit our polars perfectly, so we just felt that if we sailed the boat consistently well all the way down the course we’d have a chance.”

“The conditions were largely as forecast (if the timing was a bit off), with a southwest wind backing to the southeast and building as we headed to the Gulf Stream, then veering back to the south and then southwest, when it strengthened again, bringing us into Bermuda.”

A veteran celestial navigator, Howe admits that relying on a sextant puts an element of guesswork into the equation, but says he tries to keep as close a track of his position as possible by maintaining a diligent DR plot and grabbing as many sun lines as possible.

“I was not able to get very good star sights due to sea conditions, poor horizons and aging eyes, so the sun lines became critical,” Howe said. “Turns out we nailed a lot of the DRs, witnessed some expected strong set from the current in the Gulf Stream, but were able to hit our waypoints close enough to leverage current and wind to maximum benefit.”

“I always sail in the Celestial Class,” Howe says. “Although it typically has a smaller fleet than the Newport-Bermuda race, Marion’s focus on traditional skills, cruising oriented boats and family crews really adds a lot of positive energy and fun that brings many boats and crews back for multiple races. The host clubs also put on great events at either end, making it fun for the race crew and for the shore-side crew who see the fleet off and then meet them in Bermuda to hoist the requisite Dark & Stormies.”

Great stuff Andy, and everybody at SAIL is really proud of you. Now get back to work!

For complete results, visit www.marionbermuda.com.

Photo courtesy of Talbot Wilson

September 2015

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