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Bradish wins Marion Bermuda Race

Aug 28, 2017
Selkie, a Morris Ocean 32 heads for Bermuda.

Selkie, a Morris Ocean 32 heads for Bermuda.

Courtesy G.J. Bradish

Armed with traditional navigation equipment and a working knowledge of the celestial bodies, G.J. Bradish and three crew took top honors in the 2017 running of the Marion Bermuda Race aboard the 32.5-foot Selkie.

Selkie, a 198 Morris Ocean, was the smallest among 49 yachts that departed Marion, Mass., on June 9 for the race to Bermuda. Selkie finished at 0051 June 15 with a provisional elapsed time of 131 hours, 40 minutes and 30 seconds. With ORR handicap scoring, its corrected time was 90 hours, 44 minutes and eight seconds.

Selkie earned a 3 percent bonus for its crew relying on celestial navigation throughout the 645-mile course. Just nine yachts celestially navigated during the 2017 race, which was the 21st overall running in the race’s 40-year history.

Line honors awarded for the first overall finisher went to Jambi, a Hinckley Bermuda 50 skippered by John Levinson. The vessel finished about 23 hours ahead of Selkie but had a corrected time of 127 hours, 32 minutes and 38 seconds. In all, 41 boats finished the race.

Chip Bradish with his sextant.

Courtesy G.J. Bradish

Bradish, who goes by Chip, has competed in three previous Marion Bermuda races although never before as skipper. This race also was the first for Selkie, which Bradish acquired 12 years ago. He grew up racing small boats in Barnegat Bay, N.J., and now holds a 100-ton Coast Guard license.

“For several years I have crewed for different skippers,” Bradish, 52, said in a recent phone interview from his Boston home. “It was time for me to take my boat to this race. It took me a long time to get her ready.”

Max Mulhern, George Dyroff and Peter Sidewater assisted during the Marion Bermuda race. Mulhern passed along the basics of celestial navigation, including the use of a sextant.

“We practiced our celestial navigating all winter, and our charting and plotting skills, and we got on the water this spring and practiced,” Bradish said. “The conditions for the race favored a small boat like ours. They were generally light conditions.”

Selkie’s crew with their banner.

Courtesy G.J. Bradish

Selkie was by itself for much of the voyage. The crew spotted a couple commercial ships each day but otherwise was alone in the ocean, except for the first and last day of the race. Along the way, they spotted dolphins, whales, sharks and flying fish.

Bradish considers Marion Bermuda an appropriate entry into offshore racing. Organizers emphasize preparation among the competitors and conduct thorough inspections before the race begins.

“They make sure you are ready for offshore, and that is what is so great about it,” Bradish said. “They really support ocean racers.”

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